Letters

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  May/June 2013:

About Experiencing Animal Minds

Debra J. White’s review of Experiencing Animal Minds,  in the March 2013 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE,  came to my attention at just about the same time as I received my copy of the book.  I was shocked to see the sentence in the review which states,  “Mount Royal University psychology professor Alain Morin in a chapter entitled ‘What Are Animals Conscious Of?’ asserts that ‘Wild animals have never been observed worrying and do not seem to experience sleeping difficulties as a result.”  In the actual essay Professor Morin begins this sentence,  on page 249 of the book,  with the caveat, “To the best of my knowledge wild animals …”• I was astounded to read this claim.  In the book review it is correctly noted,  “This contradicts at least 50 years worth of ethological observations,  including some very famous findings by primatologists Jane Goodall,  studying wild chimpanzees,  and Robert Sapolsky,  studying wild baboons.  Morin acknowledges, however,  that laboratory animals show evidence of anxiety ‘when asked to perform extremely difficult discriminatory tasks.’” • There is plenty of other research that shows clearly that nonhuman animals worry about various events that are happening in their lives and that they lose sleep when they are uneasy,  anxious,  distressed,  troubled,  or on edge.  One need not be familiar with scientific literature that shows animals worry,  however, to observe this.  People who live with dogs, cats, and other animals who suffer from separation anxiety or a fear of loud noises including thunder (and lightning), for example,  should be able to see the evidence.       I’ve shared my home with a number of dogs who paced around nervously or hid under the bed or wrapped themselves in the sheets,  and lost sleep when there were severe thunderstorms in the area. Often,  after a night of raucous weather,  the dogs would walk around obviously groggy from a lack of sleep. ––Marc Bekoff Professor Emeritus of Ecology  & Evolutionary Biology University of Colorado Boulder,  Colorado <marcbekoff.com/>

Editor’s note: Marc Bekoff elaborated much more extensively on the thoughts above,  providing many further examples from scientific research,  at <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201304/do-animals-worry-and-lose-sleep-when-theyre-troubled>.

“Humane community needs to develop perspective” I keep trying to make the point that getting control of the flow of animals into shelters is necessary before significant progress is possible toward achieving “no-kill” communities.  I believe “no-kill” at present to be an irresponsible emotional response which does more to make people feel good than to help animals. Everyone now is pushing pets.  I’ve seen too many of the “good homes” found for many of them to have any illusions about them.  I’m horrified by adoptathons and shelter ads in local media.  So much money and emphasis is tied up in promoting adoptions in this area that rural counties have little funding left for addressing animal abuse and neglect,  especially of livestock. The humane community needs to develop some perspective.  Iowa City and Johnson County are building a multi-million dollar new facility which is basically a glorified pet store,  to promote adoptions.  Meanwhile ads for $800-$1,000 “designer” puppies are published daily. I believe now,  more than ever,  that “pet ownership” is not in the best interests of the animals or the environment.  I also cannot in good conscience agree to these multi-million-dollar facilities and programs to promote adoptions,  when people in the same communities have inadequate shelter space and welfare support.  When money is tightening we need to fund human services.  That is not to say we should abandon animal shelters and pounds.  On the contrary,  we are a responsibility to both animals and public––but monetary limitations require that we prioritize.  With restricted funds to care for animals,  we have to emphasize spay/neuter programs,  stop pushing pet acquisition,  and charge fees that make those profiting from pet breeding and sales pay. I see all of the money going toward shelters and promoting pet adoption as indirectly contributing to the neglect and suffering of other species,  livestock, research animals,  et al.  When humane dollars are disproportionately going to promote adoptions,  there is no money left for humane investigations,  for example. Incidentally,  Kim Bartlett’s essay in your January/February 2013 edition on the recent Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was marvelous.  To me, animal rights is a moral and ethical issue:  what is our ethical duty to sentient life forms? I have long felt that the most important way to help animals in research would be to require every student in the sciences to complete a core course in ethics toward animals.  Responsibility for our treatment of animals must come from an ethical conviction,  not superficial feelings,  which respond mainly to the animals we can easily identify with,  such as pets and harp seal pups,  but not lab rats. ––Antonia Russo Solon,  Iowa

Gadhimai sacrifices

The Gadhimai sacrifices held every five years in honor of a local Hindu goddess at Bariyarpur,  Nepal,   need worldwide exposure and support to have any chance of being stopped. About a quarter of a million animals were killed at Bariyapur in 2009.  The Nepali government is inept and corrupt and we cannot rely on it for help. Before the last festival in 2009 the government said that it could not prevent the sacrifices on the grounds that it “would offend the sensibilities of worshippers”. About 70% of the people attending the festivals are from India (from Indian states where the sacrifices have already been banned). They bring most of the buffaloes to be sacrificed.  We need to exert pressure on the Indian authorities to help the campaign. ––Geoff Knight Truro,  Cornwall United Kingdom <kbros@tinyonline.co.uk>

20 million pro-vegan leaflets distributed

We are thrilled to announce that Vegan Outreach has now distributed twenty million advocacy booklets.  This reflects the dedication of tens of thousands of donors,  and the incredible effort of thousands of leafleters.  From our initial 13,182 hand-folded and hand-stapled booklets in 1994,  to the 2,786,582 copies of Compassionate Choices,  Even If You Like Meat,  and Why Vegan? that we distributed in 2012,  Vegan Outreach booklets have been used by activists around the world to expose the hidden brutality inflicted on farmed animals,  while making an honest and thorough case for sustainable ethical eating.  Distributing 902,467 booklets during the first three months of 2013,  we are on pace to reach more than 3,000,000 people in 2013. ––Matt Ball Executive Director Vegan Outreach POB 30865 Tucson, AZ 85751 <matt@veganoutreach.com> <www.veganoutreach.org>

Rescuing calves while the dairy industry continues to expand overcrowds Indian shelters

Concerning “Record seizures of dogs from meat traffic in China and Thailand stretch rescue capacity,”  in the April 2013 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE,  we are having a similar problem with cattle––and they need even more space and food.  In the last three months,  thanks to the co-operation of the police,  record numbers of cattle  trucks hauling animals to slaughter in Kerala have been stopped and taken away––and sent to the Blue Cross of India.  We are running out of space and money for food. ––Dr. Nanditha Krishna Director The C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation Chennai,  India <nankrishna@vsnl.com>

Editor’s note: Confirmed Pratiksha Ramkumar in an April 23,  2013 Times of India News Network report,   “A severe shortage of goshalas or cattle shelters has put police and animal rights activists in a Catch-22 situation.  They stop trucks transporting cattle illegally,  but find no place to shelter the animals until the court case to settle their custody is closed.”  For example,  Ramkumar wrote,  “People for Cattle in India and police seized eight trucks illegally transporting 229 cattle for slaughter from Andhra Pradesh last Sunday.  It took the police close to 12 hours to find a place to lodge the animals. “The city has 20 goshalas and the Blue Cross of India shelter to house cattle,”  Ramkumar continued.  “Fifteen of the goshalas are run by Jain organizations. They only take in cows.  Sunday’s seizure comprised mostly buffaloes and bulls.  Even non-Jain goshalas refused to take the cattle because they were short of space.” Shelters accepting seized cattle often experience goonda retaliation. “I have 200 cattle and have no space,”  People for Animals/Chennai chapter president Sheerani Pereira of Red Hills told Ramkumar.  “I do not want to face the aggression of butchers and cattle traders any more,”  Pereira said,  recounting an incident two days earler “when a group of butchers and local goons came with a release order issued by a magistrate court.  They tried scaling my wall and breaking my gate.  It was only my 200 dogs and the police,  who arrived later, who stopped them.” Noted Ramkumar,  “Four of her employees have not turned up for work since. Goshala managers say magistrate courts issue release orders despite two high court judgments,  issued in February and March,  which clearly state that a seized animal cannot be returned to the accused.” To the north,  the Visakha SPCA,  of Visakhapatnam,  received even more cattle this spring.  The Simchalam temple in Visakhapatnam has reportedly received “donations” of as many as 15,000 unwanted male calves per year,  who have been quietly sold to butchers and exporters.  The temple acknowledges receiving about 500 calves per year. The Visakha SPCA,  whose first shelter was razed by a mob of butchers in April 2000,  has for more than 15 years pressured the temple to stop accepting calf donations.  The present temple management “agrees that the devotees bring in sick,  weak,  and deformed calves,  and that this is hypocricy rather than any exercise of religion.  They just want to get rid of these calves,”  e-mailed Visakha SPCA founder Pradeep Kumar Nath. Simchalam temple trustee Anand Gajapathiraju and temple chief executive Ramachandra Mohan on April 28,  2013 told Sulogna Metra of the Times of India News Network that calves would no longer be auctioned.  “We have decided to keep all the animals with us and will house them on around 100 acres of spare land where we will build sheds.  In the long run,  we plan to put up a biogas plant to generate electricity to light up the temple,  or use the manure to make natural compost,”  Gajapathiraju said. Conflict between the cattle industry and animal defenders is equally intense in Rajasthan,  on the far side of India.  Gitaben Rambhiya of Ahmedabad began interdicting illegal cattle slaughter in 1984.  Credited with rescuing 165,000 cattle in nine years,  she  survived several assassination attempts before she was finally killed,  at age 36,  on August 27,  1993.  The Gitaben Rambhiyatrus Smrutri Trust,  rescuing cattle,  birds,  and dogs,  is named in her honor,  as is a central square in Ahmedabad.  But Gitaben Rambhiya is only the best remembered of many cattle rescuers who have been killed in recent decades. Historically most surplus male calves in India were castrated and used to pull carts and plows,  but increasing use of motor vehicles has eroded demand for draft animals,  while the growing human population,  combined with rapidly rising affluence,  has increased demand for dairy products.  India currently produces about the same volume of milk as the U.S.,  but because Indian cows produce less milk,  about three times as many calves are born per year in India to generate a similar milk yield.  Surplus calves are raised for beef in India,  as in the U.S.,  but covertly and mostly for export of the meat,  since observant Hindus do not eat beef,  and since cattle slaughter is illegal in most of India.

Update from “open shelter” projects

We are now trying to combine agriculture with our open shelter concept––we have about 30 hectares of sunflowers and wheat planted,  also some walnut and medlar trees [a common European fruit species,  though little known in the U.S.],  in addition to about 40 hectares of forest and open land for the dogs. We are continuing to operate our mobile and fixed clinic neutering clinics throughout the Romanian county of Bihor,  but I have handed over the city shelter in Oradea to the municipality.  After a disastrous beginning,  the management has improved considerably,  and the shelter is rehoming 40-50 dogs per month.  The last time I was there,  all the 250 or so dogs seemed healthy and well fed.  Unfortunately the municipality is not offering all dog keepers free neutering,  as we did when we ran the shelter.  Nevertheless I think I partly succeeded in off-loading the financial burden onto the municipality and in getting them to carry on our project.  They still collect loose dogs from the streets and neuter them,  but they are not returning them as they should be doing with many of them. Perhaps you should also report at some point on Turkey, which is another good news story.  Nowadays you hardly ever see the bodies of dead dogs on the roads in western Turkey,  whereas 20 years ago and even 10 years ago,  they were everywhere.  So although the municipalities have not implemented neuter/return as efficiently or humanely as we would have wished,  it has worked.  People accept the sight of dogs on the streets with clipped ears and know that these dogs are not a threat. There is much more of a sense of social responsibility in Turkey than there used to be––I suppose economic prosperity helps.  Also a lot of Turkish celebrities have joined the animal welfare cause.  We still run our partly open shelter there and do lots of school education projects.  Our veterinarian spends a lot of time training municipal vets in far flung outposts of Anatolia,  which of course are a long way behind Istanbul in their development. ––Robert Smith Foundation for the Protection of Community Dogs Oradea,  Romania <robert.smith@thetangogroup.com>

Report from Kyrgyz

I am a student at an economic institution in Bishkek,  Kyrgyz Republic.  All my life I have loved animals,  and if I can help them,  I help. Three days ago,  I walked my dog and saw a homeless dog.  Suddenly someone shot the homeless dog from up in a five-story building. I  could not help the dog.  It was horrible.  I decided it was time to act. In my country most people do not like the animals. When people move, go somewhere or are just bored,  they throw their animals out like garbage. Furniture is treated better. Article 30 of the Civil Code of the Kyrgyz Republic says animals are property.  Animals are beaten,  stoned,  and killed,  and no one is doing much about it. The vice-mayor of Bishkek promises to build a shelter every year,  but nothing happens.  Meanwhile,  at least 4,800 homeless animals were killed in Bishkek during the last seven months of 2012. I want to change the attitude toward homeless animals in the Civil Code,  and to raise the level of consciousness so that animal are recognized as living creatures.  Unfortunately,  I do not know how I can do it.  I have only myself,  my ideas,  and  belief that everything can be changed. ––Evgenii a Ekimova Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic <eugenia.ekimova@gmail.com>

Gamefowl breeders

Thank you so much for “Triple murder follows dogfighting raids that net 62 suspects and 120 pit bulls” in the April 2013 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE––a great, in-depth article that quotes Humane Society of the U.S. director of animal cruelty policy John Goodwin.   I was wondering if you could please make a clarification to one of the facts:  where it says 1,700 gamecock breeders are left,  near the end,  it is actually 1,700 United Gamefowl Breeders Association members remaining. ––Rebecca Basu Public Relations Specialist The Humane Society of the United States 2100 L Street NW,  Washington,  DC 20037 Phone:  301-258-3152 <rbasu@humanesociety.org> <www.humanesociety.org>

Update about tribal bison poachers

In my letter “Yellowstone bison mourn their murdered kin,”   published in the April 2013 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE,  I mentioned a poaching incident by two non-Nez Perce.  One of the guys happened to be the vice chair of the Spokane Tribal Business Council.  He was cited. Spokane Spokesman Review reporters Jonathan Brunt and Tom Sowa on April 14,  2013 reported that “Rodney W. Abrahamson,  41,  was cited for poaching and obstructing while hunting with members of the Nez Perce Tribe near Gardiner,  Montana.  He was fined nearly $3,500.  Abrahamson’s cousin also was cited on a poaching charge during the hunt.  Nez Perce members have hunting rights that are protected by an 1855 treaty. But Abrahamson is not a member of the Nez Perce Tribe, and the Spokane Tribe does not have bison hunting rights in Montana,  said Sam Sheppard,  who oversees enforcement of bison hunting as the warden captain in southwest Montana for the state’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department.” This does not bring the buffalo back,  but I’m glad to see that there is some action. ––Stephany Seay Buffalo Field Campaign P.O. Box 957 West Yellowstone,  MT 59758 Phone:  406-646-0070 <bfc-media@wildrockies.org> <www.buffalofieldcampaign.org>

Praise for “Inflated cat stats panic birders”

I am on a task force in Savannah,  Georgia,  trying to develop balanced ordinances regarding feral cats.  We have a very active community of cat advocates who practice neuter/return,  as well as many very active birders.   Of course the birders are relying heavily on the January 2103 Nature Communications article by Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute ornithologists Scott Loss and Peter Marra and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Tom Will. Your March 2013 article “Inflated cat stats panic birders” is the best evaluation of the Nature Communications  article I have seen. ––Karen Hickman Savannah,  Georgia

I was dying to find your March 2013 “Inflated cat stats panic birders” article so I could email circulate it, and post it on Facebook,  and send it to the Orlando Sentinel,   which published Ted Williams’ ideas about how to poison cats,  as described in “Audubon writer allegedly recommended poisoning cats,”  in the April 2013 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE. In our community we have a very successful neuter/return program,  including adopting out socialized cats.  My husband and I are feeding about 30 cats every night,  who are not interested in killing birds,  and are not going to multiply. Inflammatory information about cats comes around periodically,  later debunked but meanwhile causing uninformed people to promote illegal acts,  such as poisoning cats. Thank you for all you do in your paper,  to inspire your readers to speak up against torture and murder of animals. ––Sasha Rethati “Sound off with Sasha” WGCU 90.1 FM Marco Island,  Florida

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