ANIMAL•PEOPLE is the leading independent newspaper providing original investigative coverage of animal protection worldwide. Founded in 1992, ANIMAL PEOPLE has no alignment or affiliation with any other entity.

 

This site built and maintained•by: GREANVILLE ASSOCIATES•Rev. 5.31.10  Copyright•ANIMAL PEOPLE,INC. 1992-2010

 


TO LOCATE ANY SUBJECT, DO AN "IN-TEXT SEARCH".

WINDOWS MACHINES:

Press Control + F

MACINTOSH:

Press Command + F

JAN-FEB ISSUE IN PDF AND FlashPaper® —> GO THERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

corgiLogo

You're looking at the April 2010 issue in HTML FORMAT

THE GOOGLE SUPER ENGINE

Google


WWW www.animalpeoplenews.org

ESSENTIAL DESTINATIONS

NOTE: THIS IS THE REGULAR MARCH 2010 HTML EDITION OF ANIMAL PEOPLE. IT IS PRESENTED IN A "STRIPPED" FORMAT. FOR THE COMPLETE PRINT EDITION (WITH PHOTOGRAPHS), PLEASE SEE OUR PDF AND FLASHPAPER EDITIONS—

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

EDITORIAL FEATURE: 

How to introduce neuter/return & make it work

Even before publication of our first edition, in September 1992, ANIMAL PEOPLE advocated and demonstrated the use of neuter/return in place of catch-and-kill animal control. Our very first project proved the efficacy of neuter/return plus vaccination to keep raccoon rabies from spreading among feral cats at eight sites in Connecticut.


Witnessing, documenting, and reporting about the success of neuter/return in controlling dog and cat populations worldwide often provides a sense of accomplishment. Yet a frequent source of frustration comes from seeing the failure of poorly planned, ineptly executed, and negligently maintained neuter/return projects.
Nearly 30 years after neuter/return was first successfully demonstrated in South Africa, Kenya, and Britain, a decade before formal introduction to the U.S., there no longer seems to be much doubt among animal advocates and the international public health sector that neuter/return, properly conducted, is at once the most humane method of reducing the numbers of feral cats and street dogs, and the most effective way to control disease vectors.


The humane argument against killing healthy animals for population control scarcely needs introduction or summary. But the public health argument for neuter/return tends to be at least as persuasive when governments review their animal control policies. From the public health perspective, neuter/return plus vaccination replaces high mortality and birth rates among often diseased feral cats and street dogs with stable populations of healthy animals. Neuter/return also gradually reduces feral cat and street dog numbers without sacrificing their role in controlling rodents, who are of vastly greater significance as disease vectors. In effect, neuter/return buys time in which to improve refuse disposal and other aspects of sanitation, or at least to allow nature a chance to fill the scavenging void with other creatures.


Effectively managed, neuter/return sells itself well enough to have become national policy in India, Costa Rica, and Turkey, and to have developed strong interest among policy makers in many other nations. There is, nonetheless, continuing opposition from people who feel that returning feral cats and street dogs to their habitat under any circumstance is inhumane, unclean, perpetuating societal backwardness, and/or presenting a threat to wildlife, especially birds, who would be threatened much more if feral cats remained unsterilized.
Opponents of neuter/return can be counted upon to continue to amplify word of any failures of neuter/return programs, as they have since neuter/return begain. Failures will continue to be represented as failures of the neuter/return concept, not as the inevitable result of poor planning, execution, and maintenance. Public policies which have become favorable to neuter/return may sometimes be amended in adverse ways, as occurred in Los Angeles as result of a December 2009 court decision that any neuter/return feral cat control project done with public support must be preceded by an environmental impact statement.


ANIMAL PEOPLE is asked no question more often than variants on "How can we overcome opposition to neuter/return in our community?" Sometimes the opposition is to introducing a neuter/return program of any sort, based on negative views of feral cats or street dogs. Often, though, the opposition is based on misunderstanding of how neuter/return uses ecological principles to achieve a lasting transition in which species make use of food sources and habitat. Sometimes opposition to neuter/return is also based on perceptions that neuter/return has failed elsewhere, and will not succeed in addressing the specific concerns of the community--or has already failed in the community. In fairness to neuter/return critics, failures are common; but these are almost entirely from predictable and remediable causes.


Overcoming opposition to neuter/return really requires only demonstrating success. Neuter/return should significantly and visibly reduce the problematic presence and activities of the species it targets, including minimizing harmful effects on wildlife. A neuter/return program that does not accomplish these goals needs to be redesigned so that it does.


Demonstrating success begins with carrying out demonstration projects, on a limited scale. Working on a limited scale, especially at first, gives a neuter/return team the chance to recognize, address, and avoid repeating mistakes. Starting small enables a neuter/return team to develop the capacity needed to work successfully on a larger scale later, including the ability to raise funds enough to sustain each project, capture enough cats or dogs for surgeons to work efficiently, and safely perform enough surgeries to reach a 70%-plus rate of sterilization of cats or dogs (or both) within the target area and within a single breeding cycle.


70% is the minimum sterilization rate necessary to stabilize a feral cat or street dog population. Achieving a reduction of the population requires achieving a higher sterilization rate. Until the project achieves at least 70% sterilization, the target population will retain the capacity to breed back up to the carrying capacity of the habitat within one breeding cycle.


The "get 70% or flunk" rule is by now known to most people advocating neuter/return. Yet the importance of getting at least to 70% in one location before moving on has not yet been fully accepted by many neuter/return practitioners, who still scatter their efforts across whole cities, instead of focusing on specific neighborhoods with boundaries such as rivers, busy highways, and other geographic features that inhibit animals from migrating in to occupy habitat left open by a declining birth rate.

 

No shortcuts

Before any organization or ambitious individual begins a neuter/return project, it is critical that the neuter/return process be thoroughly understood. There are no shortcuts to success. Yet correspondents often ask ANIMAL PEOPLE to recommend or at least endorse, as one recent neuter/return advocate wrote, "compromises between doing it 100% perfectly versus the real world." This is like seeking a compromise between flying and crashing. Neuter/return succeeds, when done properly, by altering the balance of species who occupy the carrying capacity of the habitat. There are many ways to do the necessary work on an extremely limited budget, but there is no substitute for doing the work. The fewer the resources of the neuter/return practitioners, the more essential it is to plan every step, anticipate every contingency, and minimize making wasteful mistakes.


Neuter/return rarely succeeds if there is compromise on doing the necessary preliminary research; thoroughly training program participants in best practices, from animal capture to return of sterilized animals to their habitats; and insisting that the best surgical techniques be used, under absolutely aseptic conditions.
For example, it is self-defeating to hire a surgeon to spay cats or dogs who makes unnecessarily large incisions, and relies on antibiotics instead of asepsis to prevent post-surgical infections. The animals will avoidably suffer; the efficacy of the program will suffer because of the need to hold animals longer to ensure that they do not become infected, or to treat infections; and the credibility of the program will suffer if sutures fail after animals are released, as occurs most often when multiple sutures are used to close large incisions.


Expecting inadequately trained and practiced surgeons to sterilize more animals than they can handle is perhaps the second most common reason for street dog sterilization program failures in the developing world.
The first most common reason for neuter/return failures involving either dogs or cats, in any part of the world, is starting to operate before doing the necessary preliminary surveys. The essentials are accurately assessing both the target animal population and their environment. This begins with mapping the habitat.


Sometimes this is easy. Highly successful neuter/return programs have been done within the visibly limited confines of a gated residential development, a fenced military base or industrial park, a greenbelt surrounded by freeways and busy streets, or even just the courtyards, balconies, and rooftops of indvidual apartment houses. Yet one should not merely assume that even such seemingly obviously delineated habitats are self-contained. A busy street, for example, may be much less a barrier to a nocturnal population of dogs or cats, who cross in the wee hours of the morning, than humans might guess.


Designing a neuter/return program to serve a neighborhood without obvious physical boundaries will usually be more difficult. Such neighborhoods usually are not the best places to demonstrate neuter/return. Yet careful observation may discern that dogs and cats do not usually pass through blocks without food sources, such as accessible garbage, or where aggressive pet dogs chase visitors. Urine markings and/or scent mounds will reveal favored routes, while the absence of markings and mounds within a distance of about a block may mean that something within this space inhibits animal passage.


Regardless of what the boundaries to a particular feral cat or street dog habitat are, they must be identified, and a successful neuter/return program must work from boundary to boundary to avoid merely opening habitat to other cats or dogs.


There is no substitute for counting the target species within the target area, not only before beginning a neuter/return project, but also repeatedly during the project, to make sure the initial population estimates were accurate, and afterward, to quantify success and identify immigrant animals, who also must be sterilized, lest they repopulate the target area.


Doing an accurate dog or cat population count need not cost any more than the price of a clipboard and pen, and the time to walk repeated line transects of the neighborhood, night and day. ANIMAL PEOPLE will be pleased to e-mail instructions to anyone in need of them. Because this work is simple and inexpensive, it is an excellent starting point for would-be neuter/return practitioners who have yet to raise a project budget; and the data thus obtained can become the basis for successful fundraising.

 

Sterilize pets first

If targeting feral cats, one must develop estimates of the feral cat population in comparison to the roaming pet cat population. To stabilize or reduce the numbers of cats at large, neuter/return practitioners often find that they must sterilize both feral cats and roaming pets. Even sterilizing (or exterminating) 100% of a feral cat population will achieve nothing to reduce the total number of cats, if--as is now the case in parts of the U.S.--the roaming pets are four times more numerous and have a sterilization rate of only 50%, or lower.


In that case, the roaming pet cats have more than enough reproductive capacity to quickly replace themselves and the entire feral cat population; and because the roaming pet cats may be making the greatest contribution to cat population growth, the program can accomplish more, faster, by focusing on sterilizing the roaming pet cats and educating their people, than by starting out trapping ferals. Trapping ferals should be the second phase of the program, begun after the sterilization rate among the roaming pet cats is raised to 70%-plus.


If targeting street dogs, one must likewise develop an accurate understanding of the balance of population among free-roaming pets; "community" dogs, who are more-or-less public pets; and authentic feral dogs, who may be the hardest to catch, while making the least contribution to dog population growth, because their puppies usually have the lowest rate of survival. Again, a sterilization program will usually need to serve all of these populations. Again, it is sensible to sterilize as many of the free-roaming pets as possible first, enlisting the cooperation of their people; then progress to the "community dogs," who are relatively easily handled; and leave the feral dogs for last.


Along with surveying the animal populations, a neuter/return practitioner should survey the diseases and parasites that may be common among them, and develop a strategy for eradicating disease and parasites as part of the neuter/return program. This will typically include vaccination against rabies and distemper, and sometimes other ailments; deworming; mange treatment; and in some habitats, application of fungicides. A neuter/return practitioner cannot guarantee the quality of life of every feral cat or street dog handled, but relatively small investments in disease treatment can substantially improve the quality of life of most.


Further, one can greatly improve public acceptance of animals by eliminating visible conditions such as mange and the emaciation caused by intestinal worms.


Ideally, one should obtain recent wildlife population counts before beginning a neuter/return program. In the U.S., Christmas bird survey data for many locations is available from the National Audubon Society (which opposes neuter/return). Breeding Bird Survey counts may be obtained from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. State and local agencies may have information about wild mammal populations.


The best defense against an allegation that neuter/return may harm birds is to show that preventing cats from bearing litters reduces predation on birds--and on rodents, who are also eaten by many birds. If a feral cat neuter/return project may open habitat to hawks, owls, and eagles, one may need to be able to show that hawks, owls, and eagles attracted by an increased abundance of mice are also responsible for increased predation on songbirds.


A neuter/return program that reduces the numbers of street dogs may at the same time encourage a rapid increase in the feral cat population--or immigration of monkeys or street pigs, or even jackals and leopards in some habitats.


Effective neuter/return program planning requires identifying the possible effects involving other species, and formulating responses for whatever might result.

 

Not all animals can be returned

The goal of any neuter/return program is to return sterilized animals to their habitat to live out the balance of their lives, ideally with better quality of life than they had before.


Yet not every animal can be returned to the habitat from which the animal came. ANIMAL PEOPLE has often editorially reminded readers that the prime directive for doing neuter/return successfully, in a humane manner, is to never return animals to unsuitable habitat. This includes habitat where there is a strong likelihood that the animals will be poisoned, shot, or trapped for dispatch by animal control.


Returning a feral dog or cat to habitat where the animal has already learned to avoid natural predators, such as coyotes, foxes, leopards, or tigers, is merely recognizing that the animal is living as wildlife, enjoying the freedoms and trying to evade the risks that normally accompany wild existence. Returning a feral dog or cat to habitat where the animal is unwelcome and will be subject to human persecution may cause more suffering than just humanely killing the animal in the first place, before putting the animal through the stress of sterilization surgery. Inherently unsuitable habitat includes land reserved for wildlife; multiple use public parks, where the presence of dogs and cats may interfere with other uses, leading to complaints that end with the animals being killed; and sites where the visibility of dogs and cats leads to abandonments of pets.


Even when the habitat is suitable, not every cat or dog captured by a neuter/return program is a suitable candidate for release. Sick or injured animals should not be put back into situations where they will suffer and may spread diseases to others. Abandoned ex-pets are usually conspicuous by visibly suffering from life as feral or street animals, and should not be returned to a homeless existence. Easily tamed cats and dogs, including kittens and puppies, can be rehomed. Where the goal is to reduce the numbers of cats and dogs as rapidly as possible, socializing the tamest animals for adoption is usually the quickest way to show progress.


Neuter/return is often promoted as an alternative to sheltering animals, as in the "no kill, no shelter" model advanced by Gerardo Vicente, DVM, of the McKee Project in Costa Rica, and the "no kill" strategy advanced by No Kill Advocacy Center founder Nathan Winograd. Indeed, neuter/return is an effective and humane alternative to sheltering many feral cats and street dogs, but it does not eliminate entirely the need to shelter or foster animals, even as part of neuter/return programs.


From the very beginning, a successful neuter/return program must decide what it will do with animals who cannot be returned to their habitat, and must develop facilities appropriate to the chosen responses. If a neuter/return program chooses not to operate a shelter or fostering network, it must partner with other people who provide these services, or be prepared to kill animals for whom there are no other options.


The volume of animals a neuter/return program may handle who cannot be returned to their habitat should not be underestimated. The 1992 ANIMAL PEOPLE demonstration of neuter/return found that about 25% of the feral cats handled could not be returned to their habitat, of whom 6% required euthanasia due to illness or injury, while 19% were either adopted out or kept by ANIMAL PEOPLE for the remainder of their lives. Several survived as long as 15 years.


Our experience, in light of subsequent results from other programs around the U.S. and in the developing world, turned out to be unusually positive. Many, especially those handling street dogs in areas with endemic rabies, find that they cannot return even half of the animals they receive to their habitat. Three recently visited by ANIMAL PEOPLE, in far removed parts of the world, found that they euthanized from 15% to 33% of the dogs they handled, chiefly due to signs of exposure to rabies.


Up to 40% of the dogs these organizations received were held either as prospects for adoption or due to dangerous behavior, which increased among male dogs when the numbers of females coming into heat declined. Specifically, large packs formed in pursuit of the remaining fertile females, pursued passers-by, and--though not killed--were microchipped or tattooed as unreleasable by the community dogcatchers. Because killing healthy dogs is morally unacceptable to each organization, the outcome in each case is that a program initially focused on neuter/return has become refocused to a considerable extent upon sheltering, at great cost to program resources.


The goals of a successful neuter/return project must be identified right from the beginning, and may differ for the various stakeholders, including the humane organization undertaking the project, the donors to the project, the owners of property where the animals congregate, the people who feed the animals, the people who object to the animals' presence, the local public health officials, and the community government. All should be consulted. The neuter/return process must be adequately explained to each set of stakeholders. Cooperation should be solicited to the utmost extent possible, and tolerance of the project should be established, if possible, even in absence of active cooperation.


Introducing the first phases of the project as a trial or demonstration will usually help to win tolerance, including of mistakes that may occur as the project participants develop the necessary skills and capacity to work on a larger scale.


Neuter/return practitioners must identify in each place they work whether the primary goal of most of the stakeholders is extirpation, meaning that there are no more feral cats or street dogs, or merely a reduction of problems associated with the animals. Whether the goal is feasible must be carefully assessed, along with the possible consequences of success.


For example, extirpating a feral cat or street dog population is usually not possible where poor sanitation makes food waste and rodents abundant, but reducing the numbers of cats or dogs may encourage the arrival of raccoons, coyotes, or monkeys, who may be seen as even more problematic. The solution may be for the neuter/return team to work in partnership with agencies or civic organizations whose focus is improving sanitation.


The most successful neuter/return projects document each result as it occurs. If a cat colony or the number of dogs on a street corner declines, this is recorded. Conversely, if two declining cat colonies or street corner dog packs merge, making one larger while the other disappears, this is noted, in case it needs to be explained to someone.


Frequent consultations to compare observations ensure that other stakeholders are seeing the same things happen. If there are differences in perception, the differences are explored, and conflicting observations are reconciled. Sometimes this requires making a change in procedure--for example, by counting animals at a different hour.


Ideally, satisfied stakeholders in a well-planned and efficiently executed neuter/return demonstration project will become advocates for an expanded project. Several successful demonstration projects, of increasing scope and in increasingly challenging habitats, may be needed before skeptical public officials are persuaded to take the political risk inherent in replacing an established catch-and-kill or poisoning program with neuter/return as policy. Realistically, the time from inception of a first demonstration neuter/return project to acceptance of neuter/return as public policy will take at least three to five years of documented success, and may take 10 years or more.


As urgent as the needs of the individual animals served by neuter/return often are, attempting to establish neuter/return as public policy before the capacity to do it is adequately developed is usually a prescription for failure. The consequences of a failure leading to public policy decisions reinforcing catch-and-kill or poisoning are not easily undone.


Far more beneficial for animals in the long run is to work in a stepwise, incremental manner, ensuring that each task in introducing neuter/return is done effectively and persuasively, avoiding catastrophic failures whose effects may hinder the development of other neuter/return programs, not only locally but worldwide.

 


-------------------------------------------------------------------

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2006:

Verbally aggressive tactics raise issue of freedom of speech vs. uttering threats

[EXCERPT]

 

Attorney Marianne Bessey, who heads Friends of Philly Zoo Elephants, on February 23, 2006 told Larry Eichel of the Philadelphia Inquirer that she hopes to sue the Philadelphia Zoo for banning her from the zoo grounds, based on several of her postings to an Internet chatroom called "The Elephant Connection."


Writing and campaigning under the assumed name Rowan Morrison, taken from the name of a character in the pagan cult film classic The Wicker Man, Bessey on February 16, 2006 allegedly wrote in a posting addressed to Philadephia Zoo director Pete Hoskins that "You have outlived your life expectancy by some 10 years," that she wished him "nightmares every night until you die, which should be very soon," and that "Maybe you should be kept in a concrete closet for six months to hasten your demise."


In a later posting the same day, Bessey allegedly added, "Pete Hoskins thinks he is going to have a peaceful, uneventful retirement... he has another think coming."


Hoskins is to retire this spring.

Before barring Bessey, the zoo asked the Philadelphia police to investigate the postings as possible threats. "I think this is definitely illegal," Bessey told Eichel. "I have the freedom of speech to express my opinion, and they're just trying to prevent me from getting information out to the public."


The Philadelphia Zoo has acknowledged that the quarter-acre habitat occupied presently by four elephants is too small, and has said it may give up the elephants, since it lacks the funding to expand their habitat. Friends of Philly Zoo Elephants has asked that the elephants be sent to the 2,700-acre Elephant Sanctuary at Hohenwald, Tennessee.


Corrects spelling error

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

The search goes on for a single-dose non-surgical way to sterilize dogs & cats

DALLAS--More than 50 contenders for the $25 million Michelson Prize for the invention of a successful non-surgical method of sterilizing dogs and cats registered for an intensive briefing about how to win the money at the April 8-10, 2010 Alliance for Contraception of Cats & Dogs conference in Dallas.


The first step, for most, will be winning some of the $50 million research and development funding offered by Found Animals Foundation founder Gary K. Michelson, M.D., to help the contenders approach the jackpot.
To do that, the contenders must present ideas that clear rigorous screening for feasibility, practicality, and safety by the Found Animals Foundation scientific advisors.


As holder of more than 900 patents issued or pending worldwide for medical instruments, procedures, and other medical devices, mostly used to treat back pain, Michelson has a clear idea what he wants to see: a single-dose treatment that will quickly, inexpensively sterilize dogs and cats for life, and can win regulatory approval for widespread use.


If the money was equally distributed among the applicants, Found Animals Foundation executive director Aimee Gilbreath told ANIMAL PEOPLE, it would soon be gone, not necessarily with anything to show for it. Millions of dollars have already been invested during the past 50-plus years to develop animal contraceptives, but no product has come close to meeting the Michelson criteria, simple as they are.


The Michelson Prize may go to the inventors of an immunocontraceptive, a chemosterilant, or some other method as yet unknown, but it is not likely to go to anyone soon, cautions Gilbreath.


"To our knowledge, there isn't any product at nearly a stage of development that is worth getting excited about," Gilbreath said. "Our presentations will focus on work in the research pipeline and discussion of what has been tried in the past, why it hasn't worked, and promising new avenues for exploration."

 

Why not pet food?

Animal advocates may be disappointed that the Michelson Prize criteria do not include the further stipulation that the winning method be potentially accessable for unsupervised use by individual rescuers. For more than 30 years dog and cat rescuers have yearned for a product that could live up to the promises that accompanied the introductions of several different "birth control pet foods" between 1963 and 1978.


At that time there was still relatively little concern about the longterm effects of birth control drugs on human health, almost no consideration of the use of pharmaceuticals as biological weapons, and was not yet any regulatory attention to the effects of drug residues in in the environment.


The "birth control pet foods" included progestin-based hormonal contraceptives. Repeated dosing was required, and sustained use led often to pyometra. Two products from this generation of animal contraceptives are still available--Ovaban, for dogs, and Feral-Stat, for cats. But neither is actually a sterilant. The "birth control pet food" introduced with the greatest fanfare, Mibolerone, was a progestin product closely related to the post-coital human contraceptive RU-486. It had the same issues as the rest, however, and the active ingredient was banned in the U.S. as an abortificant from 1988 to 2000.


"I'm not sure that we'll ever get to something that could be distributed by lay people, but I bet we could get to something that a vet tech can do--perhaps under indirect veterinary supervision," Gilbreath told ANIMAL PEOPLE. "Our goal is for it to be at least as easy as vaccinations are now," Gilbreath added, anticipating that the Michelson Prize will probably be won by an injectible product.


Procter & Gamble toxicologist Mark Lafranconi, manager of the $300 million P&G program to develop alternatives to animal testing, surveyed the P&G regulatory experts on behalf of ANIMAL PEOPLE as to whether a "birth control pet food" could gain regulatory approval today, even if it worked perfectly in laboratory settings.


"I have polled across our organization and the unanimous conclusion is this type of initiative would never receive approval," Lafranconi reported, "no matter what the jurisdiction, for the reasons you have already identified. Inability to control access and exposure is the major limiting factor."


Agreed Linda Rhodes, vice president for clinical development at AlcheraBio LLC, of Metuchen, New Jersey, a division of Argenta Inc., "I would say that there is no chance that the government will approve a substance to be given to feral animals using a bait, flavored substance or food, by lay people, given what we know about the science today. In order to not impact people, especially children, or other wildlife, such a substance would have to be completely species-specific. For example, a drug that could only be effective in cats and no other birds or mammals. Given today's science, there is no drug or substance that I can think of that has that level of species specificity."


The oral rabies vaccine Raboral has been used successfully since 1969 in foxes, raccoons, and coyotes, but only in pellets that can only be dissolved by the stomach enzymes of the specific target species.


"Oral rabies vaccine scattered as bait for raccoons, fox, and other wildlife, has been successful," Rhodes acknowledged, "but only because it is administered as part of government programs, and because human or multi-species ingestion has only beneficial results, i.e. vaccination against rabies."


Rhodes was previously director of clinical development projects for production animals at Merial Ltd., the maker of Raboral. She now chairs the Alliance for Contraception in Dogs & Cats board of directors.


Whether a new "birth control pet food" could be marketed today "really will depend on the country," said Humane Society of the U.S. chief of staff Andrew Rowan, an ACC&D board member who has professionally followed developments in toxicology and birth control for more than 30 years.


"You can buy all sorts of medications over the counter in many developing countries without much in the way of regulatory oversight," Rowan pointed out, "so if one could develop a chemosterilant that was not too toxic, it could find its way to the market in some countries for use by the general public. In the U.S.," Rowan suggested, "it would depend how it was classified. If it was viewed as an animal health product, then the veterinary profession would be loath to cede control over distribution. If it was classed as a pesticide, the situation would be different. You can look at Ovocontrol as an example. It is available in the U.S. for use by non-medical people because it is classed as a pesticide. Of course, something targeted rather narrowly at bird reproduction is likely to be treated rather differently from a chemical that interferes with mammalian reproduction."


Offered David M. Petrick, who is both a veterinarian and a lawyer, and heads Delta Consortium Regulatory Consulting Inc. in Princeton, New Jersey, "If the issue is whether a product will be offered for sale over-the-counter, at which point all professional judgment is lost, I don't think so, but it will certainly depend very specifically on the product itself, how it is administered, the margin of safety, and safety to the environment. But even if the product is a prescription veterinary drug, the regulations state they can only be used 'by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.' In this case, 'on the order' could certainly mean a group of volunteers designated and trained by a veterinarian, who would be supplying the product and who would be responsible in the Food & Drug Administration's eyes. Likewise, if the Environmental Protection Agency were involved, EPA may require a certified pesticide applicator to use the material, in which case it would not be a vet, but a licensed pesticide professional."


Petrick previously worked in regulatory affairs and product development for both American Cyanamid and Schering-Plough Animal Health. He is also vice president of regulatory affairs for Velcera Pharmaceuticals.
USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service regulatory specialist John Eisemann, identified by Janet Raloff of Science News as "the go-to guy for identifying what permissions, waivers or requests are required before wildlife managers can apply poisons or anti-fertility drugs," told the spring 2010 national meeting of the American Chemical Society about "legal tactics by which wildlife officials can thwart invasive vertebrate species with off-the-shelf chemicals," Raloff wrote in the March 22, 2010 edition of Science News.


"He noted, for instance," Raloff continued, "how scientists have used a contraceptive vaccine," called Gonacon, "designed to control white-tail deer populations, on rodents. It offered a nonlethal approach to reining in a population explosion of non-native fox squirrels on a University of California campus. In another instance," Raloff said, "wildlife managers employed a cholesterol inhibiting drug to reduce sex hormone levels--and the urge to reproduce--among monk parakeets."


So some openings may remain for introducing a "birth control pet food," if such a product is developed, even if it does not meet the Michelson criteria.

 

SenesTech

Despite expert skepticism, a June 2008 report by Arizona Biosciences News rekindled hope that a "birth control pet food" might be just around the corner.


The report focused on the work of a company called SenesTech to develop a rodent birth control product called ContraPest.


"Until recently," said Arizona Biosciences News, "the active ingredient in ContraPest was known in the scientific community mainly as a menace. The industrial chemical 4-vinylcyclohexene diepoxide, or VCD, is widely used in manufacturing products such as tires, polyesters, and epoxy resins. Women working in industrial settings who have received high-dosage exposure to VCD have suffered serious reproductive damage."


Partnering with the Australian government's Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, SenesTech has tested VCD as a possible way to sterilize rats and wallabies. SenesTech has also experimented with a VCD product for dogs called ChemSpay.


Concluded Arizona Biosciences News, "One of SenesTech's first tests of ChemSpay occurred on the Navajo Nation." SenesTech founder Loretta Mayer's team "treated 170 dogs with VCD; all are sterile, and none have died. With funding support from the U.S. Humane Society, SenesTech is continuing research toward a single-injection treatment that veterinarians and public-health officials could use to control overpopulation of both domesticated and feral dogs and cats."


Rowan was unable to identify any involvement by the Humane Society of the U.S., but HSUS is a major funder of the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs, and ACC&D did fund one early study of ChemSpay.


Explained ACC&D president Joyce Briggs, "ChemSpay, initially developed to model human menopause in mice, was a novel approach to non-surgical sterilization which piqued our interest early on. ACC&D funded a small study in 2006 to evaluate whether the ChemSpay approach may be effective in dogs. That study was not able to demonstrate effectiveness. SenesTech's subsequent work has focused on mice and rats, though representatives of the company have said that they plan to return to work on formulations for cats and dogs in the future. ACC&D recognizes that this approach is in very early stages in terms of applications in cats and dogs. We have asked SenesTech to keep us apprised of progress , and will share any relevant, non-proprietary information that becomes available."


SenesTech did not respond to repeated inquiries from ANIMAL PEOPLE in 2009 and early 2010. According to the SenesTech web site, "Consumption of ContraPest will cause female rat sterility within one month of ingestion. ContraPest is being formulated in a rat attractant specific bait minimizing consumption by non-target species. Our product is environmentally neutral. It is rapidly inactivated in dosed rats and the excreted metabolite is inactive. ContraPest will not bioaccumulate nor enter the food chain. Therefore predators of the rats will not be accidentally dosed. The rats who consume the ContraPest bait have no physiologic changes other than elimination of all eggs in the ovary, resulting in permanent sterility. It is expected to be marketed within two years to the 13 Southeast Asian countries that are responsible for the vast majority of world rice production."
Confirmed Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation vertebrate pest stream leader Lyn Hinds, "I have been undertaking trials on this chemical product here in Australia and in Indonesia. However," she said, "due to the commercial-in-confidence nature of the research, no specific publications or details of the results are available at this stage."


VCD studies
But scientific journals have reported about the contraceptive effects of VCD.


Headlined Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology in August 1999, "A Single Dose of the Ovotoxicant 4-Vinylcyclohexene Diepoxide Is Protective in Rat Primary Ovarian Follicles." Though longterm exposure to VCD can produce sterility, the five co-authors concluded that "These data provide evidence for a 'protective' response against the normal rate of atresia in primary ovarian follicles following exposure."


Since the Michelson Prize requires that the winning substance be effective after a single dose, this finding would appear to exclude ChemSpay.


Summarized a 2001 report in Biology of Reproduction, "Following 30 days of daily dosing, the majority of small preantral follicles in immature as well as in adult rats are destroyed. Previous studies have shown that 15 daily doses of VCD (80 mg/kg, i.p.) destroy about 50% of oocytes contained in small preantral ovarian follicles in rats."


In other words, a VCD product might have to be administered every day for two weeks to a month to be effective.

 

VCD is carcinogen

VCD can have other effects. The International Agency for Research on Cancer found in 1994 that "Skin application of VCD produced benign and malignant skin tumours in all studies in mice and in a study in rats. In one study in mice, it also increased incidences of ovarian and lung tumours in females."


National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences researcher James Huff confirmed in Toxicological Sciences in 2001 that VCD "induced both squamous cell and basal cell neoplasms of the skin" of most male and female rats and mice. "Both benign and malignant tumors of the ovaries were caused by dermal exposure in female mice," Huff added, also noting a possible association of VCD exposure with lung cancer in mice.


The production of squamous cell tumors is of particular concern in considering VCD applications for use in dogs and cats. Explains University of Illinois veterinarian Sandra Manfra Marretta in Recognition and Treatment of Oral Tumors, "Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common oral tumor in the cat and is the second most common oral tumor in the dogŠThe prognosis in dogs with oral squamous cell carcinomas if therapy is timely and correct is fair with approximately 50% of treated dogs living one year. The prognosis in cats with oral squamous cell carcinoma is very poor because of the rapid growth of this tumor in cats."


Pharmaceutical developers often thread their way through a maze of potential obstacles to perfecting and marketing new products, including the possibility that an ingredient may cause cancer at particular dose levels. Thus the published studies indicate not impossibility so much as the potential degree of difficulty involved in perfecting ChemSpay and winning regulatory approval for it.

 

600 Million

But almost a year and a half after the Arizona Biosciences News appeared, ANIMAL PEOPLE heard from five different animal advocacy donors and fundraisers, just a few weeks apart, that ChemSpay or an unnamed similar product will, as one put it, "Change the world!" One of them specifically cited SenesTech as the developer.


Four of the five, including the one who mentioned SenesTech, turned out to have associations with a new nonprofit organization called 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You, headed by Alex Pacheco, who cofounded PETA in 1981 and in 1998, after leaving PETA, briefly headed the New England Anti-Vivisection Society.


Wrote Pacheco in a December 13, 2009 web posting, "We are talking with scientists about teaming up to develop animal birth control pellets that will allow us to end a vast amount of suffering around the world. It's a long, expensive and complex process that involves everything from getting FDA and EPA approval to negotiating with the governments of impoverished nations, where we plan to distribute the birth control pellets for free."
The 600 Million rhetoric escalated in connection with a February 28, 2010 dinner hosted by Animal Rescue Resource Found-ation cofounders Craig and Pam Neilson, of Vista, California, to promote investment in developing a "Super Birth Control Pill for Dogs." The Animal Rescue Resource Foundation, formerly called the Give Some Life Foundation, has funded surgical sterilization of more than 10,000 dogs in northern Mexico during the past seven years.


Elaborated a 600 Million appeal mailing, sent in mid-March, "We are in the process of developing specialized, long-term 'super' birth control pills (in the form of food pellets) for dogs... formulas that will provide years of contraception, from just one doseŠIt must be a pill. Injections will not solve the problem because they are too difficult to administer to millions of dogs running loose. Pills on the other hand can easily be mixed with food. We are in the process of hiring scientists to fast-track this. We are building a network to enable distribution of the pill in more than 60 countries."


Asked for specifics, Pacheco told ANIMAL PEOPLE only, "I have access to data and documents which you do not." Pacheco said he was "preparing a list of additional documents and statements for publication," and would "release the documents when they are ready to be released," but the only new item he released in the next three weeks was a letter similar to his own appeals, signed by Jeff Young, DVM, of Planned Pethood Plus in Denver, who also cited no specifics about the birth control product.


Noted ACC&D director of outreach Karen Green, "Alex has not publicly named the technology he's referring to or the partner he's working with. SenesTech would make some sense, since that technology most closely matches Alex's claims about a permanent sterilant delivered orally. However, the SenesTech approach is still in very early stage research in terms of proving efficacy and safety in dogs and cats, and beyond that stage, there are years of hurdles to getting regulatory approval. While we would love to see something available that matches Alex's description, I'm afraid we--including our network of directors, scientific advisors, and colleagues in the field--have seen no evidence that such technology is anywhere near."


Added Green and Briggs in a written statement, "We are pleased to see other organizations working on new ways of controlling pet populations. We hope that 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You will help raise awareness about the need for new ways to control reproduction in animals.


"Until the recent announcement about the near-ready 'super birth control pill,'" the statement said, "the stated goal of 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You was to create a birth control pill for animals--focusing on dogs--which provides contraception for at least six months and can be mixed into food for easy delivery. ACC&D has long believed that cat and dog contraceptives must be long-lasting--a minimum of three years, but ideally permanent--in order to have significant impact. Particularly for the stray and free-roaming dogs in developing countries, a product requiring semi-annual treatment is impractical. While we do believe there may be niche use for a product lasting six months, we believe such a product is unlikely to be effective for large-scale population control."


ANIMAL PEOPLE president Kim Barltett disagrees. "Since true street dogs-- not 'community dogs'-- in the developing world have an average lifespan of around three years, with possibly five breeding cycles for each female who survives that long, an oral birth control formula lasting six months would have the potential to cut breeding by about 20%. This would be a huge reduction in the birth rate by itself, and if the product were effectively administered twice a year to all the female dogs in an area, the birth rate in the treatment area would plummet. There are a lot of variables and plenty of opportunities for improper dosing, but I disagree with the conclusions of ACC&D that a contraceptive lasting only six months would have an insignificant impact on a street dog population."
--Merritt Clifton

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds 2008 California anti-downer law

SAN FRANCISCO--The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on March 31, 2009 upheld both California legislation prohibiting the slaughter of downed livestock and the principle that states may enforce livestock handling and slaughter standards more stringent than those required by federal law.


Introduced by assembly member Paul Krekorian (D-Burbank) at request of the Humane Farming Association, the California law made a misdemeanor of buying, selling, processing, or butchering a non-ambulatory animal for human consumption. Downed animals must instead be euthanized.


The law stipulates that, "While in transit or on the premises of a stockyard, auction, market agency, dealer, or slaughterhouse, a nonambulatory animal may not be dragged at any time, or pushed with equipment at any time, but shall be moved with a sling or on a stoneboat or other sled-like or wheeled conveyance."


Summarized U.S. Court of Appeals chief judge Alex Kozinski, who authored the March 31 verdict for a three-judge panel, "On January 30, 2008, the Humane Society of the United States released a video depicting images of nonambulatory cows-unable to stand or walk-being kicked, electrocuted, dragged with chains and rammed with forklifts" at the Westland/ Hallmark slaughterhouse in Chino, California. "Health professionals warned that meat from these 'downer' cows was more likely to be diseased," Kozinski wrote. "The video triggered the largest beef recall in U.S. history."


Endorsed by California governor Arnold Schwarznegger in July 2008, the California anti-downer law was to take effect on January 1, 2009. Some pig producers and pig slaughterhouse owners contended that the law would prevent the slaughter of 2.5% of the pigs they receive. Suing on their behalf, the National Meat Association won an injunction from U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill that kept the law from taking effect. O'Neill agreed that the California law is preempted by the Federal Meat Inspection Act.


Reversing O'Neill, Kozinski noted that federal jurisprudence includes "a strong presumption against preemption," except when a law specifically says that it pre-empts state law. This is especially true, Kozinski wrote, of "matters like health and animal welfare, which have historically been regulated by states."


Further, Kozinski wrote, "Two circuits have held that the Federal Meat Inspect-ion Act doesn't preempt state laws." Kozinski cited the appellate verdicts that in 2007 upheld the Texas and Illinois bans on horse slaughter.
Concluded Kozinski, "In effect, the district court reasoned that states may ban the slaughter of certain species," as the Texas and Illinois rulings affirmed, "but once a state allows a species to be slaughtered, it cannot impose further restrictions. Hogwash. California's prohibition of the slaughter of nonambulatory animals does not duplicate federal procedures; it withdraws from slaughter animals who are unable to walk to their death."
Kozinski agreed with O'Neill that the National Meat Association "is likely to succeed on its preemption claim" against the humane handling provision of the California law, but that alone would not be enough to void the law, since "it hasn't shown a likelihood of irreparable injury or that the balance of the equities and the public interest tip in its favor for this provision. The district court therefore abused its discretion in granting a preliminary injunction," Kozinski finished, "and the injunction is hereby vacated."


Said Humane Farming Association founder Brad Miller, "The Appeals Court agreed with us on every point. In other words, the nation's first comprehensive ban on the transport and butchering of downed pigs and other farm animals remains intact.


"The battle is likely to continue back in the lower court," Miller acknowledged, since the National Meat Association is expected to try again to overturn the humane handling provision that Kozinski found vulnerable, "but this is a good indicator," Miller said, "of how things will go if and when we need to appeal any future bad decisions."


From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Gyrocopter pilot acquitted of killing huntsman

BIRMINGHAM, U.K.--A Birmingham Crown Court jury on March 17, 2010 acquitted anti-fox hunting gyrocopter pilot Bryan Griffiths of alleged manslaughter by gross negligence in connection with the March 9, 2009 death of Warwickshire Hunt owl keeper Trevor Morse at Long Marston airfield. Morse, 48, was killed when the gyrocopter propeller vertically cleaved his head.


The Hunting Act of 2004 banned hunting with dogs, but with many exemptions, including a provision allowing the use of dogs to flush out prey for falconers. Traditional fox hunts have continued since then by carrying raptors, including owls, who would not normally hunt by daylight.


Griffiths, 55, of Wiltshire Close, Bedsworth, Warwickshire, had since 2006 been flying hunt observation missions with John Curtin, 49, who more than 20 years ago was "jailed for two years for planning to dig up the remains of the 10th Duke of Beaufort and send the head to the Princess Royal," reported Steve Bird of the London Times.
Curtin later "led campaigns at Huntingdon Life Sciences' laboratories and was questioned by police in connection with robbing the grave of Gladys Hammond, a relative of owners of a farm breeding guinea-pigs for experiments," Bird added. The jury was not told about Curtin's history.


"Griffiths's defence team said Morse tried to grab Curtin shortly before take-off," Bird said, "raising the possibility that he had been recognised."


The altercation started, the jury heard, after Warwickshire hunt master Antony Spencer organized a scheme to keep the gyrocopter from taking off again after it landed to refuel. Morse and another hunt member, Julie Sargeant, engaged in a "white-knuckle" race to the airfield, Sargeant testified. Morse, a much larger man than either Griffiths or Curtain, then stood in front of the gyrocopter, taking photographs, and called Spencer.


Model airplane flyer Michael Tipping, an uninvolved witness, testified that Morse was "intrusive and aggressive. The pilot told me that he thought there was a gang coming. He was rushing around, desperate to get away. He started to look really nervous. The pilot announced in a loud voice, 'Keep clear of the propeller.'"


Peter Bunce, 70, who brought 40 gallons of fuel for the gyrocopter, videotaped the confrontation. Griffiths put just 10 gallons in the gyrocopter tank before trying to take off.


"The video showed that Griffiths twice motioned for Morse to move aside," Bird wrote. The video also captured Bunce asking Morse to step aside as the gyrocopter advanced. Then Morse was hit. Griffiths called an ambulance and police before Spencer arrived, followed by South Shropshire Hunt master Otis Ferry--he son of rock star Bryan Ferry--and his girlfriend Francesca Nimmo.

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Blue Cross of India cofounder Usha Sundaram, 86

Usha Sundaram, 86, died on April 6, 2010 in Chennai. Taught to fly at age 20 by her husband Captain V. Sundaram, who was among the first pilots for Tata Airways, Usha Sundaram initially flew the VT-AXX that was personal aircraft of the Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamaraja Wodeyar Bahadur, a noted patron of music. The name of his plane has recently been revived for an Air India jetliner. From 1945 to 1951 the Sundarams were pilots for the first Indian prime minister, Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru. After Usha Sundaram became the first graduate of the Indian government flight training school in Bangalore in 1949, she continued alone as Nehru's pilot while her husband devoted more of his time to airline business. Flying a twin-engine DC-3, Usha Sundaram distinguished herself at instrument flying in inclement weather, when instrument flying was still relatively new, and on several medical evacuation flights which required prolonged travel at low altitudes, since cabin pressurization was then unreliable. The Sundarams continued to fly together recreationally until 1996, a year before V. Sundaram's death. They "hold the world record for the fastest flying time (27 hours) between London and Madras in a piston engine aircraft," The Hindu recalled in March 2008. Always fond of animals, the Sundarams cofounded the Blue Cross of India at their home in Chennai in 1959. Their son Chinny Krishna, then 15, participated in animal care and rescue for the first several years, then earned an engineering degree in the U.S. Upon his return to India in 1964, the Blue Cross was formally incorporated, with the Sundarams, Chinny Krishna, and his bride Nanditha Krishna among the founding trustees. In 1966, Chinny Krishna began developing the prototype for the Animal Birth Control program that became Indian national policy in 1997, funded by the Indian government since 2003. Usha Sundaram continued as a Blue Cross volunteer in various capacities to the end of her life. The Blue Cross of India now has four animal hospital and shelter complexes in the Chennai area. The Blue Cross of Hyderabad, begun in 1992 by actress Amala Akkineni, is not an affiliate, but was named in honor of the Blue Cross of India. The Blue Cross organizations work closely together.

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Obituaries

Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, 81, died of an apparent heart attack on March 10, 2010 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. After 10 years as Grand Mufti of Egypt, Tantawi was in 1996 named Chief Imam and Shaikh of the al-Azhar Mosque at al-Azhar University in Cairo, considered the leading center of religious study in Sunni Islam. Tantawi led the funeral prayers for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2004, but argued against indiscriminate attacks on Israelis, and condemned suicide bombers, Saddam Hussein, and al Qaida. Tantawi issued frequent fatwahs, or religious opinions, upholding the rights of women, including in opposition to veiling in classrooms and genital mutilation. At request of Egyptian Society of Animal Friends cofounder Ahmed el-Sherbiny, Tantawi on April 24, 2008 issued a fatwa meant to reinforce observance of the intent of hallal slaughter. "Any action incompatible with kindness to animals or treating them any way other than with mercy at the time of slaughter is forbidden and sinful, and is inconsistent with the kindness to animals that Islam requires," Tantawi wrote. "This includes transporting animals. Transport must be done in a way that is comfortable and ensures the animal's safety."

 

Dana Payne, 54, died of cancer on March 20, 2010 in Shoreline, Washington. Payne became a keeper's aide at the Wood-land Park Zoo in Seattle in 1974. After an interlude at the Chaffee Zoo in Fresno, Calif-ornia, he returned to the Woodland Park Zoo as a reptile keeper in 1983. He became curator of reptiles in 2003. Payne also served informally as the Woodland Park Zoo historian.

 

Edgar Wayburn, M.D., 103, died on March 5, 2010 at his home in San Francisco. Joining the Sierra Club in 1939, Wayburn eventually served five terms as Sierra Club president, while practicing and teaching medicine for more than 50 years. "Wayburn had central roles in protecting 104 million acres of Alaskan wilderness; establishing and enlarging Redwood National Park and Point Reyes National Seashore in California; and starting the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in and around San Francisco," recalled Douglas Martin of The New York Times. His wife of 53 years, nature writer Peggy Elliot Wayburn, died in 2002.

 

Walter Plowright, 87, died on February 19, 2010 in London. Commissioned into the Royal Army Veterinary Corps in 1944, Plowright was sent to Kenya, where he encountered rinderpest, a disease which killed up to 90% of the African cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, giraffes, and wildebeests that it afflicted. Plowright from 1956 to retirement in 1981 worked to develop and perfect a vaccine against rinderpest, which eventually proved so effective that his death came only months ahead of an anticipated announcement that rinderpest has been eradicated. Plowright also applied his research to developing vaccines for several other cattle diseases.

 

Audrey Wright-Anderson, 77, died on March 15, 2008. Wright-Anderson founded the Coalition for Animal Protection in North Omaha, Nebraska, in 1991, and was president until it disbanded in 2006. The organization did both animal rescue and animal rights and vegan advocacy.

 

Nancy Ring, 54, died of breast cancer on January 17, 2010. Heading Summit County Animal Control, in Frisco, Colorado, since 1982, Ring lobbied to pass the Colorado felony cruelty law and helped to develop the Colorado state program for certifying animal control officers.

 

Simbarashe Batau, 22, a rhino guard on the Eldorado Ranch near Macheke, Zimbabwe, on February 27, 2010 met three poachers. "When he asked them what they were doing," reported Zimbabwe Conserv-ation Task Force founder Johnny Rodrigues they responded that they were shooting baboons. He ordered them to leave and they opened fire, wounding him so badly that he died in hospital the next morning." Batau left a wife and infant daughter.

 

Ray Ashton, 64, died on March 10, 2010. Author of The Life of the Gopher Tortoise, Ashton and his wife Pat cofounded the environmental consulting firm Ashton, Ashton & Associates in Archer, Florida, and the Ashton Biodiversity Research & Preserv-ation Institute in Alachua County, Florida.

 

Doyle Nordyke, 82, died on February 11, 2010 in Austin, Texas. Cofounding the Austin Humane Society in 1949, Nordyke served for 36 years as executive director. Houston and Austin in 1985 became the last two U.S. cities to abolish killing shelter animals by decompression, against the opposition of the Austin Humane Society, which then held the Austin animal control contract. Nordyke retired coincidental with the decision.

 

Grelia Smith, 44, of San Carlos, California, on March 28, 2010 drowned at Sharp State Beach in Pacifica while trying to rescue one of her two dogs from an undertow that had killed two other people in six months. Smith, her 14-year-old-daughter, and Clark Smith, her husband of two years, were at the beach exercising the dogs, who both survived.

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

BOOKS

Zoo Animals: Behaviour, Management, & Welfare
by Geoff Hosey, Vicky Melfi, & Sheila Pankhurst
Oxford University Press (198 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016), 2009.
660 pages, paperback. $50.00.

Zoo Animals: Behaviour, Management, & Welfare pulls together the sum of current perspectives about what constitutes "best practice" zookeeping into a single text. Though Zoo Animals might be used as the basis for a single university-level course, it is actually an entire curriculum for would-be zookeepers. Each of the 15 chapters could frame a course also including much supplementary reading--and the recommended texts are listed, included specialized web sites.

 

As the subtitle indicates, much of Zoo Animals focuses upon the need to accommodate and encourage natural animal behavior within the confines of an artificial environment. In addition to early chapters specifically addressing animal welfare, almost every chapter reminds zookeepers of animal welfare issues, including the perceptions and misperceptions that visitors may develop if either the conditions for the animals or the need to inform the public about what they are seeing is neglected.

 

Several of the first chapters of Zoo Animals review the evolution of zookeeping. Zoos in the 19th century turned away from the menagerie style of exhibition, featuring often overtly cruel popular entertainment, including staged animal fights, toward an emphasis on scientific study of animals and public education. While most zoos developed exhibits based on taxonomy, some of the most progressive moved toward "naturalistic" exhibits presaging the prevalent style of today.

 

The latter trend, however, was interrupted by what the authors call the "Disinfectant Era," in which an obsession with maintaining sanitation subsumed all other concerns for most of the 20th century. Both animal welfare and visitor appreciation of zoos deteriorated.

 

Ironically, the sterile environments of "Disinfectant Era" zoos eventually proved detrimental to both the physical and mental well-being of animals, as well as discouraging visitors from returning. Animal behavior observed at such zoos turned out to be atypical of animals in the wild. Captive breeding programs for most species failed in environments that so poorly suited the animals.

 

Animals thrived, bred, and repeat attendance grew, meanwhile, at the earliest semi-naturalistic zoos, even when they were badly mismanaged.
By the time the rise of the animal rights movement directed activist attention toward zoos, beginning in the 1970s, many of the best-respected leaders within the zoo community were already experimenting with redesign. Animal advocacy pressure helped zoo directors to raise the funds to rebuild practically everything, to the point that rebuilding at least one major exhibit per year is now standard practice at major zoos. Few zoos exist today, at least in the developed world, which have not been thoroughly reconfigured within the past several decades.

 

This has scarcely resolved all animal welfare problems, but the zoo community had already embarked upon a revolution in architecture to accommodate animal needs approximately 15 years before animal shelters began a similar transition in the last years of the 20th century.

 

Part of the purpose of redesign was, and is, to keep animals alive and well longer, and to encourage more successful captive breeding of rare and endangered species. The 1973 adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species significantly inhibited the ability of zoos to continuously restock themselves from the wild. For several decades the pretext of breeding rare species for eventual reintroduction to the wild also helped to shield zoos from activist criticism--but much of the zoo community itself now acknowledges that the "lifeboat" concept of zoo management is dated. Relatively few species have been successfully returned to the wild, in part because even if zoo-raised specimens retained the necessary suite of natural behaviors, their kind have typically become rare in the wild in the first place because their habitats have been transformed, and their survival depends upon the activity of many other species who are also no longer there, or no longer thriving.

 

Zoo Animals includes almost as much discussion of the relevant philosophical questions as of practical zookeeping procedures, in part because almost everything zookeepers do must be done with attention to why. Keeping animals healthy and relatively happy, for example, is not necessarily the same job as keeping them "wild," in situations where they have no need to either hunt or evade predation, and natural reproductive behavior must often be thwarted to prevent either overpopulation or inbreeding.
Inescapably, the metaphor of zoos as Noah's Ark carrying wildlife to eventually repopulate a depleted earth is yielding to the reality of indefinitely maintaining collections of selected species whose resemblance to actual wild animals may be mostly in external appearance. The ark may never land, at least not here on earth. The exercise might most resemble trying to keep animals alive in intergalactic spaceflight, taking multiple generations to reach planets orbiting distant stars.
--Merritt Clifton

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Companion Animals in Society by Stephen Zawistowski
Cengage Learning, Inc. (P.O. Box 6904, Florence, KY 41022), 2008.
560 pages, hardcover. $84.95.

What is a companion animal? American SPCA executive vice president Stephen L. Zawistowski starts Companion Animals in Society with definitions offered by Jared Diamond and the late former ASPCA president Roger Caras. An impressive body of research, Companion Animals in Society is loaded with references, graphs, and charts. Each chapter concludes with questions, hinting that the intended readership may be university students enrolled in an introductory survey course--perhaps Companion Animals 1-A.
Though Companion Animals in Society reviews topics such as puppy mills, animals and human health, and the pet food industry, it does not delve deeper than routine media coverage. It does, however, bring together subjects that are seldom covered together outside of ANIMAL PEOPLE. Zawistowski describes the evolution of animal shelters, beginning in New York City with opposition to the 19th century practice of drowning stray dogs in the East River; discusses pound seizure, perhaps the most contentious issue in humane work during the mid-to-late 20th century; and outlines the Asilomar Accords, which were written to reduce friction between conventional and no-kill animal shelters, but may have had the opposite effect.

 

A section about discrimination against disabled people and their service dogs includes relevant language from the Americans with Disabilities Act.

 

"People who use service animals cannot be discriminated against by privately owned businesses that serve the public," Zawistowski writes. But reality falls short of the intent of the law. Thousands of disabled people file complaints with the Department of Justice every year because service dogs are still denied access to public places. Violations also occur in public housing. Conversely, many people claim bogus disabilities as a pretext to take pets--even pythons--into public places as purported service animals. Undocumented "service dogs" have mauled people and other animals, including authentic service dogs, increasing pressure on the Department of Justice to tighten the Americans with Disabilities Act enforcement rules.

 

Zawistowsky discusses legal issues which might at a glance appear to have little to do with companion animals--for example, the workings of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Exotic pets, however, often are protected to some extent by a listing on one of the three CITES appendices. Unfortunately, CITES has not stopped poachers --including exotic pet traders--from driving some species to the verge of extinction, and not just in the developing world. Pet trafficking is also the leading threat to some reptile species right here in the U.S.

 

Companion animals in the U.S. are increasingly protected by law, and enforcement of laws against cruelty to companion animals has rapidly improved in recent decades. Dogfighting, long illegal, is now much more aggressively investigated and prosecuted. Puppy millers more often go to jail now, or pay hefty fines for committing mass neglect. Some communities and even states now limit how long dogs may be chained outdoors. But a wide gap has developed between the protection extended to dogs and cats, and the treatment of cattle, pigs, chickens and other farmed species, who still have virtually no protection from gruesome cruelty on factory farms, in transport, and at slaughter.

 

Veterinary medicine, Zawistowski explains, originally addressed economic concerns. Horses and oxen powered agrarian societies, so veterinary care evolved first to keep these animals fit for work.
For those new to the animal field, or young people interested in developing a career in animal welfare work, Companion Animals in Society would be a worthwhile investment. Discussions of canine sports, kennel clubs, bomb-sniffing dogs, dog training, animal hoarding, and the origins of cat litter provide a glimpse of what the companion animal field is all about. But for all you old dogs, there's not much you haven't already sniffed out somewhere else. --Debra J. White

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Los MUTTS
by Lorraine Chittock
Self-published: http://losmutts.com/order.htm
96 pages, paperback. $18.95.

Among the pervasive myths of humane work is that most street dogs are castoff pets, or are chiefly descended from pets. Though most street dogs may have some pet or working dog ancestors, most dogs worldwide have been street dogs for as long as streets have existed. Globally, most dogs still are street dogs. Even in the U.S. and Britain, pet dogs have outnmbered street dogs for less than a century.

 

The 70-odd photos and accompanying text in Los Mutts document the realities of street dogs' lives in Latin America--usually finding enough to eat, and congenial canine companionship, chiefly in refuse heaps; befriending receptive humans; and trying to avoid rabidicos and ordinary dog-haters armed with with traps, guns, and poison.

 

Los Mutts also details the little known but well-documented history of how the 16th century Spanish invaders brought havoc to dogs, as well as to Native Americans. Many tribes ate dogs sometimes, but the Conquistadores were the most voracious dog-eaters ever to afflict the New World, and compounded the habit by butchering Native Americans to feed their imported war dogs a diet of human flesh. In parts of Latin America the war dog lineage persists among some of the largest and most dangerous dump dogs discovered by canine historians.

--Merritt Clifton

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Cats without Cages:
The Story of Catman2
114 pages, paperback. $19.95.

Kevin, the Helpful Vampire Cat
Illustrated by Linda A. Richardson
29 pages, paperback. $12.95.

both by Harold Sims; Published by Catman2
(P.O. Box 2344, Cullowhee,
NC 28723), 2008.

"We don't adopt out many cats here," a North Carolina shelter manager told Harold Sims nearly 20 years ago. "This is dog country."

 

The shelter manager recommended to prospective cat adopters that they should look around dumpsters.
A retired Florida biology professor, Sims had recently relocated to rural North Carolina. Having previously volunteered at Florida animal shelters, Sims visited the shelter hoping to lend a hand. He was dismayed to find the few adoptable cats cramped in small cages, hidden down long hallway barely visible to the public.

 

"We don't have the room to keep them all, especially the cats," the shelter manager said. "What else can we do but put most of them to sleep?"

 

Sims became a feline broker, matching cats with adopters. Sims admits that he really didn't want to run a shelter, but, he realized, "If I was going to bring about change, I was going to have to do it by example."
Sims opened the all-cats Catman2 shelter in early 2004. Some of his plans for the shelter soom changed. On-site humane education was supended after teachers were unable or unwilling to control unruly students who scared the cats and destroyed shelter property. Plans for a retail store also fell through. But the shelter itself became a nationally well-regarded success.

 

Catman2, as Cats without Cages explains, is a low-budget and rather idiosyncratic operation, with no paid employees and no shelter telephone. To me, an answering service is insufficient communication. Nonetheless, Sims and Catman2 have done an enormous amount for homeless cats in western North Carolina.

 

Kevin, the Helpful Vampire Cat is the story of one of those cats, once homeless, hungry and cold, a brown tabby with protruding fangs and a pronounced overbite. Kevin was abandoned as a kitten with three skittish littermates on the Catman2 shelter's front steps. Volunteers socialized the kittens. Two were eventually adopted. Kevin and a female littermate remained at Catman2.

 

Kevin may have been a worthless deformed stray to someone, but at Catman2 he became the top cat. Seeming to know when a newly admitted cat needed affection, Kevin snuggled next to the nervous Nellies until they settled down. His unruly fangs and overbite became part of his charm. He died young, from a massive stroke, with a long list of friends, both human and animal. --by Debra J. White

 

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Animalkind by Jean Kazez
Wiley-Blackwell (111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030), 2010.
216 pages, paperback. $24.95.

Immanuel Kant theorized in the Metaphysic of Morals that practicing cruelty toward animals produces cruelty toward humans. That was in 1785, and the same is still true, argues Jean Kazez in Animalkind.
Animalkind blends philosophy, history, spirituality and conjecture about our history with animals. Some of that history is utterly cruel and appalling, but some appears to be misrepresented.

 

For example, according to Kazez, the Blackfoot tribe hunted bison by "corralling them on the top of a cliff and then scaring them into throwing themselves, en masse, off the edge." This is a common but erroneous folk explanation of Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, near Fort Macleod, Alberta, and similar archaeological sites, where steep cliffs drop off suddenly along ancient bison migratory paths toward water sources.

 

For about 5,500 years before the Plains tribes had horses and could successfully follow bison herds, they lived near "buffalo jumps" and scavenged bison who fell to their deaths in stampedes toward the water. But either herding or corraling bison was well beyond their technology, and is difficult even with the technology of our time.

 

Kazez raises the religious aspect of animal suffering. If God is all-loving, why does animal suffering exist? Four hundred years after Rene Descartes theorized that animals are automatons incapable of suffering, some philosophers still argue for the Cartesian position, by now completely contrary to the findings of science. Agribusiness would like the public to believe that animals are immune to pain so they can continue factory farming without protest or objection. But animals do feel pain and do suffer.

 

The Bible has been used to rationalize slavery, discrimination against gays, and other aspects of the social order. Did the Bible say humans shall eat and dominate animals? That depends on how literally one interprets which translation of the book. Genesis 1:28 is often taken to mean, "Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Kazez, a vegetarian, considers whether that includes serving animals for lunch. Prophets including Isaiah believed animals were not to be eaten.
Animals had many philosopher friends both before and after Kant. Kazez cites Jeremy Bentham, who wrote about animals, "The question is not can they reason nor can they talk, but can they suffer?"

 

Kazez weaves in contemporary viewpoints from writers and scholars including Temple Grandin of Colorado State Univ-ersity, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, and Tom Regan, author of The Case for Animal Rights. Kazez wonders how we get past the cruelty involved in the manufacture of our dogs' food. So do I.
Kazez looks at the future. Humans have wiped out a number of species already. Others are on the endangered list, but that does not guarantee effective protection. In the developed world, affluent interests try to weaken protections. Elsewhere protective measures are often just ignored.

 

If global warming destroys vulnerable species' habitat, legally protecting the species may be academic anyhow. Few people see the connection between meat consumption and climate change. Convincing them it's not propaganda is nearly impossible.

 

Kazez says we will be torn over animal and human rights issues for years to come. Yes, we should become vegetarians. We should respect animals because they are sentient beings. But what about lab testing? Finding cures for diseases, including preventive measures, presents real dilemmas, Kazez finds. She admits that she does not have the answer to all of the relevant questions.
--Debra J. White

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Really Exotic Pets
by David Manning
HarperCollins Publishers (10 East 53rd St., New York, NY 10022), 2008.
192 pages, paperback. $19.95.

The Argentine horned frog is little more than a "stomach on legs," who tends to wolf down anything in its path, including body parts like fingers. Would you want this exotic animal as a pet? Obviously some people do, because David Manning features the Argentine horned frog in 50 Really Exotic Pets. Tips include feeding the horned frog dead foods, served on long tweezers.

 

50 Really Exotic Pets is a how-to guide on living with and caring for amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. Descriptive sections cover a wide variety of animals, such as the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) a long, narrow, and odd-looking amphibian native to Mexico. The axolotl has regenerative powers. Damaged limbs re-grow in about eight weeks. Axolotls are mischievous creatures and must be kept apart. Otherwise, they will eat each other. Endangered in the wild, axolotls are available as pets through captive breeding.

 

The green iguana, by contrast, is an extremely common tree-climbing lizard who "grazes on leaves, fruit and flowers in lush tropical habitats," according to Manning's description. Some Florida gardeners insist that feral green iguanas feast on anything they plant. Known in Florida for about 40 years, green iguanas are native to Central and South America. Their claws can "lacerate human flesh" so keep them trimmed. Mild-mannered iguanas can be walked like dogs, but most retain wild streaks.

 

The children's python is a snake, not really a suitable children's pet. This "secretive snake" inhabits northern Australia's coastal forests and inland deserts. They are sometimes kept as pets because of their modest size and congenial attitude. They prefer a diet of mice and rats. "A few small mice offered every 10-16 days or so should be sufficient," Manning says. Packaged frozen pre-killed pinky mice are now sold for snake-feeding. They should be thawed and slightly warmed before being given to the snake.

 

The Indian stick insect is "one of the easiest of all invertebrates to manage," Manning believes. If a predator threatens, bright red markings on the Indian stick insect's forelegs flash, while the insects themselves become motionless. When danger passes, they move around "gently swaying like a twig in the breeze." These delicate creatures need special handling. Their tight grip digs into human hands. Alternately, someone with a strong grip might squish them. Stick insects eat only plant matter.

 

The book continues with neat and tidy descriptions of rare and exotic pets such as the panther chameleon, the plumed basilisk and the curly-haired tarantula. The writing is concise and the pictures are colorful and clear.
The research seems thorough and comprehensive, but there is no mention of Manning's background. This is unfortunate, because quotes from reviews by a fictitious film critic named "David Manning," concocted by Sony marketing executive Matthew Cramer, became a major media scandal between 2000 and 2005. This David Manning is a herpetologist, with a background in the zoo and pet industries, and now runs Animal Ark, a Western Australia firm that "coordinates and advises film-makers and photographers and provides and handles animals for them," according to online advertisements.

 

Manning warns people who are interested in keeping exotic animals as pets to, "Find out if the species is legal or requires a permit or license." Communities have widely varying ordinances laws governing exotic pets. Many species are banned in particular places.

 

Manning neglects the shady side of the exotic pet trade. Exotic species are often illegally caught from the wild, and kept in conditions as deplorable as those of puppy-mills --or worse. A December 15, 2009 raid on the pet wholesaler U.S. Global Exotics, of Arlington, Texas, found 27,000 exotic animals suffering from neglect. Owners Jasen and Vanessa Shaw now face criminal charges.

 

Manning also neglects the obvious ethical questions. If an iguana thrives in the jungle, why should we remove it to live in a Manhattan high rise? If the children's python is native to Northern Australia, shouldn't we leave it there?

 

Although Manning painstakingly details the artificial environment each creature needs, it is in each case far removed from the animal's original home. Snakes, bearded dragons, tarantulas and lizards live just fine without human intervention. Admittedly urban sprawl, growing human populations, war, pollution, and global warming encroach upon animal habitats, but is there really an ethical place for exotic animals as household pets?
--Debra J. White

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Kinship & Killing:
The Animal in World Religions
by Katherine Wills Perlo
Columbia University Press (61 West 62nd St., New York,
NY 10023), 2009. 256 pages, paperback. $27.50.

Kinship & Killing: The Animal in World Religions is unfortunately more learned than readable, cutting back and forth among the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and scholarly commentaries with what might be dizzying speed if the connecting passages were not plodding academic jargon. Hinduism is mentioned in passing, but not discussed in depth, for reasons not very clear.

 

Author Katherine Wills Perlo, says the back cover, "proves that our relationship with animals shapes religious doctrine, particularly through the tension between animal exploitation and the bonds of kinship. She pinpoints four different strategies for coping with this conflict.

 

"The first is aggression, in which a divinely conferred superiority or karma justifies animal usage. The second is evasion, which emphasizes benevolent aspects of the human/animal relationship within the exploitative structure. The third is defense, which acknowledges the problematic nature of killing, leading many religions to adopt a propitiation mechanism, such as apologizing for sacrifice. The fourth is effective-defensive, which recognizes animal abuse as inherently unethical."

 

But the 228 pages inside are more an exercise in counting angels dancing on the head of a pin than useful illumination of the central question. In truth, all four of the coping strategies that Perlo outlines are so thoroughly intertwined and mutually supportive as to constitute the strands of a single thread, stretching back into the earliest written religious texts. Tenuously teasing them apart does not really accomplish very much.

 

The problem remains: did religion ever really have any other purpose than rationalizing human use and abuse of others, whether animals, slaves, or other occupants of coveted land? Were pro-animal prophets such as Isaiah, Mahavira, the Buddha, and Mohammed actually representative in any way of the religious traditions from which they came, and into which their teachings are subsumed? Or, were they the dissident voices they appeared to be in their own times, whose attempts to "reform" religion were really attempts to reinvent it?

 

As the back cover again summarizes more succinctly than the book itself, "As humans feel more empathy toward animals, Perlo finds that adherents revise their interpretations of religious texts."
Indeed, every cause revises readings of religious texts to try to advance itself. But does this really mean that religion is evolving, as Perlo seems to believe, or just that new uses are transiently made of old tools?

 

History has amply demonstrated that the faithful are ever ready and willing to pervert and ignore the teachings of any prophet who teaches against the popular rationales for animal and human exploitation. Perlo describes several of the ways in which this is done, but so have many of the pro-animal prophets themselves, to little avail in persuading those who were unwilling to be persuaded, if becoming persuaded meant giving up meat.
--Merritt Clifton

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Arachnids by Jan Beccaloni
Univ. of Calif. Press (2120 Berkeley Way, Berkeley,
CA 94704), 2009. 320 pages, hardcover. $39.95.

The spider on the cover of Arachnids scared me. I didn't think I could get through a book containing 176 color photos and 24 drawings of creepy creatures. I turned the pages, however, and learned something.

 

"Spiders aren't the only arachnids," reminds Beccaloni. Ticks and mites are arachnids too. Spiders are the most common arachnids, with about 40,000 types, but there are also scorpions and tick beetles. Descended from trilobites, like insects and crustaceans, arachnids are older than dinosaurs, first appearing about 440 million years ago. They are not insects; they have no wings. They usually have twelve eyes. Yet vision is among their minor senses. Mostly nocturnal, they rely mostly on touch and taste to find food.

 

Arachnids live primarily in warm, humid environments such as rainforests. Other frequent habitats are caves, deserts, and inside gardens. Nearly all arachnids are predators. Methods they use to obtain food include theft, ambush, and in the case of spiders, building nets to capture bugs.

 

A clad is a group of species sharing a common ancestor. There are more than 900 Theraph-osidae spiders in the Mygalomorph clad. The best known is the tarantula, also called a bird-eating spider in Asia and a baboon spider in Africa. Tarantulas mostly live in underground burrows. Large and hairy, tarantulas were named after Taranto, Italy, which became notorious in the Middle Ages as home of allegedly venomous wolf spiders whose bite was said to cause insanity. Wolf spiders, however, though also called tarantulas, are not part of the tarantula family.

 

A full page color photo on page 37 of the Brazilian wandering spider, Phoneu-turia, made my skin crawl. This large gray spider has long legs known as palps and sharp chelicerae (appendages near the mouth) that look as if they could scarf down a small dog or cat. Phoneuturia is among South America's most poisonous spiders. Run if you see one.

 

There are 108 species of whip scorpions or vinegaroons (Uropgyi) and all look terrifying. Their armored palps give the impression they are ready for battle. Their whip-like tails can thrash predators, hence their name. When threatened, they emit a spray so disgusting you want to choke. They are also known as vinegaroons because their spray contains acetic acid. Whip scorpions eat frogs, toads, worms, and slugs. Four families of this species live in Southeast Asia. Others inhabit the southeastern U.S. and South America, favoring hot tropical climates. Except in weather wet enough to saturate the ground, whip scorpions also live in burrows or under rocks.

 

Mites are diverse and are the smallest family of arachnids. Ticks and mites belong to the Acari family, with seven orders and over 45,000 species. Most mites have no eyes. They can be found in decomposing matter, on plants, in marine habitats, and inside animals. Ear mites cause problems for dogs and cats. Mites can also live inside bat anuses, owl lungs, and seals' nasal passages.

 

In humans mites cause typhus, scabies and asthma. The dust mite is particularly aggravating to humans. A common allergen, dust mites live in carpets, furniture and mattresses. Dust mites can live inside clothing too. If you move, they hitch a ride and move with you, unless you carefully clean every part of your home and furnishings. Some mites attack plants. Mites have destroyed entire citrus crops, and have caused major economic losses to farmers around the world.

 

Ticks, on the other hand, are ecoparasitic mites that feed only on their host's blood. They transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, tick fever, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever that afflict both humans and animals.
Ticks do well in steamy climates, but can survive in cold habitat too. Once a tick attaches itself to a host, it typically remains for a long time. Resistant to starvation, ticks can lay thousands of eggs. If you have pets and live in an area prone to ticks, seriously consider tick prevention methods.

 

Arachnids fascinated me. Arachnids themselves still unnerve me, but the pictures in the book Arachnids are stunning, and the descriptions of the twelve categories of arachnids and their anatomy, circulatory systems, venom glands and habitat are descriptive, informative, and easy to follow.
--Debra J. White

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Egyptian federation reconstituted

CAIRO--One bitter dispute over control of the Egyptian Federation for Animal Welfare appeared to end and others recommence on March 23, 2010 with the judicial reversal of a June 2009 edict by the Egyptian Directorate of Social Affairs that EFAW would be chaired by appointee Shihab-Eldin Abdel-Hamid Abdel-Rahman, who was empowered to organize the election of a new board.

 

"The original board are now reinstated, and any decision taken by the now illegal board are invalid and will be open to criminal charges," e-mailed attorney and Egyptian Society of Animal Friends president Ahmed El Sherbiny.

 

Behind the leadership dispute were differences of opinion among the EFAW member organizations about how Cairo animal control should be restructured to replace the traditional practice of poisoning street dogs and feral cats upon receipt of complaints. These differences remain unresolved. Also unresolved is continuing conflict between representatives of humane societies and representatives of animal use industries, who were also given seats on the EFAW board.

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Wolves kill teacher in Alaska, boosting anti-wolf policy

CHIGNIK LAKE, Alaska-- Wolves on March 8, 2010 killed and partially ate special education teacher Candace Berner, 32, a 4'11" weightlifter and boxer who was on a solo training run in preparation to compete in a marathon.

 

Originally from Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, Berner had been in Alaska for only six months. Her cause of death was documented by 150 feet of tracks and blood showing her struggle with the wolves. Alaska Department of Fish & Game staff shot the two wolves believed to have attacked Berner.

 

Berner was the first human fatality from a wild wolf attack in the U.S. since 1910, when a man named James Smith shot five wolves near Waterloo, Iowa, but was overpowered by the rest of the pack while reloading his gun. Thirty-two years had passed since wolves killed two men near New Rockford, North Dakota, and nearly 80 years since 14 fatal attacks occurred within three years in Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Ohio, 13 of them attributed to just one rabid wolf.

 

The only documented victim in Canada since the 19th century was Kenton Joel Carnegie, 22, a surveyor who was killed and partially eaten near Prince Albert, Saskatch-ewan in November 2005.
Berner's death helped to give political cover to Alaska governor Sean Parnell, who is serving the balance of former governor Sarah Palin's term, and Alaska Fish & Game Commissioner Denby Lloyd.
Parnell in February 2010 nominated Fairbanks trapper Allen Barrette, 44, to the Alaska Board of Game. Barrette owns a fur tannery and a business that sells traps. His appointment was vetoed by the Alaska Legislature on April 9, 31-27.

 

Lloyd, three days lafter Berner was killed, replaced Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation director Doug Larson with Corey Rossi, a friend of Sarah Palin.
Lloyd, a Palin appointee, in January 2009 created the post of "assistant commissioner for abundance management and hired Rossi to fill it. Rossi prevously spent 20 years with the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service.

 

Thirty-nine retired Alaska Depart-ment of Fish & Game biologists and supervisors co-signed a letter protesting Rossi's appointment. "We are concerned that this high-profile leadership change is a signal that professional management will be replaced by a simplistic abundance management model where maximum production of wild game meat is the state of Alaska's single, overriding objective," the co-signers declared.

 

Within a week of Rossi's promotion, Alaska Department of Fish & Game helicopter gunners exterminated the four-member Webber Creek wolf pack near the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, despite seeing that two of the wolves had been radio-collared as part of a federal study. The department hoped to kill 185 wolves by April 30, but was 70 short of quota and was having difficulty tracking wolves to shoot due to a lack of fresh snow. The department claimed to have killed the Webber Creek pack due to a misunderstanding over interagency protocol and confusion over the collars' radio frequencies.

 

The National Park Service a week later held hearings on a proposal to prohibit state officials from killing black bear cubs and sow bears with cubs in their dens. The Alaska Board of Game authorized the den killing in November 2008.

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Toronto Humane Society back in shelter

TORONTO--The Ontario SPCA returned management of the Toronto Humane Society to THS on April 1, 2010, under an agreement ratified by Superior Court Justice David Brown, but the THS shelter is to remain closed for six weeks, from April 12 to June 1, while the building is cleaned and the staff are retrained.

 

THS was given the first 12 days of April to find homes for about 200 animals remaining at the shelter. Any animals not placed by April 12 were to be surrendered to the Ontario SPCA.

 

The 13 present THS board members are to resign before a May 30 board election. Tim Trow, THS president since November 2001, resigned on January 26, 2010. Trow and seven other THS personnel are facing charges including conspiracy and neglect of animals. The Ontario SPCA began charging THS key personnel after raiding THS--for the second time in five months--in November 2009.

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

No new shelter for St. Louis

ST. LOUIS--Losing patience with seven years of faltering efforts to raise funds to build a new city pound, St. Louis mayor Francis Slay in March 2010 ordered the closure by summer of the current pound, built in 1941, and directed the city health department to find an outside pound contractor.

 

Plans were afoot in 1995-1996 for St. Louis animal control to take over a shelter built by the Humane Society of Missouri in 1965 and expanded in 1981, after the humane society completed an $11 million new shelter across the street. The new Humane Society of Missouri shelter opened in 1998, but by then the city had lost interest in the old facilities.

 

Former St. Louis Board of Aldermen president Jim Shrewsbury in 2002 created a municipal fund supported by public donations that by March 2010 had raised just $245,000, according to Jake Wagman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

 

Shrewsbury also formed the Animal House Fund, a nonprofit umbrella for fundraising to build a new shelter. Headed since 2005 by former Humane Society of Missouri board chair Ed Throop, 60, the Animal House Fund raised $265,447 in Throop's first year, but lost $42,000 in 2006, lost $14,000 in 2007, and lost $65,000 in 2008.
"Animal House has raised more than $600,000 since 2004," wrote Wagman, "but at the end of 2008 had only $107,870 in the bank--far short of its $4 million goal."

 

"The big donations we were getting were in the form of pledges," Animal House Fund board member Kate Ewing told Wagman. "That's not actually like a pile of cash."
Throop told Wagman that he had personally pledged $500,000 to the new shelter project, and that other donors had also made significant pledges

 

The three most recent Animal House filings of IRS Form 990 showed no program spending.

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Record dog attack liability settlement raises stakes for shelters

PHILADELPHIA, INDIANAPOLIS--The known economic risk to third parties in non-fatal dog attack liability cases soared to $1.9 million on March 5, 2010 when Rottweiler attack plaintiffs Evelyn and Larry Shickram accepted a $1.6 million settlement offer from Boss Pet Products.

 

"Schickram v. Boss Pet Products was in the middle of jury selection in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court when the plaintiffs settled," wrote Legal Intelligencer senior staff reporter Gina Passarella. "The Schickrams had previously settled with the dog owner, Pamela Leader, for $300,000--the policy limits of her homeowners' insurance."

 

The total settlement and the amount paid by a third party appeared to be the highest yet disclosed in a nonfatal dog attack. However, few such settlements are made public.
Summarized Passarella, "Evelyn and Larry Schickram were driving to a home inspection prior to the purchase of a house in June 2006. When Evelyn got out of the car, a 118-pound Rottweiler who allegedly broke free from a dog tie-out cable in the next-door neighbor's yard attacked her."

 

"After settling with the homeowner, who immediately after the attack turned the dog over to be put down, Schickram sued tether cord distributor Boss Pet Products, seller PetSmart, and the manufacturer, Shanghai Kington Trading Co. PetSmart had an indemnification agreement with Boss, so they shared representation," Passarella wrote.

 

Evelyn Schickram suffered permanent injuries to both arms, including chronic pain and loss of ability to lift heavy objects. However, unlike many victims of severe dog attacks, she was not facially disfigured. The highest previous known dog attack liability awards involved facial disfigurement. The size of the Schickram settlement implies that settlements for facial disfigurement may now run higher, though limited by the ability of the defendants to pay.

 

The case has implications for animal shelters and rescues because in adopting out dogs they are in a position similar to that of Boss Pet Products. In legal definition, adopting out a dog and selling a tie-out cable both carry the same implication that the "product," dog or cable, will be safe in normal situations, including predictable times of elevated stress, such as the arrival of a stranger.

 

Much as animal shelters and rescues try to protect themselves with behavioral screening and liability waivers signed by adopters, Boss Pet Products tried to protect itself with warnings printed on the tie-cable packaging that spelled out the limitations of safe use, and even stated that tie-out cables are not to be used to restrain "mean or vicious" dogs.

 

"According to their pretrial memorandum," wrote Passarella, "Boss Pet Products and PetSmart argued that upon purchase Pamela Leader tied the cord around a tree and left it there for a year, exposed to the elements. They said the cable was visibly worn and rusted in various locations and Leader should have stopped using it, according to the court papers."

 

In the end, however, Boss Pet Products and PetSmart accepted $1.6 million worth of liability for the attack--$700,000 more than their best previous offer, according to their attorney, Thomas F. Sacchetta.
The numbers of known dog attack death and disfigurement cases involving dogs in custody of shelters and rescues, or recently rehomed, soared from just two in the 20 years previous to 2000, to 10 in 2009 alone. Twenty of the 31 known cases since 2000 involved pit bull terriers. Three cases resulted in fatalities, 14 cases involved facial disfigurement, and two cases involved arm injuries similar to Evelyn Schickham's.

 

Shelter dog attacks in Indiana

Two of the first shelter dog attack cases in 2010 occurred in Indianapolis and suburbs. Indianapolis council member Mike Speedy in mid-2009 sought unsuccessfully to introduce a bylaw similar to one in effect in San Francisco since 2007 which requires that pit bulls must be sterilized. San Francisco animal care and control director Rebecca Katz credits the ordinance with effecting a 30% drop in the numbers of pit bulls killed by her department due to dangerous behavior.

 

Humane Society of Indianapolis director John Aleshire prominently opposed the Speedy bylaw. On January 8, 2010 the Humane Society of Indianapolis adopted out a pit bull who had cleared behavioral screening to Marion County Sheriff's Deputy Shawn Middleton, 25, who already had another pit bull. On January 12 a neighbor called 911 to report dangerous behavior by Middleton's dogs. On March 4 the dogs escaped and mauled James Bates, 23. The dogs chased Bates' mother, Queen Bates, 71, when she tried to stop the attack.

 

"Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer Marlon Minor shot both dogs, killing one, when they went after him as he tried to help Bates," reported John Tuohy of the Indianapolis Star. The wounded dog was later euthanized.

 

"Middleton was cited for owner responsibility for animal attack, having animals at large, having no rabies vaccination for one of the dogs, and having no permanent identification for the dogs," said Tuohy.
"On March 16," reported Melanie D. Hayes of the Indianapolis Star, "Zachary Handzel, 6, of Noblesville, was visiting the Hamilton County Humane Society with his aunt when he opened the door to a visitation room and was attacked by a pit bull, according to the incident report, said the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Vicky Dunbar. The dog had been secluded in the visitation room because he had been medicated for a pinched nerve, Dunbar said. The windows were covered with paper, and signs warned people that the room was a restricted area, but the doors were not locked, Dunbar said. Handzel suffered injuries to his face, hand, wrist, ankle, and foot. "Ironically," Hayes noted, "March is Pit Bull Education month" at the shelter.

 

"We certainly didn't anticipate a six-year old to read 'do not enter' signs; however, his guardian should have," Hamilton County Humane Society board president Joe Ridenour e-mailed to Speedy. "The facility is filled with stressed out dogs and cats who can be unpredictable, regardless of breed. For this reason, we require that all children be supervised during visitation. We have that information posted before entering our building and again when entering the kennels."

 

ANIMAL PEOPLE asked Ridenour why no staff or trained volunteers accompanied Handzel and his aunt. "Neither the Humane Society of Indianapolis nor Indianapolis Animal Care and Control escort every patron seeking to adopt a pet. None in central Indiana" require that all visitors be escorted, Ridenour responded.
Surveying 21 shelter directors and other senior personnel around the U.S., whose experience covers more than 50 shelters, ANIMAL PEOPLE learned that 48% of the shelters they have worked at do not allow any unescorted public access to animal holding areas; 52% do not allow children to be unescorted. 29% allow unescorted access, by either children or adults, to areas where animals are offered for adoption. Only 14% allow children to have unescorted access to other areas.

 

A visitation room is usually adjacent to areas where animals are offered for adoption, and is usually considered an adoption area.

 

The shelters that do not allow unescorted public access to animal holding areas included several of the leading adoption shelters in the world, while several that allow unescorted access have low adoption rates. Explanation: the escorts help to promote successful adoptions.

 

"I know there is a growing movement to open up animal areas to the public so that any animal may have a chance to be seen and adopted," offered Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County, in Hagersville, Maryland. But Miller disagrees with the practice, summarizing comments offered by many other survey respondents.

 

"We have had individuals take cell phone pictures of dogs in our adoption kennels and then two days later claim to have found their missing dog," Miller said. "At other facilities that have opened up all their animal areas, I have heard that the public seems to be drawn to those animals not yet in adoption," who are perceived as being most in need of rescue. "If an animal is reclaimed, or fails to pass assessments, then the 'wanter' will sometimes react negatively," Miller said.

 

The adoption risk issue meanwhile expanded to Britain when facially disfigured pit bull attack victim Patrick Hamnett, 47, told media he would sue College Garth Rescue Kennels in Hathern. Hamnett was attacked on March 18, 2010 while feeding a Staffordshire bull terrier whom the Hamnett family had adopted just half an hour before.

 

"The matter has been passed to our insurers," said College Garth Rescue Kennels director John Barker.

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

U.S. backs deal to let Japan legally kill whales in the Southern Oceans

WASHINGTON D.C.--Japan is likely to be authorized to engage in commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and coastal waters, and Norway and Iceland are likely to be allowed to continue commercial whaling, now with International Whaling Commission approval, at the 2010 IWC meeting in Agadir, Morocco, to be held June 21-25.

 

Japan has engaged in "research" whaling at commercial levels throughout the global whaling moratorium declared by the IWC in 1982, and has killed whales within the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary ever since the sanctuary was designated in 1994. The IWC has not previously addressed Japanese coastal whaling, which mostly kills species smaller than those regulated by the IWC. Norway has killed minke whales in coastal waters since 1993. Iceland has wobbled between authorizing and prohibiting whaling.

 

The 88-nation IWC is expected to condone Japanese, Norwegian, and Icelandic whaling as part of a "compromise" that would attempt to lower their whaling quotas, place observers on whaling vessels, and keep other nations from resuming whaling.

 

A published draft proposal from the IWC Small Working Group is due to be formalized on April 22.
The draft proposal mostly follows the recommendations of a "Whale Sympos-ium" held by the Pew Charitable Trusts in February 2008. The symposium concluded that "the most promising compromise" to end conflict with Japan over the 24-year-old IWC moratorium on commercial whaling "would recognize potentially legitimate claims by coastal whaling communities; suspend scientific whaling in its current form and respect sanctuaries," omitted from the Small Working Group draft proposal; and "define a finite number of whales that can be taken by all of the world's nations." The Pew recommendations were pushed by former U.S. IWC commissioner William Hogarth, who retired after chairing the 2009 IWC meeting.

 

"Allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable," declared U.S. President Barack Obama in March 2009, but in March 2010 Obama appointed former Pew Institute director of whale conservation Monica Medine to succeed Hogarth.

 

Explained Michael McCarthy, environment editor for The Independent, "U.S. officials have been strongly backing the proposal. This is thought to be in part because of a specific problem--the subsistence whaling quotas for indigenous Inuit peoples in Alaska, which the U.S. is obliged to seek from the IWC every few years. In 2002, in return for American hostility to its 'scientific' whaling, Japan blocked the quota, causing the U.S. considerable embarrassment before the Japanese backed down. The next quota request is due in 2012. Some observers think the U.S. wants to make sure it is on terms with Japan so the quota will not be blocked again. Another surprise supporter of the proposal is New Zealand," McCarthy said, "although Australia is strongly opposed to the plan."
Wrote Christian Dippel in the March 4, 2010 edition of Foreign Policy, "If the IWC follows the Small Working

 

Group recommendation, it would be a major victory for the whaling nations--thanks in no small part to the work Japan has put into cultivating allies in the commission. Countries that have joined the IWC recently and voted with Japan have been more likely to see increases in Japanese bilateral aid receipts," Dippel noted. "For instance, Antigua & Barbuda and St. Kitts & Nevis, both of which were in the Small Working Group, have received around $40 more in per capita aid from Japan since joining the IWC." Dippel found that "IWC membership is an even more powerful predictor of decreases in British aid receipts and combined aid receipts from France, Germany, and the U.S.," but observed that "Foreign aid can be divided into loans that need to be paid back and grants that do not. Japanese foreign aid increases are almost entirely in grant form, which developing countries prefer."

 

The IWC Small Working Group proposal was denounced by BlueVoice, Green-peace, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society, among other longtime opponents of whaling.

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Julie Bank to head NYC animal control

The American SPCA and Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals on March 31, 2010 jointlyannounced and welcomed the hiring of former ASPCA director of shelter operations and humane education outreach Julie Bank to head the New York City Center for Animal Care & Control, starting April 12. After 10 years with the ASPCA, Bank served as director of education and therapeutic programs for the Arizona Humane Society, deputy director of Maricopa County Animal Care & Control , and executive director of the North County Humane Society & SPCA in Oceanside, California. The latter recently merged with the San Diego Humane Society.

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

AHA transitions

The American Humane Association was still operating short-handed at the beginning of April 2010. Six-year president Marie Belew Wheatley resigned on January 8, 2010, succeeded on an interim basis by past board member George C. Casey. Four animal protection division staff were laid off, including the shelter services manager and training manager. All four positions remained unfilled.

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Founder Buckley ousted from Elephant Sanctuary

HOHENWALD, Tennessee--Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee cofounder Carol Buckley, ousted from the organization on March 17, 2010, in early April announced the formation of a new nonprofit umbrella for her work called International Elephant Aid.

 

"Over the next year I will travel internationally seeking projects and problems, brainstorming with others involved in elephant welfare and assisting those in need," Buckley posted to her personal web site. "My goal is to be a resource, bringing to the table all that my work has taught me over these past 36 years. Providing sanctuary is a worldwide need, and now I plan to make it a reality."

 

As a start, Buckley said. "I will be searching for opportunities to learn about elephant and mahout life in Nepal, India, and Thailand. With elephants being banned from zoos in India and mahouts forbidden from bringing elephants into Bangkok to beg," Buckley explained, "I am excited about the possibilities of creating sanctuaries where wild-born, captivity-raised elephants can once again be returned to a semi-wild environment.

 

My work has demonstrated that given sanctuary, elephants naturally form lifelong bonds. Even unrelated herd members form relationships reminiscent of the family dynamics of their wild counterparts."
Buckley did not respond to inquiries from ANIMAL PEOPLE and the Nashville Tennessean.

 

Buckley began her work with elephants in 1974, as caretaker for a baby elephant named Tarra who was imported from Burma by a southern California tire dealer as a promotional stunt just before the Endangered Species Act halted elephant imports by private parties.

 

Eventually Buckley bought Tarra and performed with her in circuses until circa 1980, but retired from performing after coming to realize that circus life is not natural for elephants.

 

Buckley, 55, and Scott Blais, 38, opened the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee in 1995. It was more spacious, then, than all other sanctuaries for captive elephants combined. The only comparable sanctuary today, the Performing Animal Welfare Society's Ark 2000, debuted five years later.

 

The beginning of the end for Buckley at the Elephant Sanctuary came soon after acting chief executive officer Mary Baker joined the staff in November 2009. The Elephant Sanctuary web site describes Baker as a "strategic consultant with more than 20 years experience consulting with not-for-profit and for-profit organizations."
"On November 21, 2009," Buckley posted, "I was placed on an involuntary leave of absence. I was told by the board that some staff had complained that they felt intimidated by my management style. I was instructed not to speak to staff, media, or donors. On January 19, 2010, I was removed as CEO, president, and board member.

 

"I was offered employment as director of global outreach," Buckley said, which would have allowed Buckley to do work similar to the mission Buckley projects for Internatonal Elephant Aid, but Buckley objected that this would have removed her from the Elephant Sanctuary, including her home on the grounds; would have kept her from contact with the elephants, including Tarra, and would have restricted her "from doing any elephant welfare work in the United States," she added.

 

Baker fired Buckley on March 17, 2010. Blais posted a message of support for the decision to the Elephant Sanctuary web site, but the sanctuary did not offer any explanation for ousting Buckley.

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Yonkers SPCA disolved by NY attorney general

YONKERS, N.Y.--New York state attorney general Andrew Cuomo on March 9, 2010 won a court order disbanding the Yonkers SPCA.

 

"The court ordered all Yonkers SPCA members to surrender their weapons, badges, and identification cards, and to forward any assets to a legitimate organization that prevents animal abuse," reported New York Daily News staff writer Helen Kennedy.

 

Founded in 1912, the Yonkers SPCA in 1955 transferred operations and assets to the Westchester SPCA and disbanded. In 2007, however, former Greenburgh police officer Sean Collins, 43, revived the organization--on paper and at a web site.

 

"Under New York law," explained Associated Press writer David B. Caruso, "animal protection societies are given the power to appoint peace officers," who if registered with the state Department of Criminal Justice Services, "may carry concealed weapons without going through the normal licensing process, use deadly physical force when making an arrest, seize weapons, and conduct searches."

 

The Yonkers SPCA appointed 16 peace officers, none of whom are known to have conducted any activities on behalf of animals. Among them," noted Kennedy of the Daily News, was another former Greenburgh police officer, Erik Ward, who was fired for misconduct in February 2007, after dominatrix Gina Pane testifed several months earlier that he offered to help her with a marijuana conviction if she would defecate on him.

 

John Mahoney, former president and attorney for the revived Yonkers SPCA, claimed that the intent of reviving it was to infiltrate dogfighting gangs. That was not done, but in 2008 some of the members reprimanded another, Robert Castro, for allegedly recklessly brandishing his firearm while intoxicated.
"Castro and his friends were kicked out of the group, tensions rose and members started bringing guns to board meetings," Kennedy of the Daily News summarized. After then-president Joe Rosco resigned, along with several board members, Castro became chief of the short-lived Yonkers SPCA Humane Law Enforcement Unit.
Cuomo filed to disband the Yonkers SPCA on July 1, 2009, after Rosco complained to the New York attorney general's office that the organization appeared to exist just to provide members with a pretext for carrying weapons.

 

The New York Post revealed in 1993 that nine American SPCA board members including then-president Roger Caras had improperly designated themselves humane officers, under the same law that the Yonkers SPCA used, in order to pack pistols without permits--despite a warning from independent counsel Madeleine Bernstein that this could jeopardize the ASPCA's law enforcement privileges. The board members subsequently surrendered humane officer status. Bernstein has since 1994 headed the Los Angeles SPCA.

 

Similar scandals exposed in California and Pennsylvania during the mid-1990s led to reinforced state standards for designating humane officers.

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Attorney general investigates Connecticut Humane; 20-year president resigns

HARTFORD--Investigating the management of the Connecticut Humane Society since January 2010, Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal on March 30, 2010 released preliminary findings that were highly critical of how the society was managed during the 20-year tenure of former Connect-icut Humane president Richard Johnston, who resigned on March 23.

 

But Blumenthal did not find evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

 

"The investigation has focused primarily on Connecticut Humane's alleged misuse of charitable funds, but touches on several other issues," Blumenthal's office said in a prepared statement. "The investigation continues, particularly with respect to the handling of charitable funds and allegations of improper treatment of animals," the statement added.

 

Stamford Advocate assistant city editor Angela Carella recalled that "Johnston came under fire when he closed the 78-year-old Stamford shelter in 1998. Saying the shelter did not handle enough animals, Johnston sold the site to a housing developer. Condominiums there now sell for $800,000 to $1 million apiece."

 

But Blumenthal found "no evidence that anyone connected with Connecticut Humane received any compensation in connection with the sale of the society's Stamford property." Blumenthal also found no evidence that Johnston, a real estate attorney, made any other improper use of society real estate.

 

Blumenthal found that "For the years 2005, 2006, and 2007, related party transactions," as legally defined, "made up between 3.3% and 5.2% of the Connecticut Humane Society's budget expenses," or from $175,000 to $258,000 per year. Persons involved in related party transactions recused themselves from voting, when they came before the board, and "the accounting firm of Blum-Shapiro stated that for the related party transactions "the amount charged is reasonable and was less than or equal to fair market value," Blumenthal summarized.
"Nevertheless," Blumenthal suggested, "the frequency and amount of related party transactions threatens the integrity and reputation of the Connecticut Humane Society, and underscores the need to strengthen conflict of interest protocols."

 

Blumenthal found that the Connecticut Humane Society "has designated more than $46 million of its unrestricted fund balance of $52 million as belonging to a board-designated quasi-endowment fund," and that the board "adopted a policy to add legacy, estate, and other non-recurring gifts and/or income" to the quasi-endowment fund.

 

The spending restrictions creating the fund, "which now apply to fully 88% of the society's total unrestricted net assets and about 67% of the society's total net assets, appear to be excessive, and threatens to deprive the society of resources to adequately conduct its core animal care and protection functions," Blumenthal wrote.
The Connecticut attorney general's office "has received numerous and, in some instances, credible complaints describing a pervasively dysfunctional culture and serious acts of managerial misconduct," Blumenthal said. "Many of these reports involve Richard Johnston, who served as both the president of Connecticut Humane and as the chair of its board of directors. This arrangement unnecessarily concentrated authority and control of Connecticut Humane in one person."

 

In addition, Blumenthal wrote, his office had received written allegations that Johnston "unfairly fired and placed on probation individuals who participated in unionization. These allegations will be referred to the National Labor Relations Board," which has the relevant legal jurisdiction.

 

The Blumenthal report was released about a month after the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration fined the Connecticut Humane Society $6,800 for failing to correct 10 workplace safety violations.

 

Wrote Carella of the Stamford Advocate, "Johnston understaffed the shelters, failed to promote the services offered by the society, underpaid and undertrained employees, destroyed too many animals and did little to find them homes, critics said."

 

In fact, the Connecticut Humane Society had the lowest rate of shelter killing during Johnston's tenure of any major U.S. humane society that was not explicitly no-kill, and the entire state of Connecticut has had the lowest rate of shelter killing of any U.S. state. This is in part because many Connecticut animal control agencies do not pick up cats, and also in part because other Connecticut humane organizations developed several of the first and largest feral cat neuter/return programs in the U.S. In addition, Connecticut rescue groups were the first in the U.S. to make extensive use of web sites to rehome animals.

 

However, Johnston kept a pledge he made upon becoming president to reduce shelter killing, and appears also to have kept a pledge to avoid investments in companies that do substantial amounts of animal testing when alternatives are available.

 

Johnston became president of Connecticut Humane, after four years of board service, after publication of similar criticisms of his predecessor, Gus Hellberg. Hellberg, whose background was in juvenile law enforcement, had presided over the transition of Connecticut Humane to providing only animal services and humane education, after providing both animal and child protection services since 1881. Connecticut Humane also phased out most humane law enforcement work toward the end of of Hellberg's tenure.

 

New Connecticut Humane board president Christopher White told media that selecting a new chief executive would probably take four to six months.


patriceG <ppg27@comcast.net>

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Swiss voters reject special prosecutors for animal cases

GENEVA--Approximately 70% of the Swiss electorate on March 7, 2010 rejected a referendum proposal by Swiss Animal Protection to require each canton to designate a public prosecutor to handle animal cruelty cases--exactly opposite to the outcome that opinion polls reportedly predicted.

 

The chances of the proposal passing appeared to be harmed when the first designated prosecutor of animal cases, Antoine F. Goetschel of Zurich, brought a cruelty charge against an angler who took 10 minutes to land a pike in February 2010.

 

Swiss Animal Protection collected 140,000 signatures to place the proposal on the ballot. Swiss Animal Protection director Hansueli Huber told Associated Press writer Eliane Engeler that cruelty case reports in Switzerland increased by 20% from 2007 to 2008.

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

ACRES wins wildlife center pollution case

SINGAPORE--The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society on March 24, 2010 won an order from Singapore High Court Justice Kan Ting Chiu that ANA Contractor Ltd. must pay damages for building most of the ACRES wildlife rehabilitation center on a footing of woodchips contaminated with toxic materials believed to be residue from sandblasting.

 

ANA Ltd. subcontracted the job of filling and leveling the site in Choa Chu Kang to another firm, Lok Sheng Enterprises. "Shortly after the land was filled, the area was plagued by a foul stench and brackish water started to seep through the surface," recounted K.C. Vijayan of Straits Times. Toxic leachate also polluted the nearby Kranji Reservoir, and appeared to menace a commercial fish farm.

 

"I cried," admitted ACRES executive director Louis Ng to Esther Ng of Today. "It meant demolishing the kitchen, primate sanctuary, turtle sanctuary, and all the cages that were built-to-order. They were welded to structures and could not be salvaged."

 

Already delayed for six months by financial problems, the scheduled ACRES wildlife rehabilitation center opening in October 2007 was indefinitely postponed. A reptile quarantine station that can house about 50 animals at a time and a humane education center are now operating, and hosted tours by Asia for Animals conference delegates in January 2010.

 

ANA Ltd. also faces 33 criminal charges in connection with the case.

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Fire hits Animal Friends League of Kuwait

WAFRA, Kuwait--Electrical fires on March 12 and March 24, 2010 razed most of the Animal Friends League of Kuwait shelter complex. The facilities, featured in a presentation on shelter design at the first Middle East Network for Animal Welfare conference in 2007, were widely praised as the best in the Middle East.

 

The first fire destroyed the residential quarters and all personal possessions of four live-in staff members. The second fire killed eight dogs and 31 cats, and badly injured others, some of whom died later.

 

"Investigations have shown that the fires were caused by surges of electricity from the main lines," e-mailed founder Ayeshah Waleed Al Humaidhi. "After the first fire, an inspection of the shelter elecrical system was conducted and smoke detectors and fire extinguishers were purchased and donated.

 

"Despite these precautions," Al Humaidhi said, "a massive surge occurred to the now weakened main electrical lines. All staff were sleeping nearby when the fire started. The fire was not discovered until aerosol cans near the source of the fire began to explode. Our shelter staff acted heroically to save as many animals as possible, and the fire rescue team also showed great courage as they entered the building to release dogs while the fire was still burning," The Kuwait Royal Animal Hospital hosted fostering sessions that found temporary quarters for at least 47 of the 62 dogs, cats, and rabbits who survived the fires without serious injury. The Washington Animal Rescue League took 20 dogs for U.S. adoption. Ten volunteers from a local agility club spent a week helping with the animals.

 

"Men have turned up with a tool box and shovel asking how they can help," Al Humaidhi said. "The show of support has brought tears to our eyes at times."

 

But the biggest need ahead will be resources for rebuilding. "We have been able to save many of the interior doors and fittings," Al Humaidhi reported. "Volunteers have demolished the ceiling, removed all doors and windows, including frames, and have removed, washed and stored most loose items" that could be salvaged.

 

"Repairs of the steel structure of the building have already started," Al Humaidhi added, 10 days after the second fire.

 

[Contact: Animal Friends League of Kuwait, 333 Goose Pond Road, Lyme, NH 03768; <ayeshah_a22@yahoo.com>; <www.animalfriendskuwait.org>.]

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

CITES protects elephants but not sharks & polar bears

DOHA, Qatar--Leading a last-minute rally to keep ivory billiard balls out of fashion, the Kenyan delegation ran the table on behalf of African elephants at the 15th triennial meeting of the signatories to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, held in Doha, Qatar from March 13 to March 25, 2010.
Formed by the United Nations in 1973, CITES in 1989 banned international traffic in elephant ivory, but CITES triennial meetings have several times authorized exemptions allowing Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and

 

Zimbabwe to sell stockpiled ivory from legally culled elephants, confiscated from smugglers, and collected from elephants who died of natural causes. The exemptions--and rumors that exemptions may be granted--have repeatedly been followed by resurgent poaching throughout the wild elephant range in Africa and Asia, as illegal traffickers respond to the opportunity to market poached ivory under forged legal cover.
Just 37 elephants were poached in Kenya in 2007, for example, when CITES extended the ivory trade moratorium for nine more years, but 271 were poached in 2009.

 

Tanzania and Zambia asked for exemptions allowing them to sell 112 tons of stockpiled ivory, expected to fetch $13 million to $20 million. Tanzania applied to sell 80.5 tons; Zambia sought to sell 21.5 tons.
Tanzania and Zambia also applied to downlist African elephants from CITES Appendix I, which bans all commercial trade in a species, to Appendix II, which allows controlled trade.

 

The Times of London and the East African, of Nairobi, projected just ahead of the critical votes that Tanzania and Zambia had the support of the two-thirds of CITES delegates that they would need. They also projected that Kenya did not have the two-thirds support that it needed to extend the ivory trade moratorium for another 20 years. Japan and China reportedly backed the Tanzanian and Zambian proposals, while the U.S., Britain, and other European Union nations reportedly opposed the Kenyan proposal. But The Nation, of Nairobi, and Gulf News, of Dubai, heard different rumblings from the 23-nation African Elephants Coalition, led by Kenya and Mali, and the Species Survival Network's Elephant Working Group.

 

Come the showdown, literally at high noon on March 22, the Tanzania application to sell elephant ivory was defeated. Zambia withdrew its application to sell elephant ivory. The proposal to downlist African elephants was defeated despite winning a majority of the votes actually cast, 55-36. The proposal failed because 40 nations abstained from voting. Kenya then withdrew its motion to extend the ivory sales moratorium, which appeared to have been a bargaining chip.

 

The voting was swayed, reported Mike Mande of The East African in Nairobi, by findings of the Journalists' Environmental Association of Tanzania and the Environmental Investigation Agency, of London, that as Mande summarized, "Since January last year, Tanzania has been implicated as the source of nearly 50% of the ivory seized worldwide." Aldan Hartley of BBC-4 and Wildlife Direct, an anti-poaching charity founded by two-time former Kenya Wildlife Service director Richard Leakey, alleged in The Spectator magazine that as many as 31,000 elephants have been poached in Selous National Park, Tanzania, just since 2007.

 

Bobcats still safe

A less publicized CITES victory for animals came on March 17, when the delegates refused to ratify a U.S. proposal, backed by the fur industry, which would have reversed a 1977 ban on international sales of pelts from Lynx rufus, the North America bobcat. Bobcats are not considered endangered or threatened, but closely resemble the endangered Iberian lynx.

 

Other CITES triennial decisions included a series of defeats for animal and habitat advocates. The CITES delegates on March 18 rejected a U.S. proposal to move polar bears from Appendix II to Appendix I, on March 21 rejected proposals to protect bluefin tuna and the 32 species of pink and red coral on Appendix II, and on March 23 rejected proposals from the U.S. and Palau to add hammerhead, spiny dogfish, and oceanic whitetip sharks to Appendix II.

 

Porbeagle sharks appeared to have won an Appendix II listing on March 24, but the vote was reversed on the following day.

 

"Opposition by Japan, China and their allies led to the defeat of every proposal to give CITES protection to lucrative marine species," wrote Kristen Eastman of the Humane Society of the U.S.
On March 22 an agreement was reached among CITES members, including India and China, to better coordinate international efforts to interdict trafficking in tiger parts. "There have been many promises made this week," Species Survival Network big cat working group chair Debbie Banks told The Times of India, "but getting countries to actually use these new enforcement tactics will be the real test of the commitment to ending tiger trade, and saving the species."

 

Former Australian environmental official John Scanlon was named to succeed Willem Wijnstekers as the CITES secretary/ general. Wijnstekers, serving since 1999, is to retire on May 1, 2010.

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Sultan bans hunting in Johor Baru, Malaysia

JOHOR BARU, Malaysia-- Johor state ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar on March 5, 2010 ordered a halt to hunting and called for gun licensing to be tightened.

 

Sultan Ibrahim said that alleged nuisance wildlife, such as boars or crows, should be reported to the Johor Wildlife Department, which might still use lethal measures in specific situations.

 

Personally involved in breeding endangered species and rehabilitating injured wildlife, Sultan Ibrahim reportedly has as many as 18 tigers, several panthers, and 400 deer on his property.

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Egyptian Central Zoos director agrees to use contraception to prevent perennial lion surplus

CAIRO--Egyptian Central Zoos director and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species representative Nabil Sidki announced on April 6, 2010 that Egyptian zoos will begin using birth control drugs and surgical sterilization to prevent surplus lion births.

 

At least three zoos in Egypt, including the 120-year-old Giza Zoo, have been criticized for decades for doing little to curtail births of inbred lion cubs, some of whom are believed to be illegally trafficked, while others contribute to severe overcrowding.

 

Frequently exposing conditions at the Giza Zoo since 1991, former London Zoological Society fellow and Cairo resident Richard Hoath in May 2009 noted in Egypt Today that the Giza Zoo lions are still "kept in bare concrete cages, without any habitat or behavioral enrichment," even though the lion exhibit still includes an extensive moated veldt that was meant to be the main lion habitat when the zoo opened in 1891.

 

The keepers long ago routed most visitor traffic to the original back side of the exhibit, where most of the lions are confined in facilities built as night cages and feeding stations. There the notoriously poorly paid keepers solicit tips from visitors to arrange close-up photo and feeding opportunities.

 

"Rabbits could not keep up with the lions at Giza Zoo, yet they breed more," Hoath fumed.
Middle East Network for Animal Welfare wildlife panel organizer Dina Zulfikar, who in 2008 helped the zoo bears to get air conditioning that was promised 18 years earlier, in January 2010 took a busload of MENAW delegates to tour the zoo.

 

The MENAW delegates added their voices to the volume of complaints, but the real turning point, Zulfikar told ANIMAL PEOPLE, was the visit of a delegation from the African Association of Zoos & Aquaria [PAAZAB] in early March 2010. PAAZAB is the African member society within the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums.

 

WAZA expelled the Giza Zoo in 2004, Hoath wrote, "for, amongst a catalogue of ills, unpaid fees and the poor conditions in which the animals were kept." A WAZA revisit after the expulsion further criticized the Giza Zoo for keeping elephants on chains.

 

Sidki has made regaining PAAZAB and WAZA accreditation for the Giza Zoo a personal priority.

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Letters

Perspective

I want to thank you for your excellent November/December 2009 editorial about the historical perspective of American SPCA president Ed Sayres, in response to criticism of his decision to euthanize the dog Oreo.
Even though I have been in animal welfare for many decades, I have not had the personal insight you have had with the leaders of the no-kill movement. Your editorial was a rededication for me, and I am sure for many of us in animal welfare. It made clear that we sometimes get tunnel vision, based on what is happening to us at any point in time.

 

Keeping history alive is very important and gives us all a much wider picture. It also corrects, in this day and age of instant Internet communication, kneejerk responses and waves of information that may not be entirely accurate.

 

Your editorial reminded me of my core principle: "I don't walk in their shoes." Thank you for re-establishing the foundation for which so many of us dedicate our lives.
--Bonnie Carollin
Angel Paws
Georgetown, Florida
<Katnip364@aol.com>

 

Turtles & frogs

It was a long fight, 16 years, but the California Fish & Game Commission finally did the right thing and voted unanimously to order the California Department of Fish & Game to stop issuing permits allowing non-native turtles and frogs to be imported into the state to be sold as food. Action for Animals founder Eric Mills worked tirelessly on this, and this is his victory. We will be working to get the pet trade included as well. They had 20 people at the meeting, and they had their lobbyist there, but the commission said that if turtles keep showing up in the markets, they will stop the pet trade too. That made them hopping mad. I emphasized in my talk that no wild animals should be pets, so I don't really know how keeping turtles, snakes, and frogs became acceptable, but this is a global problem.

 

Susan Tellem of American Tortoise Rescue did an awesome presentation, posted to <www.tortoise.com>.
--Karen Benzel
Carmel, California
<KarenBenzelPR@Comcast.net>

 

Humane nation building is underway in Vietnam

I really enjoyed the editorial on humane nation building in the March 2010 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE. This is what we are trying to achieve in Vietnam with our Humane Edutainment program. We think Vietnam is ripe for humane nation building because a confluence of factors have opened the opportunity to act before factory farming and maltreatment of companion animals become entrenched as normative.

 

We are still in fundraising mode, but hope to launch the program in time for the new school year this fall. Meanwhile we are conducting small-scale weekend workshops that combine wildlife conservation and environmental protection issues with training in leadership, time management, and team building for primary and secondary school children.

 

We have 44 classes from Nguyen Tat Thanh secondary school come to the International Organization of Good Templars' Soc Son Campus, outside of Hanoi, every year. Each class comes twice, each time for two days. Each class has about 40 students. Additionally, we are hosting students from Trung Vuong, Nguyen Sieu, and Tan Trao secondary schools. The World Society for the Protection of Animals' local representative in Vietnam has been kind enough to provide some of the expertise.

 

Things are looking up and I am looking forward to keeping you posted as the project further develops.
--Robert E. Lucius
The Kairos Coalition
340 Bishop Ave.
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
<execdirector@kairoscoaliion.org>
<www.kairoscoalition.org>

 

Journalist hopes humane nation building can be done in Somalia

The National Association of Somali Science & Environmental Journalists wishes to explain the situation of Somali wildlife--although it is not easy to report about environmental conditions while Somalia is still in an anarchic situation.

 

Somali wildlife have been shot illegally for almost two decades. Foreign helicopters are hunting and stealing wildlife on the outskirts of the villages in coastal areas. Most targeted by the flying poachers are the Nugal, Karkar, and Mudug regions. Many animals have fled to neighboring countries. Others are illegally exported.
Most of rural Somalia is unprotected. Indiscriminate tree cutting has led to deforestation and desertification, and has made the country more vulnerable to climate change.

 

In addition, the unprotected 3,333-kilometer Somali coast has attracted foreign vessels, which loot marine resources and flush their wastes into Somali waters.
NASSEJ is now desperately wishing that Somali people can organize themselves to save the animal life, both in urban and rural areas, and enable reporting about animal needs and environmental protection.

 

The first Somalia environmental organizations were Ecoterra Somalia and the Somali Ecological Society. Ecoterra International in 1986 established a Wildlife Rescue, Research and Monitoring Centre. As result of this activity, Somalia joined Kenya, Gambia, and Tanzania in introducing the 1989 international ban on ivory trading established by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
NASSEJ is currently working with these organizations to seek ways to improve animal rights and animal protection nationwide.

 

As there is much evidence that animals are capable of feeling, we condemn totally the infliction of suffering upon our fellow creatures and the curtailment of their behavioral and other needs, except where this is necessary for their own individual benefit.

 

We do not accept that a difference in species alone (any more than a difference in race) can justify motiveless exploitation or oppression in the name of science or sport, or for use as food, or for commercial profit. We believe in the evolutionary and moral affinity of all animals and declare our belief that all sentient creatures have rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
--Daud Abdi Daud Dhimbil
National Association of Somali Science
& Environmental Journalists
Tahliil Warsame Building
2nd floor, Room 105
KM4 Area, Hodan District,
Mogadishu, Somalia
Phone: 2521-5531-800
<daauud27@yahoo.com>
<www.nassej.org>

 

"Animal protection" movement not advancing animal rights

I cringe at the use of the term "animal protection" in the March 2010 ANIMAL PEOPLE article "Farm Animal Initiative in Ohio Builds on California Success," referring to organizations that convince caring people that anyone can have meaningful protection without possessing the rights to not be used, bred, owned, driven from natural homes, or poisoned in body, soil, water, or air by humans.

 

Animal use industry representatives who say they are excluding "animal rights groups" from discussions of how to regulate misery are pretending to not know that the animal welfare and rescue groups they are excluding do not actually promote rights. Where language, strategy, tactics, mission, bylaws, objectives, and goals do not involve seeking unalienable basic rights for all individual animals, regardless of species, an organization is not promoting animal rights. To end the double standard that animal welfare reinforces, "animal rights" must mean rights corresponding to (though not identical to) human rights.

 

"Animal protection" assumes an organization or its methods protect or promise protection. But the nature of our institutions ensures that meaningful protection increasingly eludes nonhuman animals because organizations claiming to protect them address, and urge advocates to address, only superficial symptoms--cruelty and other extremely inhumane mistreatment--rather than the symptoms' source: the lack of basic rights on which to base meaningful protective laws and enforcement. Only establishing countervailing rights of nonhumans will be able to undo the effects of humans' current possession of property rights over nonhuman animals and their ecosystems. There is no conceivable way animal-welfare victories can ever put an end to animal use and ecosystem disruption, the sources of cruelty. Gradual steps toward eliminating tyranny's worst abuses occur after former victims become rights holders, not before. Establishing rights is the huge first step making possible the "baby steps" often invoked as "necessary" by welfarists. The animal-rights movement slipped into a coma so quickly after its birth that animal advocacy institutions failed to educate about rights, how basic rights come to exist, the human impulses behind them, and the private and public interests they serve. So the public lacks the understanding that eventually can produce rights for nonhumans in the way we we evolved our present concepts of human rights.

 

It is doubtful that any big human problem--health, pollution, global warming, war, genocide, food and water shortages, poverty, species extinctions--can be solved as long as nonhuman animals lack basic rights. All organized efforts are failing, and animal use and ecosystem disruption, along with other inhumane treatment of nonhuman animals are a root cause of all of them.

 

Help animals within your purview, report cruelty, rescue animals in need--just don't pretend these good and compassionate practices are a strategy for establishing rights.
--David Cantor, Founder & Director
Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc.
P.O. Box 891
Glenside, PA 19038
Phone: 215-886-7721
<RPA4all@aol.com>
<www.RPAforAll.org>

 

Praises ANIMAL PEOPLE

In response to your latest mailing, which includes an interesting and informative letter, I am again sending a modest donation that confirms my continued support for the publication of ANIMAL PEOPLE, your outreach to people in other countries on behalf of animals, and your specific endeavors to find ways and means to help animals with urgent needs in other countries, as well as to bring attention to the problems that have an adverse effect on people who care about animals, and to the work of shelters, sanctuaries, and other animal charities which continue to do great things on behalf of the rights, welfare, and other needs of animals.

 

Although there has been much success of which to be proud, there is so much more to be accomplished--here in our country, as well as in the rest of the world.
--Kermit C. Phillips
Red Hook, New York

 

Pakistan president kills goats to seek support

Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari has a black goat slaughtered at his house almost every day to ward off "evil eyes" and protect him from black magic, his spokesperson Farhatullah Babar recently told the Dawn newspaper.

 

Babar said the goats were killed as an act of sadaqah, meaning "voluntary charity," a custom whereby one gives money or the meat of a slain animal to the poor to win Allah's blessing. Dawn reported that "Hundreds of goats have been sacrificed at Zardari's house since he was sworn in, in September 2008," and added that "Zardari's detractors would see in his new-found religiosity a sign of nervousness in the face of growing woes," as Zardari "has become increasingly unpopular and faces a range of problems from militancy to a stagnant economy and political rivalry."

 

Animal Save Movement Pakistan strongly protests these cruel acts of the President of Pakistan, and appeals to animal lovers to send messages to him via Pakistani embassies and consulates asking him to stop.
--Khalid Mahmood Qurashi
President
Animal Save Movement Pakistan
H#1094/2
Hussain Agahi
Multan 60000, Pakistan
<thetension@hotmail.com>

 

From Swiss animal advocate in Serbia

For years I have received ANIMAL PEOPLE and have never thanked you, for which I am ashamed. Getting ANIMAL PEOPLE is always a big joy, combined with pain and bitterness about all the horrible things done to animals.

 

I am Swiss, but have lived in Serbia for the past 24 years. It is unspeakably difficult to live and work here, but there is a growing movement on behalf of animals. As Serbia wants to join the European Union, pressure is felt from Europe to improve our treatment of animals.

 

Street dogs are our most visible problem. Until sterilizing and microchipping dogs is enforced by government, we will continue to cope with daily tragedies.

 

Once again I would like to thank you for sending me your very inspiring newspaper. Thus we fighters for animal rights can see that we are not alone.
--Monika Brukner
Drustvo za zastitu zivotinja
i prirode Durdevo
Solunskih Dobrovolijaca 96
21239 Durdevo, Serbia
Phone: 021-838-919
<www.dzzdjurdjevo.com>
<dzzdjurdjevo@gmail.com>

 

Tiger parts trafficking exposed in Singapore

A 3-month undercover investigation by ACRES has revealed that 59 out of 134 jewelery and antique shops visited in Singapore offered alleged tiger parts for sale. Evidence of the 59 shops selling alleged tiger parts was recorded on video.

 

Approximately159 alleged tiger claws, 303 alleged tiger teeth, and 38 pieces of alleged tiger skin were found on sale during the investigation, which was conducted from December 2009 until February 2010.
All commercial tiger trade has been banned since 1987 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, to which Singapore is a party. However, there has been an approximate 50% decrease in wild tiger populations since the ban was enacted.

 

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority is the CITES authority in Singapore. It is an offence in Singapore to import, export, or re-export any CITES-listed species without an AVA permit. The possession, sale, or display to the public of any illegally imported CITES specimen is also an offence.

 

The demand for tiger parts and the amount of tiger parts being stocked by the shops appeared to be higher over the Chinese New Year period in this year of the tiger. Twenty-eight shopkeepers mentioned that an order for more tiger parts could be placed with them, and said that the delivery time ranged from one week to three months or more. Seven shopkeepers recognised that tigers are protected animals, that it is illegal to sell tiger parts, and that tiger parts are customs-controlled items.

 

The alleged tiger parts were claimed to originate from Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, China, Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos, and Cambodia.
--Louis Ng
Executive Director
Animal Concerns Research
& Education Society
91 Jalan Lekar
Singapore 698917
Phone: 65-9796-8592
<louis@acres.org.sg>
<www.acres.org.sg>

 

"Ahead of his time"

The November 2009 passing of John A. Caltabiano, DVM, remembered in your March 2010 edition, was a great loss, as he was one veterinarian who stood out ahead of his time in looking for real and advanced solutions to the age-old problem of surplus animals. It was Dr. Caltabiano who began marketing FeralStat, a birth control drug for feral cats, based on a drug for dogs that has been around for 50 years.

 

Thirty-five years ago we had birth control animal food, produced by an American company, that was removed from the market because women might eat it to give themselves abortions. Well, what would be wrong with human birth control?

 

Birth control animal food would solve, worldwide, the age-old problem of killing surplus animals or watching them slowly die on the streets.
--Jacqueline Stone
Flushing, New York
<joanns151@aol.com>

 

Applauds no-kill shelters for their efforts

I just read a letter to the editor in the January/February 2010 edition of Animal People headlined "Priorities." While the central issue involved in dog and cat welfare is the need to sterilize dogs and cats, I feel, after 30 years in the dog/cat animal welfare arena, that euthanizing homeless animals is not an answer. We have reduced euthanizing by sterilization, yet there are other methods to help cats and dogs without euthanizing.

 

It is not just that there are too many animals, as the letter author and many others seem to think. There are many homeless pets because people once acquired them, only to abandon them for various reasons. While there are some pet keepers in dire circumstances, many are not committed to their pets and value convenience more. They simply are not dealing with behavioral issues, making adequate effort to move their pets with them to new locations, or accepting responsibilities toward pets left when a family member dies, among many other stated reasons for giving up pets. In short, education is badly needed before a person even acquires an animal, so that people understand what is required of pet keepers.

 

In Illinois it is now law that all outgoing shelter animals be sterilized and micro-chipped. At local no-kill shelters I am familiar with, animals are sterilized upon arrival. This helps to correct behavioral problems, so that animals can be adopted out as well-adjusted pets. I applaud these no-kill shelters for their efforts--they do wonderful educational, behavioral, and veterinary work.

 

As most welfare workers know, you can only properly care for the animals (or people) in your care. But education will allow society to better care for animals, so that they will never enter a shelter. The

 

January/February Animal People article "Japanese Shelter Numbers Fall" documented how this happens.
Being a no-kill shelter, in conjunction with educating potential pet keepers to be responsible, will ultimately reduce the numbers. Prevention is the best method for dealing with the cat and dog homeless situation.
--Susan Hess
Elgin, Illinois

 

Editor's note:

U.S. animal sheltering capacity has approximately doubled during the past 20 years, while shelters in recent years have received fewer dogs and cats than at any time since national data was first compiled in 1950.
In the 40 years since shelter killing peaked, rising rates of dog and cat sterilization have accounted for about 95% of an 85% reduction in the numbers of animals killed. Increased adoptions and returns of lost animals to their homes account for the balance.

 

Despite all that progress, total U.S. shelter capacity is even today only about 12% of annual intake. But even that reality is not the biggest impediment to achieving no-kill sheltering. Of greater note, about a third of the dogs entering shelters are surrendered or impounded for biting. About 70% of the cats entering shelters are believed to be feral. Other than dangerous dogs and feral cats, about 5% of the animals arriving at shelters have health conditions requiring special care.

 

Unfortunately, the cumulative sheltering and fostering capacity for long-term care of dangerous dogs, feral cats, and special-needs animals may be less than 1% of annual intake of animals in these categories.

 

Animal sheltering & neuter/return in Japan

As an avid Animal People reader, I was shocked to read in the January/ February 2010 article "Japanese shelter numbers fall" (Jan/Feb 2010), stating that a good case could be made for Japan making fast progress toward becoming a no-kill nation. Only a small fraction of the animals entering Japanese animal control facilities exit alive. Many suffer inhumane conditions before they die.

 

Thankfully, neuter/return is gaining momentum, and has the potential to decrease the destruction of cats. However, a lack of shelter support in coordination with neuter/ return has necessitated the release of friendly cats, who may become targets of abuse.

Those helping dogs face such issues as open and obvious neglect or cruelty, without the option of bringing in legal reinforcement. Japan is among the very few nations in which dog-fighting is legal, and Japanese pet shops openly display puppies and kittens far too young to be separated from their mothers, isolated and curled up miserably in small plastic cases without comfort, companionship, or stimulation.
This is not the face of a no-kill nation.

 

--Susan Roberts
Co-founder
Japan Cat Network
Hikone City, Shiga, Japan
<info@japancatnet.com>
<http://japancatnet.com>

Editor's note:

The article "Japanese shelter numbers fall" pointed out that the number of dogs impounded and killed in Japan has dropped by more than 60% in 10 years. U.S. shelters currently kill 2.8% of the U.S. dog population per year; Japanese shelters kill 0.7% of the Japanese dog population. As the article stated, ANIMAL PEOPLE has no data pertaining to cat impoundments in Japan previous to 2007.

 

Christians should speak out for animals

I was at my local Christian bookshop recently and was disappointed that there were no books or teaching aids available specifically on or about animal welfare, animal rights, or environmentalism Even a check of their computer data base found nothing.

 

There were cute pictures of God's fluffy animals and more majestic species, with scripture, but nothing actually about our obligations to animals within Christian culture.
Animal rights, along with human rights, should be among Christians' first priorities. God expects us to give the utmost care to his creations, as he appointed us to be their guardians. Yet mainstream Christianity avoids discussing environmental and animal rights issues. Even Christian media seems to avoid these topics. When was the last time an ad ran on Christian radio, letting the faithful know about a seminar or service where the speaker would enlighten us about humane pest control, responsible petkeeping, factory farming, horse and greyhound racing, animal experimentation, the treatment of circus animals, or the ethics of rodeos and recreational hunting?

 

Often I hear churchgoers criticizing Islamic slaughter, yet how many Christians are aware of western slaughter methods?

 

Except on St. Francis of Assisi's day, there seems to be not much about animals in our sermons. And even the St. Francis Day blessings of animals occur almost entirely within the Catholic and Anglican demoninations.
If Christians do not take responsibility for caring for the environment and the creatures living in it, we are as bad as nonbelievers.
--Rebekah Mitchell-Matthews
Blackburn South, Victoria, Australia

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

Concern for circus lion cubs brings action in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and Dubai

BEIRUT--Concern over the plight of a circus lion cub, rallied by Animals Lebanon, has persuaded Lebanon to ratify the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

 

The global conservation community had failed for 27 years to persuade a succession of Lebanese governments to endorse CITES, brokered by the United Nations in 1973. But Animals Lebanon, a two-year-old animal rights group, succeeded in less than 90 days, by showing the Lebanese public, initially skeptical mass media, and senior officials that inability to enforce CITES rules is a significant cause of animal suffering.
Along the way, the suffering of the lion cub also helped to prompt Jordan to adopt a national animal welfare law, taking effect on April 2, 2010, and led to Egypt introducing a requirement that henceforth circus animals may be transported out of the country only by air.

 

Animals Lebanon president Lana El-Khalil and cofounders Jason Mier and Marguerite Sharawi joined a delegation invited by Lebanese agriculture minister Hussein Al-Hajj Hassan to attend an early March 2010 meeting in Qatar held to discuss the details of Lebanon becoming a CITES member.
Hussein Al-Hajj Hassan made clear to CITES secretary general Willem Wijnstekers "that he has every intention of having Lebanon join CITES within one year, and that he is pleased to have groups such as Animals Lebanon help accelerate the process," said El-Khalil.

 

The Lebanese decision to join CITES came too late for Lebanon to participate as an active member at the 15th triennial Conference of the Parties of CITES, held in Doha, Qatar from March 13 to March 25. Approximately 175 nations attended the CITES triennial, held for the first time in the Middle East. After Lebanon completes the requirements for CITES membership, Bahrain will be the last Arab state to remain a non-member.

 

"The case of the circus, and the trade of lions and tigers," exposed by Animals Lebanon since Christmas 2009, "highlighted the urgent need to have Lebanon join CITES and protect these endangered species," Hussein Al-Hajj Hassen acknowledged in a media statement.

 

El-Khalil heralded the Lebanese decision to join CITES as having "the potential to change the course of animal welfare in Lebanon."

 

But the Animals Lebanon achievement and any use of enabling legislation to advance animal welfare goals were decried by Soumar Dakdouk, 25, who styles herself senior campaigner, deputy executive director, and CITES campaign regional coordinator at IndyACT, a multi-issue Lebanese activist web site hosted by the League of Independent Activists.

 

Dakdouk, a past representative of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon and presenter at the annual conference of the Society for Conservation Biology, was among the four co-authors of "Building Capacity for Sustainable Hunting of Migratory Birds in Mediterranean Third Countries," a 2005 report funded by the European Union.

 

The report documented the ongoing destruction of birds by Lebanese hunters in defiance of an unenforced 1994 ban on bird hunting. It recommended not that the ban be enforced, but rather that it should be repealed and replaced by the sale of hunting licenses.

 

The cover carried the logos of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon, BirdLife International, and the Association Les Amis des Oiseaux.
"After Lebanon joins CITES," Dakdouk wrote, " a new law must be put in place to implement the Convention.

 

This law must not be confused with a law for the ethical treatment of animals. The two are completely different matters."

 

Responded Mier, "CITES is a convention about trade first and foremost. But CITES makes clear that animals cannot be traded without their welfare being protected during trade, and without ensuring that they are going to a facility that can ensure their welfare, and has provisions to protect the welfare of animals who are confiscated."

 

Christmas morning

The sequence of events leading Lebanon into CITES started, recalled Animals Lebanon cofunder Marguerite Sharawi, when on Christmas morning she received an e-mail from Princess Alia Foundation managing director Sarra Ghazi, forwarded by ANIMAL PEOPLE, "alerting us to the imminent arrival of a cargo of lions and tigers from Egypt," via Jordan and Syria. The Jordan-based Princess Alia Foundation "had already intercepted the lorry at the border between Egypt and Jordan," Sharawi continued. "The Princess Alia Foundation found out that the animals hadn't been let out of the lorry for 10 days and hadn't eaten for three days. They were in a bad way.

 

The driver said that the owner of the animals hadn't given him any money to feed the animals. So the Princess Alia Foundation gave them food and water, treated their wounds, and escorted them to the Syrian border."
This was all that the Princess Alia Foundation could do in December 2009, but publicity about the poor condition of the lions and tigers soon helped to change that situation, nearly four years after a Jordan Times expose of poor conditions at Jordanian zoos began to draw international attention to lack of a useable Jordanian animal welfare law. The Jordan Times criticisms were amplified over the next several years by Asia Animal Protection Network founder John Wedderburn.

 

"The Princess Alia Foundation has been trying to address the terrible situation in the zoos in Jordan," explained Ghazi in an April 3, 2010 e-mail to Wedderburn. "In January of 2010 a number of animals in desperate need of medical aid were confiscated. This was the first time that animals were confiscated from Jordanian zoos. The government is addressing this issue. Until yesterday we had no legislation in Jordan for animal welfare. Now that we have legislation, we are hoping that we may be able to address the zoos more aggressively."

 

While the Jordanian backstory developed, Sharawi and Mier of Animals Lebanon investigated where the neglected lions and tigers came from, and where they were going.

 

"We soon made the link between the delivery of cats and posters for the Monte Carlo Egyptian Circus that had been put up everywhere just beforehand," Sharawi said. "According to the posters, the shows were supposed to begin on December 23, 2009," but the scheduled performances were postponed because the animals did not actually reach Lebanon until four days later. The animals arrived with incomplete or erroneous CITES documentation, but because Lebanon was not a CITES member, they could not be intercepted or confiscated.

 

"There were five adult lions, three tigers and a cub whose feet were bleeding because her claws had been removed so that children could get close to her," Sharawi and Mier saw. "The wounds from the removal of her claws had not had time to heal before the trip," Sharawi saw. "We immediately alerted the Ministry of Agriculture, but when the ministry vets came, they said they didn't find anything untoward. The day after they reached Lebanon, the animals started their daily show. The cub was locked in a cage covered with a plastic sheet."

 

Collecting their own photo and video evidence, Sharawi and Mier "went directly to see agriculture minister Hussein Hajj Hassan," Sharawi continued.

 

Hussein Hajj Hassan verified the evidence, then ordered that the animals should be returned to Egypt within 48 hours, which would have prevented the circus from profitably performing. Months of legal skirmishing followed. Instead of closing the circus, Mier told ANIMAL PEOPLE, "They increased the number of performances and did three shows a day over the weekend, two shows per day during the week."
But the shows were cancelled by police on January 12, 2010. The Lebanese promoter sought to discredit Mier on a January 16 television broadcast by "saying I am an 'American' and he thinks I am a Jew," Mier laughed afterward.

 

The promoter also accused Mier of soliciting a bribe.

 

"Luckily I record everything with a voice recorder," Mier said, "and there was another person with me at the meeting," where the promoter alleged that this happened.
Name-calling failed, but Monte Carlo Egyptian Circus owner Elsayed Hussein Akef managed to remain in Lebanon, hosting performances, by contending that he lacked the permits he needed to take the animals back to Egypt.

 

Recounted Mier, "Jordan issued a statement saying they had already given the permission to transit on the way back to Egypt. Syria also gave permission to transit," but "stated that the shipment was not in compliance with CITES when it came through Syria on the way to Lebanon. Egypt is the only country that did not give permission," even after Mier personally visited Egyptian CITES officer Nabil Sidki in Cairo to ask for a document stating that the animals could return.

 

"It is my opinion that the Egyptian authorities did not give permission so that the circus would not have to leave Lebanon," Mier told ANIMAL PEOPLE. Meanwhile, CITES international enforcement officer John Sellar confirmed at Mier's reqest that "it is not necessary to have an import permit for Appendix II animals who are being re-exported back to their country of origin. CITES has no problem with the animals being moved from Lebanon whenever its authorities wish."

 

In the interim Akef won a Lebanese court ruling that, as Mier summarized, "the harm done by having the circus stopped would be greater than the harm done by not being in compliance with the laws." Lebanese agriculture minister Hussein Hajj Hassan appealed the ruling, but a verdict is not expected until after the Akef circus finally moves on.

 

"Since then," Mier added on April 4, "Akef has sued the Lebanese promoter for failing to live up to whatever agreement they had, asking the government to appoint someone to oversee the circus and finances."
Noted Mier, "An Italian circus arrived in Lebanon a few days ago," giving Akef some competition for audience share. "They arrived with a stack of documents 10 inches high. The CITES permits and documentation were all there. The tigers are 50% bigger than those of Akef, and exercise enclosures were set up for most of the animals the day they arrived."

 

Around the Gulf

The high-profile Animals Lebanon and Princess Alia Foundation efforts to aid the Egyptian Monte Carlo Circus animals prompted closer attention to the conduct of other Egyptian-based circuses throughout the Middle East--including in Bahrain, the last non-CITES nation in the region.

 

Five lions and two tigers were reportedly stranded at the Ahli Club in Zinj, Bahrain, for five days in January 2010 after a company called Frsan International Management was unable to find an airline to fly them back to Egypt in compliance with the new Egyptian circus animal transport regulation. Frsan managing director Fadhel Albado told Aniqa Haider of Gulf News that the circus eventually had to charter a cargo plane to come from Egypt.

 

In mid-March 2010 Gulf News staff reporter Abbas Al Lawati alleged that Egyptian-European Circus owner Mamdouh Al Helou (the Arabic surname is also commonly transliterated as Helw) had offered to sell two lion cubs to a pair of undercover journalists in Abu Dhabi without the required permits. "If selling cubs is illegal, I will not sell them," Al Helou said when confronted by Al Lawati.

 

"Al Helou said he did not know that selling the two cubs is illegal in the UAE," Al Lawati wrote. "He admitted, however, that he was aware that the CITES permit that he obtained to bring the circus animals to Abu Dhabi required him to exit with all the animals he brought."

 

"Arrangements can be made [to bypass that requirement]," Al Helou told Al Lawati. "We can get a death certificate, for example," Al Helou said.

 

Gulf News staff reporters Emman-uelle Landais and Mohammed N. Al Khan revealed further details of the proposed clandestine transaction two days later, adding that the lion cubs were "crippled by a calcium deficiency," which left them unable to walk. Eventually the Dubai government confiscated both cubs.

 

"The Al Helou family is very well known in Egypt with regard to lions and tigers," Mamdouh Al Helou told Landais. "The trade has been passed from father to son. My son Mohammad is a fifth generation lion trainer."
"It is believed that Mamdouh Al Helou and the Akef family work together," wrote Landais.

 

The Akef circus lion trainer is Mohamed Helou--but he is not Mamdouh Al Helou's son Mohammad.
Like the Egyptian-European Circus, the Akef family circus has been suspected of wildlife trafficking.
"Even for a circus, the Akef carvan is a bit bizarre," observed Donald G. McNeil Jr. on page one of The New York Times on November 28, 1995. "Most circuses hustle from town to town to sell as many tickets as possible. But the Akef circus moves desultorily. It arrived in Zimbabwe in May, gave sparsely attended performances in July and August, and left in early November. The route of the circus took it through Dijbouti, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, and Malawi--dirt-poor countries where few people can afford circus tickets, but rich in animals and scarce in sophisticated policing techniques."

 

"Akef arrived in Uganda with five pythons," then-Zimbabwe SPCA officer Meryl Harrison told McNeil. "Then he had two. He arrived in Kenya with seven, and in Zambia with six, then had two. He entered Zimbabwe with four."

 

Continued McNeil, "The number of lions in the circus has been as high as 10 and as low as six; endangered African gray parrots have gone from nine to zero. Akef Circus left Egypt with two chimpanzees. Six were seized en route."

 

Eventually Harrison confronted Elsayed Hussein Akef, McNeil reported. Akef "showed her bills of sale for babies bought from a known Zairean smuggler."

 

The Helou and Akef circus issues took a theatrical twist on March 1, 2010 when Middle East Network for Animal Welfare wildlife panel organizer Dina Zulfikar persuaded Mouhamed El Helw and Egyptian-Russian Circus lion trainer Faten el Helw to briefly address the MENAW conference and take questions from the floor. Jason Mier was in the front row with a laptop video presentation detailing the Akef circus tour of southern Africa in 1995 and the Akef circus debacle in Lebanon and Jordan, featuring Mohamed Helou.

 

Faten el Helw claimed to have no knowledge of either Akef or Mohamed Helou. "Who is this man?" she asked, as Mier projected Mohamed Helou's photo on a large screen between them.

 

Faten el Helw next performed in Abu Dhabi. Reported Landais of Gulf News on April 4, 2010, "The Egyptian-Russian-European circus opened yesterday and was keen to disassociate itself from two lion cubs who suffered severe animal cruelty at the hands of their owner, the namesake of the circus' biggest act-Faten Al Helw.

 

Mamdouh Al Helou and Faten Al Helw, an Egyptian lion trainer working with Sky Entertainment, the company behind the Egyptian-Russian-European circus, are 'not directly related,' according to Chadi Bassar, marketing manager for Sky Entertainment.

 

"Ticket sales for the circus were stopped in some outlets as a result of mistaken identity between the two Egyptian performers," Bassar told Landais. --Merritt Clifton

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

SeaWorld trainer death & Oscar for "The Cove" convince Solomon Islands dealer to free his dolphin inventory

ORLANDO, HOLLYWOOD (Calif.), VICTORIA--A third fatality involving the captive orca Tillikum and an Academy Award for anti-marine mammal captivity activist Ric O'Barry convinced Solomon Islands dolphin broker Chris Porter to seek O'Barry's help in releasing the last 17 dolphins in his unsold inventory.

 

Porter captured as many as 170 dolphins in 2003 and about 50 in 2007, 83 of whom were eventually sold to resorts in Dubai and Cancun, Mexico. Pending sale, the dolphins were kept in heavily guarded sea pens at Fanalei on the island of Malaita.

 

"I have decided to release the remaining animals back to the wild," Porter confirmed to Judith Lavoie of the Victoria Times Colonist during a late March 2010 visit to his part-time home in Victoria, British Columbia. "It's driven by the incident with Tilikum. I'm disillusioned with the industry," Porter said.

 

Porter trained Tilikum at Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria before going into the dolphin capture business. In 1991 Tillikum and two other Sealand orcas battered and drowned trainer Keltie Byrne, 20, during a water show. All three orcas were sold to SeaWorld when Sealand went out of business in November 1992.

 

"Tilikum was also involved in a 1999 death," reported Associated Press writer Mike Schneider, "when the body of a man who sneaked by Orlando SeaWorld security was found draped over him. The man jumped, fell or was pulled into the frigid water and died of hypothermia, though he was also bruised and scratched by Tilikum."

 

Tilikum on February 24, 2009 seized trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, by her ponytail as she lay on a submerged ledge facing him during a show, pulled her into the water, grabbed her waist in his mouth, and killed her much as Byrne was killed, inflicting multiple traumatic injuries while repeatedly dunking and shaking her.

 

Wrote Heather Moore for the web portal Care2, "Although a judge ruled that the video footage showing the attack won't be made public, Brancheau's autopsy report was released recently. According to the six-page report, Brancheau's left arm and part of her scalp were ripped off, she suffered spinal cord injuries, her ribs were broken, as were bones in her legs, arms, and face, she had bruises and cuts all over her body, and ultimately, she was drowned."

 

Some of the dolphins whom Porter captured and sold have died. Many remain in captivity, including in Dubai--but anti-capitivity activism in March 2010 persuaded the state-owned Dubai World resort complex to release a whale shark captured in 2008.

 

Porter is calling the Solomon Islands release project Free-the-Pod.

 

Wrote Lavoie, "News that Tillikum had killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando was a shock, showing trainers have been unable to provide for the needs of such an intelligent animal, Porter said. Another catalyst was the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove," produced and directed by Louie Psihoyos, starring O'Barry, "which shows the bloody capture and slaughter of dolphins" at Taiji, Japan.

 

O'Barry flew to the Solomon Islands at the beginning of April 2010 to assess the dolphins' prospects for successful release. If O'Barry believes Free-the-Pod will succeed, Lavoie wrote, O'Barry's son Lincoln O'Barry will film the work for Animal Planet.

 

ANIMAL PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton, at O'Barry's request, facilitated a day-long Internet discussion of the Solomon Islands captures between O'Barry and Porter on the Fourth of July 2007. Porter then argued that the captures were saving dolphins from being hunted for meat and their teeth, which have ceremonial exchange value in the Solomons. O'Barry pressed Porter to account for more than 120 dolphins who were known to have been captured, but were not known to have been sold.

 

O'Barry captured and trained dolphins for the Miami Seaquarium and the Flipper television series from the late 1950s until about a decade later, but came to view the dolphin exhibition industry as inherently inhumane.

 

Becoming a vegetarian in atonement, O'Barry tried unsuccessfully to release a captive dolphin in the Bahamas on Earth Day 1970. Learning from that experience, O'Barry has now successfully released dolphins on five continents. His anti-captivity organization, the Dolphin Project, is now part of Earth Island Institute, which also was the initial umbrella for the now defunct Free Willy/Keiko Foundation.

 

Deeming the orca star of the Free Willy film trilogy a poor candidate for release, O'Barry was not involved in the 11-year, $20 million effort that eventually released Keiko in the North Atlantic, only months before his death in a Norwegian fjord in 2003.

 

But throughout that time--and beginning more than a decade earlier-- O'Barry has worked to draw attention to the Taiji dolphin massacres. Originally conducted as meat hunts, and to eliminate competition to catch fish, the Taiji dolphin roundups became hugely profitable after the killers discovered that they could sell choice specimens to dolphin exhibitors.

 

Psihoyos in The Cove showed the dolphin killing, the role of the captivity industry money in perpetuating it, O'Barry's long campaign against it, and his own efforts to film it, using hidden cameras and the help of seven-time world free-diving champion Mandy-Rae Cruickshank to clandestinely place cameras underwater.

 

The Cove won a string of international awards, culminating on March 7, 2010 with the Oscar for best documentary film of 2009. While Psihoyos accepted the award, O'Barry held up a sign asking viewers to send him a text message to receive further information about helping to stop the Taiji massacres.

 

But Psihoyos and crew upstaged their own Oscar by setting up a sting during the Academy Awards preliminaries at The Hump, a Santa Monica sushi restaurant that The Cove director of clandestine operations Charles

 

Hambleton had heard was serving whale meat. Two vegan activists posing as food thrill-seekers wore miniature cameras and microphones to a $600 dinner that included whale meat. They collected samples. Marine Mammal Institute associate director Scott Baker identified the samples as having come from a sei whale, a species hunted by Japanese research whalers in the North Pacific.

 

The Hump closed, permanently, after federal charges of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act were filed against the owner and chef on March 20.
--Merritt Clifton

 

 

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

The search goes on for a single-dose non-surgical way to sterilize dogs & cats

DALLAS--More than 50 contenders for the $25 million Michelson Prize for the invention of a successful non-surgical method of sterilizing dogs and cats registered for an intensive briefing about how to win the money at the April 8-10, 2010 Alliance for Contra-ception of Dogs & Cats conference in Dallas.

 

The first step, for most, will be winning some of the $50 million research and development funding offered by Found Animals Foundation founder Gary K. Michelson, M.D., to help the contenders approach the jackpot.

 

To do that, the contenders must present ideas that clear rigorous screening for feasibility, practicality, and safety by the Found Animals Foundation scientific advisors.

 

As holder of more than 900 patents issued or pending worldwide for medical instruments, procedures, and other medical devices, mostly used to treat back pain, Michelson has a clear idea what he wants to see: a single-dose treatment that will quickly, inexpensively sterilize dogs and cats for life, and can win regulatory approval for widespread use.

 

If the money was equally distributed among the applicants, Found Animals Foundation executive director Aimee Gilbreath told ANIMAL PEOPLE, it would soon be gone, not necessarily with anything to show for it. Millions of dollars have already been invested during the past 50-plus years to develop animal contraceptives, but no product has come close to meeting the Michelson criteria, simple as they are.

 

The Michelson Prize may go to the inventors of an immunocontraceptive, a chemosterilant, or some other method as yet unknown, but it is not likely to go to anyone soon, cautions Gilbreath.

 

"To our knowledge, there isn't any product at nearly a stage of development that is worth getting excited about," Gilbreath said. "Our presentations will focus on work in the research pipeline and discussion of what has been tried in the past, why it hasn't worked, and promising new avenues for exploration."

 

Why not pet food?

 

Animal advocates may be disappointed that the Michelson Prize criteria do not include the further stipulation that the winning method be potentially accessable for unsupervised use by individual rescuers. For more than 30 years dog and cat rescuers have yearned for a product that could live up to the promises that accompanied the introductions of several different "birth control pet foods" between 1963 and 1978.

 

At that time there was still relatively little concern about the longterm effects of birth control drugs on human health, almost no consideration of the use of pharmaceuticals as biological weapons, and was not yet any regulatory attention to the effects of drug residues in in the environment.

 

The "birth control pet foods" included progestin-based hormonal contraceptives. Repeated dosing was required, and sustained use led often to pyometra. Two products from this generation of animal contraceptives are still available--Ovaban, for dogs, and Feral-Stat, for cats. But neither is actually a sterilant. The "birth control pet food" introduced with the greatest fanfare, Mibolerone, was a progestin product closely related to the post-coital human contraceptive RU-486. It had the same issues as the rest, however, and the active ingredient was banned in the U.S. as an abortificant from 1988 to 2000.

 

"I'm not sure that we'll ever get to something that could be distributed by lay people, but I bet we could get to something that a vet tech can do--perhaps under indirect veterinary supervision," Gilbreath told ANIMAL PEOPLE. "Our goal is for it to be at least as easy as vaccinations are now," Gilbreath added, anticipating that the Michelson Prize will probably be won by an injectible product.

 

Procter & Gamble toxicologist Mark Lafranconi, manager of the $300 million P&G program to develop alternatives to animal testing, surveyed the P&G regulatory experts on behalf of ANIMAL PEOPLE as to whether a "birth control pet food" could gain regulatory approval today, even if it worked perfectly in laboratory settings.

 

"I have polled across our organization and the unanimous conclusion is this type of initiative would never receive approval," Lafranconi reported, "no matter what the jurisdiction, for the reasons you have already identified. Inability to control access and exposure is the major limiting factor."

 

Agreed Linda Rhodes, vice president for clinical development at AlcheraBio LLC, of Metuchen, New Jersey, a division of Argenta Inc., "I would say that there is no chance that the government will approve a substance to be given to feral animals using a bait, flavored substance or food, by lay people, given what we know about the science today. In order to not impact people, especially children, or other wildlife, such a substance would have to be completely species-specific. For example, a drug that could only be effective in cats and no other birds or mammals. Given today's science, there is no drug or substance that I can think of that has that level of species specificity."

 

The oral rabies vaccine Raboral has been used successfully since 1969 in foxes, raccoons, and coyotes, but only in pellets that can only be dissolved by the stomach enzymes of the specific target species.

 

"Oral rabies vaccine scattered as bait for raccoons, fox, and other wildlife, has been successful," Rhodes acknowledged, "but only because it is administered as part of government programs, and because human or multi-species ingestion has only beneficial results, i.e. vaccination against rabies."

 

Rhodes was previously director of clinical development projects for production animals at Merial Ltd., the maker of Raboral. She now chairs the Alliance for Contraception in Dogs & Cats board of directors.
Whether a new "birth control pet food" could be marketed today "really will depend on the country," said Humane Society of the U.S. chief of staff Andrew Rowan, an ACC&D board member who has professionally followed developments in toxicology and birth control for more than 30 years.

 

"You can buy all sorts of medications over the counter in many developing countries without much in the way of regulatory oversight," Rowan pointed out, "so if one could develop a chemosterilant that was not too toxic, it could find its way to the market in some countries for use by the general public. In the U.S.," Rowan suggested, "it would depend how it was classified. If it was viewed as an animal health product, then the veterinary profession would be loath to cede control over distribution. If it was classed as a pesticide, the situation would be different. You can look at Ovocontrol as an example. It is available in the U.S. for use by non-medical people because it is classed as a pesticide. Of course, something targeted rather narrowly at bird reproduction is likely to be treated rather differently from a chemical that interferes with mammalian reproduction."

 

Offered David M. Petrick, who is both a veterinarian and a lawyer, and heads Delta Consortium Regulatory Consulting Inc. in Princeton, New Jersey, "If the issue is whether a product will be offered for sale over-the-counter, at which point all professional judgment is lost, I don't think so, but it will certainly depend very specifically on the product itself, how it is administered, the margin of safety, and safety to the environment.

 

But even if the product is a prescription veterinary drug, the regulations state they can only be used 'by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.' In this case, 'on the order' could certainly mean a group of volunteers designated and trained by a veterinarian, who would be supplying the product and who would be responsible in the Food & Drug Administration's eyes. Likewise, if the Environmental Protection Agency were involved, EPA may require a certified pesticide applicator to use the material, in which case it would not be a vet, but a licensed pesticide professional."

 

Petrick previously worked in regulatory affairs and product development for both American Cyanamid and Schering-Plough Animal Health. He is also vice president of regulatory affairs for Velcera Pharmaceuticals.
USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service regulatory specialist John Eisemann, identified by Janet Raloff of

 

Science News as "the go-to guy for identifying what permissions, waivers or requests are required before wildlife managers can apply poisons or anti-fertility drugs," told the spring 2010 national meeting of the American Chemical Society about "legal tactics by which wildlife officials can thwart invasive vertebrate species with off-the-shelf chemicals," Raloff wrote in the March 22, 2010 edition of Science News.

 

"He noted, for instance," Raloff continued, "how scientists have used a contraceptive vaccine," called Gonacon, "designed to control white-tail deer populations, on rodents. It offered a nonlethal approach to reining in a population explosion of non-native fox squirrels on a University of California campus. In another instance," Raloff said, "wildlife managers employed a cholesterol inhibiting drug to reduce sex hormone levels--and the urge to reproduce--among monk parakeets."

 

So some openings may remain for introducing a "birth control pet food," if such a product is developed, even if it does not meet the Michelson criteria.

 

SenesTech

Despite expert skepticism, a June 2008 report by Arizona Biosciences News rekindled hope that a "birth control pet food" might be just around the corner.
The report focused on the work of a company called SenesTech to develop a rodent birth control product called ContraPest.

 

"Until recently," said Arizona Biosciences News, "the active ingredient in ContraPest was known in the scientific community mainly as a menace. The industrial chemical 4-vinylcyclohexene diepoxide, or VCD, is widely used in manufacturing products such as tires, polyesters, and epoxy resins. Women working in industrial settings who have received high-dosage exposure to VCD have suffered serious reproductive damage."

 

Partnering with the Australian government's Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, SenesTech has tested VCD as a possible way to sterilize rats and wallabies. SenesTech has also experimented with a VCD product for dogs called ChemSpay.

 

Concluded Arizona Biosciences News, "One of SenesTech's first tests of ChemSpay occurred on the Navajo Nation." SenesTech founder Loretta Mayer's team "treated 170 dogs with VCD; all are sterile, and none have died. With funding support from the U.S. Humane Society, SenesTech is continuing research toward a single-injection treatment that veterinarians and public-health officials could use to control overpopulation of both domesticated and feral dogs and cats."

 

Rowan was unable to identify any involvement by the Humane Society of the U.S., but HSUS is a major funder of the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs, and ACC&D did fund one early study of ChemSpay.

 

Explained ACC&D president Joyce Briggs, "ChemSpay, initially developed to model human menopause in mice, was a novel approach to non-surgical sterilization which piqued our interest early on. ACC&D funded a small study in 2006 to evaluate whether the ChemSpay approach may be effective in dogs. That study was not able to demonstrate effectiveness. SenesTech's subsequent work has focused on mice and rats, though representatives of the company have said that they plan to return to work on formulations for cats and dogs in the future. ACC&D recognizes that this approach is in very early stages in terms of applications in cats and dogs. We have asked SenesTech to keep us apprised of progress , and will share any relevant, non-proprietary information that becomes available."

 

SenesTech did not respond to repeated inquiries from ANIMAL PEOPLE in 2009 and early 2010. According to the SenesTech web site, "Consumption of ContraPest will cause female rat sterility within one month of ingestion. ContraPest is being formulated in a rat attractant specific bait minimizing consumption by non-target species. Our product is environmentally neutral. It is rapidly inactivated in dosed rats and the excreted metabolite is inactive. ContraPest will not bioaccumulate nor enter the food chain. Therefore predators of the rats will not be accidentally dosed. The rats who consume the ContraPest bait have no physiologic changes other than elimination of all eggs in the ovary, resulting in permanent sterility. It is expected to be marketed within two years to the 13 Southeast Asian countries that are responsible for the vast majority of world rice production."

 

Confirmed Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation vertebrate pest stream leader Lyn Hinds, "I have been undertaking trials on this chemical product here in Australia and in Indonesia. However," she said, "due to the commercial-in-confidence nature of the research, no specific publications or details of the results are available at this stage."

 

VCD studies
But scientific journals have reported about the contraceptive effects of VCD.
Headlined Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology in August 1999, "A Single Dose of the Ovotoxicant 4-Vinylcyclohexene Diepoxide Is Protective in Rat Primary Ovarian Follicles." Though longterm exposure to VCD can produce sterility, the five co-authors concluded that "These data provide evidence for a 'protective' response against the normal rate of atresia in primary ovarian follicles following exposure."

 

Since the Michelson Prize requires that the winning substance be effective after a single dose, this finding would appear to exclude ChemSpay.

 

Summarized a 2001 report in Biology of Reproduction, "Following 30 days of daily dosing, the majority of small preantral follicles in immature as well as in adult rats are destroyed. Previous studies have shown that 15 daily doses of VCD (80 mg/kg, i.p.) destroy about 50% of oocytes contained in small preantral ovarian follicles in rats."

 

In other words, a VCD product might have to be administered every day for two weeks to a month to be effective.

 

VCD is carcinogen

VCD can have other effects. The International Agency for Research on Cancer found in 1994 that "Skin application of VCD produced benign and malignant skin tumours in all studies in mice and in a study in rats. In one study in mice, it also increased incidences of ovarian and lung tumours in females."

 

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences researcher James Huff confirmed in Toxicological Sciences in 2001 that VCD "induced both squamous cell and basal cell neoplasms of the skin" of most male and female rats and mice. "Both benign and malignant tumors of the ovaries were caused by dermal exposure in female mice," Huff added, also noting a possible association of VCD exposure with lung cancer in mice.

 

The production of squamous cell tumors is of particular concern in considering VCD applications for use in dogs and cats. Explains University of Illinois veterinarian Sandra Manfra Marretta in Recognition and Treatment of Oral Tumors, "Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common oral tumor in the cat and is the second most common oral tumor in the dogŠThe prognosis in dogs with oral squamous cell carcinomas if therapy is timely and correct is fair with approximately 50% of treated dogs living one year. The prognosis in cats with oral squamous cell carcinoma is very poor because of the rapid growth of this tumor in cats."

 

Pharmaceutical developers often thread their way through a maze of potential obstacles to perfecting and marketing new products, including the possibility that an ingredient may cause cancer at particular dose levels. Thus the published studies indicate not impossibility so much as the potential degree of difficulty involved in perfecting ChemSpay and winning regulatory approval for it.

 

600 Million

But almost a year and a half after the Arizona Biosciences News appeared, ANIMAL PEOPLE heard from five different animal advocacy donors and fundraisers, just a few weeks apart, that ChemSpay or an unnamed similar product will, as one put it, "Change the world!" One of them specifically cited SenesTech as the developer.

 

Four of the five, including the one who mentioned SenesTech, turned out to have associations with a new nonprofit organization called 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You, headed by Alex Pacheco, who cofounded PETA in 1981 and in 1998, after leaving PETA, briefly headed the New England Anti-Vivisection Society.

 

Wrote Pacheco in a December 13, 2009 web posting, "We are talking with scientists about teaming up to develop animal birth control pellets that will allow us to end a vast amount of suffering around the world. It's a long, expensive and complex process that involves everything from getting FDA and EPA approval to negotiating with the governments of impoverished nations, where we plan to distribute the birth control pellets for free."

 

The 600 Million rhetoric escalated in connection with a February 28, 2010 dinner hosted by Animal Rescue Resource Found-ation cofounders Craig and Pam Neilson, of Vista, California, to promote investment in developing a "Super Birth Control Pill for Dogs." The Animal Rescue Resource Foundation, formerly called the Give Some Life Foundation, has funded surgical sterilization of more than 10,000 dogs in northern Mexico during the past seven years.

 

Elaborated a 600 Million appeal mailing, sent in mid-March, "We are in the process of developing specialized, long-term 'super' birth control pills (in the form of food pellets) for dogs... formulas that will provide years of contraception, from just one doseŠIt must be a pill. Injections will not solve the problem because they are too difficult to administer to millions of dogs running loose. Pills on the other hand can easily be mixed with food.

 

We are in the process of hiring scientists to fast-track this. We are building a network to enable distribution of the pill in more than 60 countries."

 

Asked for specifics, Pacheco told ANIMAL PEOPLE only, "I have access to data and documents which you do not." Pacheco said he was "preparing a list of additional documents and statements for publication," and would "release the documents when they are ready to be released," but the only new item he released in the next three weeks was a letter similar to his own appeals, signed by Jeff Young, DVM, of Planned Pethood Plus in Denver, who also cited no specifics about the birth control product.

 

Noted ACC&D director of outreach Karen Green, "Alex has not publicly named the technology he's referring to or the partner he's working with. SenesTech would make some sense, since that technology most closely matches Alex's claims about a permanent sterilant delivered orally. However, the SenesTech approach is still in very early stage research in terms of proving efficacy and safety in dogs and cats, and beyond that stage, there are years of hurdles to getting regulatory approval. While we would love to see something available that matches Alex's description, I'm afraid we--including our network of directors, scientific advisors, and colleagues in the field--have seen no evidence that such technology is anywhere near."

 

Added Green and Briggs in a written statement, "We are pleased to see other organizations working on new ways of controlling pet populations. We hope that 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You will help raise awareness about the need for new ways to control reproduction in animals.

 

"Until the recent announcement about the near-ready 'super birth control pill,'" the statement said, "the stated goal of 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You was to create a birth control pill for animals--focusing on dogs--which provides contraception for at least six months and can be mixed into food for easy delivery. ACC&D has long believed that cat and dog contraceptives must be long-lasting--a minimum of three years, but ideally permanent--in order to have significant impact. Particularly for the stray and free-roaming dogs in developing countries, a product requiring semi-annual treatment is impractical. While we do believe there may be niche use for a product lasting six months, we believe such a product is unlikely to be effective for large-scale population control."

 

ANIMAL PEOPLE president Kim Barltett disagrees. "Since true street dogs-- not 'community dogs'-- in the developing world have an average lifespan of around three years, with possibly five breeding cycles for each female who survives that long, an oral birth control formula lasting six months would have the potential to cut breeding by about 20%. This would be a huge reduction in the birth rate by itself, and if the product were effectively administered twice a year to all the female dogs in an area, the birth rate in the treatment area would plummet. There are a lot of variables and plenty of opportunities for improper dosing, but I disagree with the conclusions of ACC&D that a contraceptive lasting only six months would have an insignificant impact on a street dog population."
--Merritt Clifton



Merritt Clifton
Editor, ANIMAL PEOPLE
P.O. Box 960
Clinton, WA 98236

Telephones: 360-579-2505, 360-678-1057
Cell: 360-969-0450
Fax: 360-579-2575
E-mail: anmlpepl@whidbey.com
Web: www.animalpeoplenews.org

[Your donations help to support ANIMAL PEOPLE, the leading independent nonprofit newspaper providing original investigative coverage of animal protection worldwide, founded in 1992. Our global readership includes the decision-makers at more than 10,000 animal protection organizations. We have no alignment or affiliation with any other entity. Free online; $24/year by post; for free sample, please send postal address.]