Editorial: Helping more animals with fewer resources

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:

A year into the global financial meltdown, the humane
community as a whole seems to be holding up relatively well, so
far–but precariously.
Puppy mills, by contrast, are collapsing at an
unprecedented pace. 2008 brought more than twice as many dogs and
cats into animal shelters as result of breeder failures than 2007,
and the 2009 volume from breeder failures is on pace to eclipse the
2008 record.

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Editorial feature: How hard times affect animal rescue

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2008:


The October 2008 ANIMAL PEOPLE editorial, “The humane community can
handle hard times,” focused on the institutional side of coping with
the global economic crisis. How animals themselves are affected also
warrants discussion.
“Foreclosure pets” and “abandoned horses” have been the
topics of at least one major daily newspaper feature apiece per week,
by actual count, since late 2007.
There is not much of a “foreclosure pets” crisis in affluent
suburbs where the few foreclosures tend to be on townhouses in
developments that did not allow pets to begin with. Across town
though, handling animals surrendered by distraught people who have
abruptly become homeless is an increasingly urgent issue. Typically,
a young family of insecure income reached for the house-yard-dog
dream by taking out a sub-prime mortgage. Then someone lost a job,
often just because the economy skidded.

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Editorial feature: The humane community can handle hard times

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2008:
(Actual publication date 11-5-08.)


Writing only for SPCA Los Angeles, SPCA/L.A. president Madeline Bernstein might have spoken for the whole humane community worldwide in an early October 2008 appeal expressing deep concern with the state of our economy, food costs, gas prices, Wall Street woes and its negative trickledown effect.
SPCA/L.A. is struggling to feed and tend to the ever-increasing number of homeless animals in our care, Bernstein said, many a direct result of foreclosures and financial hardship. Worse, fewer adoptions are occurring for the same reasons.  This puts us in the untenable position of having to bear higher costs while donations, corporate funding and even the bestowal of in-kind gifts is shrinking. Natural disasters and an expensive presidential election have also put a claim on limited resources.  The bottom line is that there is less discretionary and disposable income for charities less funds to give and more difficult choices to make.
SPCA/L.A., with an annual budget of $6 million and estimated assets of $16 million, according to IRS Form 990, is among the most affluent 1% of all humane societies.

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Editorial feature: Animal welfare & conservation in conflict

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2008:


While in Indonesia for the August 2008
Asia for Animals conference, the fifth in a
series co-sponsored by ANIMAL PEOPLE since 2001,
ANIMAL PEOPLE president Kim Bartlett joined
several other conference attendees in a visit to
the International Animal Rescue facilities in
West Java, near Bogor, two hours by car south
of Jakarta.
The visit provided an unexpectedly stark
illustration of some of the sharpest edges and
conflicts in the three-cornered relationship
among animal welfare, wildlife species
conservation, and habitat protection.

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Editorial: Updated expectations of animal charities

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2008:
If for just 15¢ you could ensure that
every donation you make to animal charity goes to
a charity that does what it claims to do, and
does it well, would you spend the 15¢?
The ordering price of the newly published
10th annual edition of the ANIMAL PEOPLE Watchdog
Report on Animal Charities is $25.00–about the
same as the average donation to any type of
charity these days. Divide the Watchdog Report
price by the 165 succinct reviews of prominent
animal charities that it contains, and the
average price per review is 15¢, barely a third
of the cost of mailing a donation.
The ANIMAL PEOPLE Watchdog Report on
Animal Charities helps you to target your
donations and bequests to accomplish more for
animals. The ANIMAL PEOPLE Watchdog Report
gives you an informed independent investigative
perspective on the 117 U.S. animal charities that
you are most likely to hear from by direct mail
or through e-mailings, or hear about in the
news, and on 48 foreign animal charities whose
work is of particular note. People who make large
donations, frequent donations, or are planning
their estates will find the ANIMAL PEOPLE
Watchdog Report especially helpful.
There are free online resources to which
the Watchdog Report may be compared– but only

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Editorial feature– Culturing meat

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2008:

Now among the most talked-about
scientific conferences of 2008, the three-day In
Vitro Meat Symposium was little noticed by anyone
but the handful of participants when convened on
April 9 in the Oslo suburb of Aas.
Home of the Norwegian University of Life
Sciences, best known for associations with the
Nobel Prize, Aas almost every week hosts obscure
and esoteric scientific conferences. Few rate
even a press release. The timing of the In Vitro
Meat Symposium, however, could not have been
better. In Aas, the assembled scientists and a
few investors compared notes on products most
often described as “test tube,” “synthetic,” or
“cultured” meat. Around the world, mass media
reported near-simultaneous civil unrest in
multiple nations resulting from a global grain

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How tethering limits affect the numbers of loose dogs, dog bites, shelter dog intakes, and dogs killed at shelters

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2008:
How tethering limits affect the numbers of loose dogs, dog bites,
shelter dog intakes, and dogs killed at shelters

by Ambuja Rosen
Ashland, Oregon mayor John Morrison told me several months
ago that one reason he couldn’t vote to limit how long dogs may be
tethered was that he was concerned that more dogs might run loose.
This is a legitimate worry. An estimated 26,000 U.S. motor
vehice occupants per year receive hospital treatment and about 200
people die as a result of traffic accidents caused by animals.
Deer account for most of these accidents, but dogs are responsible
for some. For example, in October 2007 two big dogs darted in
front of a car driven by a 36-year-old man in Hemet, California.
The car hit them, rolled over, and landed on the driver’s side.
The man died at the scene about 30 minutes later.

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Editorial feature: National image & the quality of compassion

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2008:


Having never won a fight in his life, despite picking many
in his youth, the longtime ANIMAL PEOPLE office cat Alfred the Great
died in 2006 after convincing generations of younger cats that his
scars from many early thrashings were evidence that he was not a cat
to trifle with. Alfred occupied a royal pillow for years after
learning a lesson about image and character from an old female cat
named Gidget, nicknamed “Devil of the Boss Cats.”
A rather small tabby, Gidget one evening turned on a coyote
believed to have eaten nine other cats, and sent the coyote racing
up a mountainside for dear life with her practiced shrieks and Aikido
rolls. The coyote never came back.
Alfred followed Gidget, practicing her growl and swagger.
But Alfred also studied the social nuances exhibited by the
Buddha-like Voltaire, his predecessor as as the ANIMAL PEOPLE top
cat, who tended to let younger tomcats beat each other up without
involving himself in pointless confrontation. Cultivating political
wisdom, Alfred reigned into frail old age, then peacefully
abdicated when he knew he could no longer present a convincing bluff.
Image and character, as almost every animal instinctively
knows, are often not the same thing–but image reflects character
often enough that rivals and predators tend to avoid risking
mistakes. The essence of successful display, whether to attract a
mate or to repel a threat, is convincing others that the brightness
of feathers, size of mane, length of horns, or jauntiness of a
strut is authentically indicative of whatever is underneath.
Image tends to be created by the combination of whatever is
deliberately offered to view with what cannot be hidden. Thus much
of image is a matter of presenting a potential defect or
vulnerability as an attribute and asset. Alfred could not hide his
scars, but he could tell hugely exaggerated war stories about them
with his cocky demeanor. Gidget could not hide being small, but her
growl hinted at the ferocity of a puma. Voltaire moved in a regal
manner ensuring that he was seen as the king of cats, not just a fat

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Editorial: The late Tom Lantos: a Wilburforce for our time

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2008:


Outspokenly critical of the policies of U.S. President George
W. Bush, the late House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Tom Lantos
was nonetheless praised by Bush after his February 11, 2008 death
from esophageal cancer as “a man of character and a champion of human
rights. As the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress,” Bush
added, “Tom was a living reminder that we must never turn a blind
eye to the suffering of the innocent at the hands of evil men.”
Bush, like most other Washington D.C. eulogists and
obituarists for national news media, omitted that the “suffering of
the innocent” of deep concern to Lantos included the suffering of
animals, and that Lantos championed animal rights as well as human
rights for most of the 27 years he served in the House of

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