Naturewatch founder John Ruane, 61

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2013:


John Ruane, 61, died of lung cancer on December 3, 2013 in
Newent, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Formerly employed in
international marketing, Ruane founded Naturewatch, based in
Cheltenham, England, in 1992, and incorporated the parallel
Naturewatch Foundation a year later. Initially campaigning mostly
against laboratory use of animals, Naturewatch has since 1992 published
13 editions of a Compassionate Shopping Guide spotlighting companies
that no longer do animal testing and those that continue to use animals
in developing new products. “John Henry Draize,” inventor of the
Draize skin irritancy test most often done on rabbits, “died in 1992
and I am certain he has been Lucifer’s guest ever since,” Ruane
famously remarked.

Naturewatch has also coordinated annual World Day for Animals
celebrations, campaigned against pack hunting, and has been active on
a variety of other animal welfare fronts, but circa 1998 discovered a
unique mission in support of newly formed animal charities in eastern
Europe––especially SOS Animals Ukraine, begun in 1994 by former
television journalist Tamara Tarnawska. Establishing a dog and cat
sterilization program in 1996 and a no-kill shelter on the site of the
former municipal dog-skinning factory (budka) at the edge of Kiev in
1997, Tarnawska has for more than 15 years run into frequent conflict
with the private city animal control contractor, Animals In The City,
initially staffed by former budka personnel.
Ruane time and again ensured that violent attacks on SOS Animals
Ukraine staff and supporters, and attempts to frame them for alleged
illegal use of veterinary drugs, were exposed far and wide.
Naturewatch in 2010-2011 exposed mass killings of stray animals in Kiev,
Kharkov, Donetsk, and Lvov, the four Ukrainian cities selected to
cohost the Euro 2012 football championships.
Ruane in November 2011 brokered an agreement to stop the killing
that presaged street dog sterilization campaigns in all four cities by
the Austrian-based international animal charity Vier Pfoten. Vier
Pfoten sterilized about 4,000 dogs, and continued the effort into 2013,
but withdrew from Kiev in mid-year after local authorities took no
action in response to death threats which may have been sent either by
hunters who shoot dogs for sport, who have emerged throughout the
former Soviet Union, or by persons associated with Animals In The City.

Ruane in 2002 was named Maecenas Honoris Causa by the Lithuanian
Veterinary Academy, and in 2005 received the Order of St Michael Medal
from the government of Ukraine.
Caroline Fiona Barker, involved with Naturewatch from the
beginning, succeeds Ruane as director.

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