With averted eyes, drivers rush past a lifeless deer on the road’s edge. The scene is a common one. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a driver hits a deer an estimated 1.5 million times each year in the U.S.1, up from 200,000 just 25 years ago. These accidents kill hundreds of thousands of deer, over a hundred motorists, and cost insurance companies more than a billion dollars a year.2 Aside from reducing our use of the roads and exercising greater caution when we must drive, deer reflectors, fencing, seasonal signage and other deer deterrents may be the most effective ethical means to prevent these accidents. Greenways and wildlife corridors can keep animals out of the roadway altogether, by providing safe passage from one park or natural area to another in our increasingly isolated wild areas.
Many hunters take a different view: They see roadway deaths of deer as an opportunity to advocate hunting in the name of road safety. A 2002 study by Friends of Animals found that hunting actually exacerbates roadway deaths of deer because it can frighten deer into darting out to roadways. About half of all these collisions occur in just three months: October, November, and December — hunting season.3 During the autumn, the average number of deer hit by cars jumps from 550 per month to over 1,700 per month. The Erie Insurance Company in Pennsylvania found that the number of deer hit in 1997 increased five-fold on the first day of hunting season.4
Nevertheless, state environmental and wildlife management agencies encourage hunting in more communities every year, using the spec of cars mangled by runaway deer to scare local communities into enacting hunting regulations in new areas and expanding hunting in areas that already allow it. This too is an opportunity for gain. Government wildlife agencies collect money when they license hunters. Add matching funds from the federal government, and hunters effectively become the clients of these agencies.
Pausing to reflect
Some ethically sound investments are available. The first commercial deer reflectors, dubbed Swareflex, debuted in the U.S and Canada in 1978. Since 1993, they have been made under the name Strieter-Lite, and can be found in 17 states and British Columbia and Ontario, Canada.
“Strieter-Lites keep all kinds of animals off the road, including deer,” says John Strieter, president of the Strieter Corporation. “In Florida they have shown to keep the key deer and Florida panther out of roadways; and they keep elk in Colorado, cougars in Oregon, and wild horses in Nevada from being hit.” Though reflectors are usually used to keep whitetail deer out of roads, foxes, coyotes, opossums, and raccoons are all discouraged by the reflectors.
Reflectors are set up along the side of the road at 50-foot intervals, and use a passing car’s headlights to reflect light in a perpendicular stream from the oncoming vehicle, causing deer or other animals to freeze before entering the roadway. The unnatural light patterns cause animals to move away from these areas without crossing the road.
Strieter claims that accidents are reduced by an average of 80% when the reflectors are used properly, a number that is supported by an independent researcher who analyzed Strieter’s data. In the field, however, the reflectors have a varied record of success. Some states (Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon, and Wisconsin) that have used reflectors have reported significant reductions in the number of deer hit, while others (California, Maine and Wyoming) have noticed no difference in studies where the reflectors were covered, and then uncovered, and number of deer deaths compared. Even within some states, such as Colorado and Washington, the effectiveness seems to vary. 5
According to a report by the Iowa Department of Transportation, the low effectiveness of deer reflectors at test sites there may have been linked to large increases in vehicle miles driven and deer populations over the last 15 years, negating modest decreases from reflector use, so deer fences with crossing structures were implemented instead.6
Maintenance of the reflectors has a real impact on how they work as well. Steve Chicka, a county engineer in Fond du Lac County, Wis., explains, “The effectiveness of the reflectors became quite obvious when we discovered that all of the [new] kills had occurred in places where we had ‘gaps’ or ‘holes’ in our reflector coverage.” 7 Although the federal government hasn’t conducted large-scale surveys, deer reflectors are approved to receive federal funding under the Hazard Elimination Program of the Federal Highway Administration, which means it is up to local road managers to decide if the choice is right for their area.
Herschel Stacy, sign shop supervisor for the Calhoun County Road Commission in Marshall, Mich., says their test area has shown good results. “We’ve had about a 90% decrease in our car-deer accidents, and recently I looked for a new area of the road where we have had a large number of deer hits and put them in. Last autumn, before installing the reflectors, we had 24 car-deer accidents there, and so far this year there haven’t been any.”8
Critiques of Strieter-Lites, including cost-related issues, have prevented them from more widespread use. According to Pat Wallace, the assistant resident engineer for Lewis County in upstate New York, “They’re very expensive to put in, and we’ve just had so many budget cuts in the last few years we can barely afford to fill in the potholes.”9 Strieter answers, “They are the cheapest safety devices available to prevent car-deer accidents. At a cost of $7,000-$10,000 per mile, and the average accident costing $2,500, only 3 accidents need to be avoided for the reflectors to pay for themselves. The only other alternative to keeping deer out of roads is fencing, which restricts movement within habitat and costs about $150,000 per mile.” Though local areas do pay for the cleanup costs of deer when they are hit, they don’t pay the majority of costs; insurance companies do, so a stronger argument for reflectors can be made based on injuries and deaths rather than vehicle damage.
Differences in terrain, especially in the types of trees that might diminish the reflectors’ effectiveness (reflector strength in a densely forested area varies from that in open ponderosa pine for example) could also lead to differing results from one region to another, according to a 1992 report by Mary Ossinger of the Washington State Department of Transportation.10
Other limitations of the Strieter-Lite system include the reflectors’ ineffectiveness in daylight, and vulnerability to defacement by vandals or weather. About 80% of animal road crossings occur at dawn and dusk, however; so reflectors are still useful for the majority of animal crossings, according to Strieter-Lite’s promotional material.
Pat Wallace criticizes the reflectors because of the time needed to maintain them. “We get in excess of 250 inches of snow a year and it’s very high-maintenance to keep the reflectors cleaned off after a snowstorm.”11 Mike Day, highway maintenance supervisor for the Colorado Department of Transportation, argues that “most animals are hibernating during and right after the big storms, and by the time they come out, the snow has melted off or been cleared away from the reflectors. We’ve had a 60-70% reduction in car-deer accidents since testing them out.”12
It seems that some areas find deer reflectors a cost-effective investment, while others lag and continue to conduct localized studies before making a large purchase. Minnesota has outfitted 14 highway regions with reflectors and British Columbia has covered 13 (comprising about 20 km of road where high numbers of accidents occur). According to Strieter, Indiana, New Jersey and New York have invested in the reflectors in the last two to three years. In the states of Washington and Florida, all new road construction must include deer reflectors. Because new construction typically travels through areas free-living animals call home, this requirement is one that should adhere to all road construction zones.
Changing behavior, saving animals
Deer reflectors aren’t the only way to keep deer out of roads, and combining methods or offering alternative methods might be the best way to reduce the dangers to deer on posed by North American drivers. Working with officials in Idaho, Nevada and Utah, researchers at Utah State University implemented signs that would only be used seasonally (as opposed to permanent deer crossing signs, typically ignored by drivers). These signs got attention because of their reflective flags and flashing lights, and were supplemented with smaller signs every mile to remind drivers to keep their speeds down. The number of deer killed in these zones was reduced by half.13
Deer are drawn to “edge habitat”, those spaces between open areas and woods, including roadsides, which often feature the kind of low brush and saplings deer eat. By clearing broad areas next to the road, and reducing foliage that might attract them, not only will deer (and perhaps other nonhuman animals as well) be less apt to spend time near roads, but when they do venture out, drivers will be much more likely to see them and slow down in time to avert an accident.
Repellents can discourage deer from roadsides, but fencing — an expensive option — is the “only broadly accepted method of reducing deer collisions that’s theoretically sound and proven effective, combined with underpasses and overpasses where appropriate,” according to the Insurance Institute’s Status report from January of 2004.
Wildlife corridors and greenways may be among the best long-term solutions to the problem of animal deaths on roads. While these green spaces connecting larger natural areas have been very popular and effective in Europe for decades, the U.S. has been catching on to the benefits they can provide only for the last few years. These areas can provide safe passage for animals under or over roads, and return some of the land humans have taken over, allowing many kinds of animals to move more freely.
Greenways and wildlife corridors can be highly effective in reducing animal deaths by car and can be added even in urban areas, as has been shown in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. A comprehensive 2002 University of Florida study determined that “[t]hese corridors do help in connecting populations, and theoretically they should help sustain networks of populations existing in increasingly fragmented landscapes,” said Josh Tewksbury, lead author.14 Of course greenway projects are not short-term fixes and must be planned into new construction, but it should come as no great surprise that returning land to a more natural state would be of the greatest benefit to free-living animals, and ourselves as well.
Keeping humans and free-living animals alive and safe is a community responsibility. Deer reflectors, fencing, seasonal warning signage, and the establishment of open areas on roadsides are inexpensive and ethically sound ways to keep deer and other animals from being killed. Encourage your local Department of Transportation to use reflectors on newly constructed roads, and in areas where deer-car collisions are common. Greenways and wildlife corridors are another great alternative, which has benefits for both people and animals. East Coast Greenway can be contacted at www.greenway.org or call 401.789.4625. Contact the Strieter-Lite Company at 2100 18th Ave., Rock Island, Illinois 61201. See www.strieter-lite.com or call 309.794.9800 and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute, 1005 N. Glebe Road Arlington, VA 22201 or call 703.247.1500.
- 1. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Status Report. “Lots of approaches are under way to reduce deer collisions, but few have proven effective”. Vol. 39, No. 1 Jan. 3, 2004.
- 2. Ibid.
- 3. Friends of Animals Report. “Deer/Auto Collsions.” June, 2002.
- 4. Erie Insurance Group. “Car-Deer Collisions Carry High Price Tag.” www.erieinsurance.com/abouterie/newsreleases/news46.html. October 21, 1998.
- 5. Road Management and Management Journal, Transafety, Inc. May 12, 1997.
- 6. Gent, Steve. “Deer-Vehicle Issues in Iowa.” Iowa Department of Transportation, 2000.
- 7. Road Management and Management Journal, Transafety, Inc. May 12, 1997
- 8. Personal Communication, January, 2004
- 9. Ibid.
- 10. Road Management and Management Journal, Transafety, Inc. May 12, 1997
- 11. Personal Communication, January, 2004
- 12. Ibid.
- 13. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as above.
- 14. Hoover, Aaron. “After Massive Experiment, Results Favor Wildlife Corridors.” University of Florida. http://www.napa.ufl.edu/2002news/corridors.html Sept. 2002.
Art is a realm of soul where the creative spirit is free to express inner vision, but if this vision seeks to kill in the name of art, then our reciprocal spirits will rise to judgment. So follows our inquiry into the work of Nathalia Edenmont, composed of the animals she kills and photographs for her vision. Currently on exhibit at the Wetterling Gallery in Stockholm and the Chisenhale Gallery in London, we are informed by Swedish activists of plans to exhibit in other countries, including the United States.
Of themselves, the photographs are puzzling. All of the animals are open-eyed, but it seems as though their heads have been computer-imaged or superimposed onto objects, absent the bodies. We see the head of what appears to be a young, adult cat atop an hourglass figure; the heads of rabbits dressed in decorative collars; five mice held waist up, each by a separate finger of a human hand; a decapitated lobster with the head of a chicken; and chicken legs, standing in what might be military boots.
Only in reading the Wetterling Gallery statement do we realize Edenmont has chosen to kill them. And we wonder why she has not used the available technology to photograph living animals and achieve the same visual results. Or, if her artistic vision concerns death, why she use animals at all; and then why not animals who have died for other reasons?
Science teaches that animals have both physical and emotional experience, and that their conscious interest in well-being is an essential component of their survival. Hence, the moral obligation to respect the animal’s personal interest in living. For us, this knowledge and obligation are primary. Yet they are new values in a world, that designates animals as instruments for human purposes.
That the Wetterling Gallery defends the exhibit does not surprise us; after all, money and reputation are invested. But when Bjoern Wetterling insists it is part of the fight for animal rights, he is either grossly mistaken or disingenuous.1
He is careful to mention that Edenmont is concerned with how the animals are treated, and that she “slays” them humanely. We are told these animals were intended for snake food, or they were no longer wanted by pet owners.2 However, what Wetterling calls humane slaying is only a reference to a degree of cruelty. Killing a healthy animal — no matter how painlessly — is not kind, and it is not consistent with the animal’s interest or the philosophy of animal rights. While killing animals for one purpose might be no worse than for another, Edenmont is responsible, whether or not someone else may have harmed them. She, of course, has other options, including not to kill.
Cleary, she sought animals that were visually appealing, not debilitated by age or disease, or damaged by trauma. Animals who died from illness or injury would not have suited this purpose. Because she kills them fifteen minutes before they are photographed, they do not appear to be dead.
The Wetterling Gallery compares the exhibit to other forms of animal use 3, and notes the hypocrisy of endorsing one while condemning another. But since the Gallery deems the exhibit is moral, the comparison itself is an acceptance of animal exploitation.
Art, says Bjoern Wetterling, is “food for the soul” — an old cliché, and one we tend to agree with — but here, his message is that because humans kill for food, artists can also kill for art. This is an argument that shows the morality of neither. It’s also a repeat performance: In 1992, Katarzyna Kozyra was an art student with active Hodgkins Disease, who decided to do her graduate project about her death and the food chain. While her professor suggested she create a sculpture, she chose instead to stuff the skins of dead animals — a horse, a dog, a cat, and a rooster — each with red hair, in order to match her own. For visual appeal, she too required that the animals appear undamaged. Her decision was to have red-haired animals killed for her “Animal Pyramid,” and to film the killing of the horse.4
In defense of her thesis — for which she won more acclaim than criticism — she said the purpose of her work was to ask whether having animals as pets annihilated the awareness of the presence of death in food animals — a theory that makes no sense at all.
Nevertheless, the controversy over her exhibit propelled her into the public spotlight. She survived, and continued her work, though she focused on humans thereafter. In April of 2002, the New York Times reported that for her, the “Animal Pyramid” represented the hypocrisy of outrage over killing animals (for art) while the outraged are happy to eat them.5
Unlike her predecessor, Edenmont has announced that she plans to continue killing animals. Bjoern Wetterling has even encouraged her to use dogs. Keeping in mind that controversy is free publicity, we understand that killing for art may be profitable. It’s unlikely that photographs of living animals — or of animals who died for other reasons — would receive such attention.
Wetterling explains the five mice on the fingers of a human hand represent the Five Stars of the former Soviet Union, where Edenmont’s mother was murdered. Whether or not the violent death of her mother figures in her work, what we believe about violence is also essential here. We may seek a peaceful society, but if we are content to harm animals for food or art, or for other reasons, we must admit that we do condone violence.
Our laws reflect this, and are based on a consensus where the majority supports animal exploitation. Harming animals is permitted so long as we are not wantonly cruel, but then that is something that may be difficult to prove. For example, an amendment to the Federal Criminal Code prohibits depictions of cruelty to animals, yet at the same time makes exception for that which has “serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value.”6 But in a society that endorses animal use, what is considered “serious” may not be sound or well-intentioned, and the law may do more to allow cruelty in these exceptions than to prohibit it.
In the world of contemporary art, some believe that art is neither right or wrong because it is meant to be an experience. Others say that contemporary art should challenge social values. If art is controversial, offensive or shocking, it becomes a measure of artistic freedom7 that may be acclaimed for engaging aspects of society that we are inclined to forget or deny. This is quite apparent in the current Sholby exhibit in Paris, which includes a depiction of cruelty to animals.8 It’s a visual crash with a photograph of primate experimentation that collides with the title of the work, “Good Science.” We are confronted by the horrific suffering of animals in research and the barbarity that is labeled good science. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could not question the morality of these experiments. And here the law — which would permit Sholby to show this cruelty — also allows the challenge to their exploitation.
The crucial difference between Sholby’s vision and Edenmont’s is that unlike Sholby, Edenmont causes harm. If Edenmont is making a statement about animal use, it is akin to an artist who depicts domestic violence by beating and photographing a relative. Yet because her exhibit — and the “Animal Pyramid” — are considered works of art, the law would allow them. If the line between violence and art is an illusion, it is nonetheless specific to species. Only animals may be killed for art, but animals are killed for many reasons. Significantly then, killing for art does not challenge animal use; it is rather a testament to it. And in this sense, it is conformist.
That critics applaud Edenmont — and possibly those who may follow her example — is irrelevant. Killing for art is unequivocally immoral. None of the reasons that attempt to justify it can change that. We continue to educate and to work toward the day when animals will no longer be victims of our vanity and arrogance.
Ellie Maldonado is an animal rights activist who lives in New York City.
- 1. Animal killer artist unrepentant, Sunday Times Australia http://www.news.com.au/common/printpage/0,6093,8150834,00.htmll
- 2. “Dying For Art” (c) Ooze Online 2001 – 2004 http://www.oozemagazine.co.uk/dyingforart.html
- 3. Wetterling Gallery Statement http://www.wetterlinggallery.com/newsletter/newsletter.html
- 4. Green Brigade Ecologists Paper, No.12 (Winter 1994).
- 5. Michael Rush, “A Renegade’s Art. Of the Altogether” – The New York Times [April 21, 2002].
- 6. 18 USCS 48, Depiction of animal cruelty.
- 7. Statement of the American Civil Liberties Union, “Freedom of Expression in the Arts and Entertainment” (“(T)he commitment to freedom of imagination and expression is deeply embedded in our national psyche, buttressed by the First Amendment, and supported by a long line of Supreme Court decisions…Provocative and controversial art and in-your-face entertainment put our commitment to free speech to the test.”) http://www.aclu.org/FreeSpeech/FreeSpeech.cfm?ID=9462&c=42
- 8. “Good science” – Au jour le jour http://septimus.sholby.net/zoom.htmll?101
MOVEMENT WATCH is an update on recent and current campaigns in the animal advocacy movement, with brief, rights-based analyses. MOVEMENT WATCH does not provide a full overview of any listed advocacy group’s work. Campaigns and news items are selected for their legal and social significance.
Captive Wildlife Safety Act: $3 Million Tax Dollars a Year Going Where?
Last December, George W. Bush signed the Captive Wildlife Safety Act into law.1 Since then, misconceptions about this law have proliferated on an international scale. England’s Green Consumer Guide reported the law under the misleading heading “Exotic pets banned in U.S.”2 So-called exotic pets are not banned by this legislation, which addresses interstate commerce, not ownership.3 The Humane Society of the United States, which supported the law, stated that it “would not ban all private ownership of prohibited species; rather, it would outlaw the commerce of these animals for use as pets.”4 Sarah Tyack of the International Fund for Animal Welfare expressed approval for the law, stating, “At least now shipping wild animals, like tigers, across state lines will be restricted.”5
But would it?
The law, which adjusts the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 “to further the conservation of certain wildlife species,” specifies that the only animals to whom it applies are big cats — namely, “any lion, tiger, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, or cougar species, or any hybrid of such a species.”6 Most of these cats (tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars and Eastern cougars) are already on the U.S. Endangered Species List, and given that the Lacey Act already prohibits animals barred by the Endangered Species Act from being sold across state lines unless the parties obtain are permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), any protection afforded by this revision is dubious at best.
As passed, the law exempts imports, transport or sale of the cats by anyone “licensed or registered, and inspected, by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service or any other federal agency with respect to that species” — which would include the FWS.7 Licensees from the American Zoological Association, the Department of Agriculture, and the FWS are exempt from the ban, and the same loopholes used now for interstate transference of endangered species will continue to be used to transport big cats. Prior to passage of the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, exempted parties would have had to obtain a special permit from the FWS to take cats listed as “endangered” across state lines. Now, against any groups who attempt to end the import and ownership of free-living animals in their state or local area, the federal Captive Wildlife Safety Act will be likely held up, incorrectly, as indicating that federal legislation already addresses their concerns.8
The Captive Wildlife Safety Act, it appears, was yet another legislative “slam-dunk” for animal charities — one that accomplishes little if anything for nonhuman animals.
European Cosmetic Industry Takes Tentative Steps
The European parliament has banned the manufacture and sale of all cosmetics and ingredients tested on animals.9 The ban, slated to take effect in 2009, forbids testing both finished beauty products and their ingredients on animals in the European Union, and outlaws the sale of products and ingredients tested on animals elsewhere. Some manufacturers say the ban could spark a legal dispute over trade with countries such as Japan and the United States, exporters to the European Union. The leading trade association for the personal care products industry in the U.S. (the Cosmetics, Toiletries, and Fragrance Association, or CTFA) sees the European Union as a $43 million cosmetics market. Already, France — home to such companies as L’Oreal — has approached the European Court of Justice demanding the ban be overturned on legal and technical grounds.10
The legislation itself has a troubling loophole. It permits three tests — relating to toxicity and fertility — to continue until 2013 if alternatives cannot be found. Those tests include experiments in which nonhuman animals are forced to ingest ingredients to assess their toxicity, the effect they have on the reproductive systems of animals, and how toxins spread through the body.
No Ethical Treatment of Hamburgers
In November 2003, humane-treatment advocates were “thrilled to announce” that the U.S. Senate had passed legislation to prohibit the United State Department of Agriculture from “funding the slaughter of downed animals for human food” as part of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill.11 2003 was the year of the first confirmed case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (often called “mad cow disease”) in the United States. Representatives from a sanctuary in New York stated that “the USDA is putting the U.S. food supply at risk of mad cow disease by allowing downed animals to be slaughtered for human consumption” and pointed out that “[t]he animal who tested positive for mad cow disease was a downed cow.”12 Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States, praising the idea of a legislative ban on the use of flesh from the disabled cows, opined, “I do believe that this can restore consumer confidence in the government’s regulatory authority as it stops one of the worst abuses that occurs in the modern livestock production system.”13
In early 2004, the Humane Society announced that “[t]he discovery of mad cow disease in Washington state called for swift governmental action to restore consumer confidence in the U.S. beef industry.”14 It was clear that humane-treatment advocates understood that governmental action would now inevitably occur, and that it would occur not in the interest of cows, but rather but so the sale of nonhuman animals for food would be able to continue. Yet the Humane Society depicted the government’s reactions as a victory, for “after a decade of working for the humane treatment of ‘downers’— farm animals too weak or diseased to stand,” praise was now due to the Department of Agriculture’s decision to finally ban such animals from the food supply.15
Humane-treatment advocates also pointed out that it is not possible to transport disabled cows humanely. The implied message is that humane transport is normally possible, as long as input is accepted from the humane community. It defies common sense to think nonhuman animals could be handled “humanely” at all when they are being turned into hamburgers. There will always be physically ill and suffering animals in the $27 billion dollar cattle flesh industry. Keeping such individuals out of the human food supply does not make animal agriculture healthy, and, more important, it does not make it ethical.
Vegetarian CEO Asked to Stop Selling Ducks
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, recently announced plans to become “the first major grocery chain to adopt humane animal treatment standards.” Because “Whole Foods customers don’t like the idea of ducks whose bills are cut off,” the company became the first major grocery chain to announce that ducks will be treated more humanely before slaughter.16 It may cause prices to increase slightly, but Whole Foods customers tend to be affluent. Brand consultant John Lister indicated that the move was a good business decision because animal welfare is now “on everyone’s radar screen” and “Whole Foods will now be seen as doing the right thing.”
Yet Whole Foods still sells plenty of animal products, so Friends of Animals wrote to the company’s CEO, stating that “Whole Foods is known for taking the high road and selling nothing artificial — ever. The time is right to sell nothing from a formerly living, feeling being — ever.”17 Joan Dunayer, author of Animal Equality, had already penned a similar letter to John Mackey.
Mackey, who is a pure vegetarian for ethical reasons, will not be eating any ducks. The letters challenged Mackey to apply the same ethical standards in business. Wrote Friends of Animals, “We look forward to the day we can tell our members that shopping at Whole Foods supports the most socially-aware and advanced marketing strategy imaginable: the first major vegan market in the Americas. What welcome news that would be for the world’s poor, for the animals, and for the environment.”
Update on London’s Annual Vegan Festival
As we reported in the previous issue, a good vegan fair, like a good vegan restaurant, has the potential to change the way people think about their diets and it does so in the most enticing way: by offering people of all ages wholesome and delicious food. And for anyone spending the Fourth of July in Britain, the next Vegan Festival will be held at Kensington Town Hall in London on that date, which is a Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The venue is considerably larger than last year’s hall, and we congratulate event co-coordinators Robin Lane and Alison Coe of the Campaign Against Leather and Fur, as well as leading sponsors The Vegan Society & Veggies, for the past successes that have led to this year’s expansion. Admission is £1.50 and free for children under 16.
New York Clinic for Cats and Dogs Shuts Its Doors
The Have-A-Heart Spay and Neuter Clinic in midtown Manhattan has discontinued its services. The clinic was opened in October of 1996 by The Fund for Animals, and, with the support of PETsMART Charities, claimed about 5000 neutering procedures annually.18 This was unquestionably valuable work in the heart of New York City. The question now is: How will Manhattan residents continue to obtain the necessary low-cost procedures that they have come to expect?
A letter from Michael Markarian, president of The Fund for Animals, explaining the closure, stated that “[t]he Board of Directors of The Fund for Animals has made the decision to focus our efforts and our limited resources on advocacy programs to stop animal cruelty and hands-on programs to care for abused and abandoned wildlife at our sanctuaries.” Markarian added that “there are many animal organizations and shelters which concentrate on companion animals” and that the Fund would get the most “bang for our buck” through a “focus on the animals who are too often forgotten: pigeons, crows, rats, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, pigs, mink, deer, chickens, bears, and others.” Markarian’s letter states that The Fund for Animals “spent millions of dollars” operating the clinic. The Fund for Animals listed $20 million as end-of-year net assets in 2002.19
Friends of Animals (FoA) was not notified in advance of the closure, but has been handling telephone calls from people who have explained that they had tried to call the Fund to set up appointments but were told to call FoA instead. Sandy Lewis, director of FoA’s New York office, stated in January: “We were not prepared for this, but we have coached staff members on managing extra volume on our spay-neuter hotline, and are treating this as an emergency priority so that the dogs and cats get the necessary appointments.”
- 1. Public Law No. 108-191 appropriates $3,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2004 through 2008.
- 2. Green Consumer Guide, Greenmedia Publishing Ltd., England (8 Jan. 2004).
- 3. Many thousands of big cats are currently owned and kept as pets across the country.
- 4. From the HSUS Internet description at http://www.hsus.org/ace/14793 (visited 7 Jan. 2003).
- 5. Green Consumer Guide (8 Jan. 2004).
- 6. Section 2, Definition of Prohibited Wildlife Species.
- 7. See Section 3(e), Prohibited Acts, Nonapplicability of Prohibited Wildlife Species Offense.
- 8. Numerous sanctuary advocates have consequently opposed the law, and worked to inform the public about possible detrimental effects; however, in the face of praise for the law from large charities such as the Humane Society of the United States and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, warnings by the sanctuary community have largely gone unreported.
- 9. “EU introduces total ban on animal testing for cosmetics” – Leisure Media (14 Oct. 2003).
- 10. Andrew Osborn and Amelia Gentleman, “Secret French move to block animal-testing ban” – The Guardian (19 Aug. 2003).
- 11. Farm Sanctuary E- Newsletter (6 Nov. 2003).
- 12. Farm Sanctuary E- Newsletter (24 Dec. 2003).
- 13. Eric Pianin and Guy Gugliotta, “Banning Sale of ‘Downer’ Meat Represents a Change in Policy” – Washington Post (31 Dec. 2003).
- 14. HSUS press release (Jan. 2004).
- 15. Ibid.
- 16. Bruce Horovitz, “Whole Foods Pledges To Be More Humane” – USA Today, (21 Oct. 2003).
- 17. Priscilla Feral, “Open Letter to John Mackey, CEO, Whole Foods Market” (31 Oct. 2003).
- 18. This is described in the Annual Report of The Fund for Animals (2002).
- 19. Ibid.
Although an estimated 100 million cats and dogs live in homes in the United States at a given time, many face the dangers associated with abandonment. U.S. animal shelters kill millions of relinquished dogs and cats each year. Uncounted millions more cats and dogs suffer illness, exposure, poisoning, starvation, and lonely deaths in vacant lots, under the buildings of cities and towns, on interstate highways and on country roads.
From our beginning in 1957, Friends of Animals has assumed a leadership role in advocating low-cost spaying and neutering as the most effective means of preventing the births of domestic dogs and cats and indirectly sparing many animals from grim fates in shelters. For five decades, we have operated the leading coast-to-coast cat and dog neutering initiative in the United States. This unique system, powered by a membership of 700 veterinarians located in 34 states and Puerto Rico, helps people obtain affordable procedures for more than 40,000 animals each year. Our educational efforts have drawn thousands of calls each month to our toll-free spay/neuter information line.
In this feature, we ask veterinarians who have made a difference in professional attitudes about domestic animals for the scoop on veterinary education, the business of medical treatment for pets, and the outlook for future trends in veterinary care in the public service.
Two students, Gloria Binkowski and Eric K. Dunayer, were pioneers: two of the first people in the United States to refuse to vivisect and still obtain their veterinary degrees. Their message? Never doubt that individuals can make a difference. Dr. Eric Dunayer, now a consulting veterinarian in clinical toxicology in Illinois, communicated with Friends of Animals electronically. FoA caught up with Dr. Gloria Binkowski during a typically busy workday at a New York animal hospital offering holistic veterinary therapies.
The Doctors Are In: FoA Speaks with Two Vets Who Are Changing the Field
FoA: How did you become activists in the veterinary field?
Dr. Eric K. Dunayer: When Gloria Binkowski and I filed suit against the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School in 1987, many people were surprised to learn that veterinary schools required students to harm animals. At Penn, veterinary students practiced surgery on healthy homeless dogs, who then were killed. Gloria and I refused to do this. Many professors and classmates reacted to our conscientious objection with hostility.
FoA: And you stood by your principles even at the risk of not graduating?
Dr. Gloria Binkowski: Yes, because we just could not rationalize harming sentient beings. In our argument against the practice of vivisection, an expert witness stated that vet students in Britain are not obliged to vivisect, and yet the British course of veterinary study is respected throughout the world. If British vet students can excel without resorting to vivisection, surely we could do it. And of course, then, it should not be mandatory for the average biology student. We were, in effect, challenging the way scientific community treats living animals across the board, and that is one of the reasons we met such resistance.
FoA: And you both obtained your degrees in a way that met your ethical demands?
Dr. Eric K. Dunayer: Yes. Ideally, Gloria and I would have opted to complete our surgical training by spaying healthy dogs in need of adoption. Although that is what we proposed for the settlement, we did our practice surgery on dogs who were already scheduled for euthanasia for terminal medical conditions. They were anaesthetized, we did the surgery, and the euthanasia was performed without the dogs being allowed to awaken.
FoA: Did your refusal to vivisect change the requirements for veterinary students?
Dr. Binkowski: Although we did not end vivisection at our veterinary school, the school now offers students an alternative to vivisection. This started a trend. If a top veterinary school offers alternatives, then any vet school in the country should be able to develop a curriculum that does not subject animals to vivisection.
FoA: What kind of advocacy best supports your work for dogs and cats?
Dr. Binkowski: I try to be the best possible doctor I can be for my patients. I try to educate humans about the needs of dogs and cats. In this world filled with homeless animals and crowded pounds, the kind of work done by Friends of Animals — active, continuous promotion of low-cost altering — is, I think, most important. I would urge people to tell veterinarians about FoA’s plan and encourage them to support it. What makes it particularly appropriate is that you denounce the practice of de-clawing or otherwise mutilating animals.
FoA: We understand that operations such as de-clawing, as well as tail-docking and similar procedures, are outlawed in Britain. Is there an end in sight in the U.S.?
Dr. Binkowski: I’ve heard some vets’ offices schedule an appointment to neuter a cat, and then ask, “Do you want the cat de-clawed too?” Unfortunately, the operation is still all too common. And the term de-clawing fails to indicate the severity of the loss. Imagine having your nails removed — with the third part of your fingers, up to the joint, taken along with them. Cats are born with claws and need to keep them for psychological well-being and for safety reasons, and for physical health as well. Cats need to be able to flex their claws in order to stretch their backs.
FoA: Given that most veterinary offices support the procedures, perhaps one can better understand why people have these things done. How can we change attitudes? What alternatives do you suggest?
Dr. Binkowski: Keep the cat’s nails clipped; that may solve many problems related to scratching. Cats also like to be given a post, or a piece of old furniture with rough upholstery, or a tree limb. A fibrous welcome mat can work. Turning a carpet over and allowing the cat to scratch the rough underside may also be a hit. Also, many cats tend to avoid foil, which can be used in spots as a deterrent. As far as I know, there is one study that claims that de-clawing really doesn’t change the way a cat acts, but anecdotally, there are reports that aggression or other undesirable behaviors might increase after de-clawing. This has been my clinical experience as well.
FoA: Why do veterinary offices perpetuate the thinking that encourages such dubious solutions and results in anxiety for the cat?
Dr. Binkowski: Because veterinarians have traditionally been beholden to the human client, not to the nonhuman patient.
FoA: How does veterinary education perpetuate that point of view?
Dr. Binkowski: Animals are viewed as educational tools rather than sentient beings.
FoA: Why has veterinary medicine been so slow to understand animal rights?
Dr. Binkowski: I think that, by, now, the veterinary profession is aware of the tenets of animal rights, but it resists the philosophy because it presents a threat to “business as usual” in profitable areas of the food industry and vivisection by pharmaceutical companies and universities.
FoA: They didn’t want to see other animals the way you see them.
Dr. Binkowski: No. It was a threat to their livelihood and their way of life.
Dr. Dunayer: Partly because of its vested interest in “animal industries,” the veterinary establishment opposes changing the status of nonhuman animals from property to rights-holders. As more veterinary students are trained in a way that respects nonhumans’ moral rights, the veterinary establishment will become more progressive.
FoA: How do you see this happening?
Dr. Dunayer: Since the late 1980s, U.S. veterinary schools have radically altered their policies regarding students’ surgical training. At eight schools, practice surgery no longer entails harm to animals. At virtually all others, students are allowed the alternative of surgery that involves no harm. Increasingly, veterinary schools are avoiding the moral inconsistency of treating some animals as cherished individuals and others as disposable objects.
FoA: Dr. Dunayer and Dr. Binkowski, you held the teachers to their word, and you both made it out with degrees to boot. In your professional lives, how do you work for change?
Dr. Binkowski: In any way I can, I support students who wish to study biology or veterinary medicine without performing vivisection because that’s one of the ways the veterinary profession will change. Other than that, I work in practices which are compatible with my veterinary philosophy. Also, two areas of interest recently are feral cats and pain management.
The trap-neuter-release method, or TNR, involves setting humane traps for feral cats — often cats whose parents were abandoned and began a cycle of bearing kittens outside — getting them altered and providing veterinary help, and then providing a source of food and water, and basic shelter from the elements. It teaches respect for the cats as individuals, and attempts to steer communities away from allowing animal control or wildlife services agencies to round up the cats and kill them.
FoA: Dr. Binkowski, what do you say to people who have concerns about the cats outside posing a threat to birds and other animals?
Dr. Binkowski: I understand their concerns. I’m a bird-watcher. Do cats kill? Yes. After all, one of the reasons humans transplanted domestic cats to the Americas had to do with the cats’ proclivities for killing rodents. But that brings up another point: Free-roaming cats are a human responsibility.
FoA: What is the best answer to the problem?
Dr. Binkowski: In my opinion, TNR is the best way to respect the birds, to phase out the feral cats, yet respect the feral cats who are currently alive and are still the responsibility of the communities in which they appear. In the big picture, killing these cats does not solve any problems for birds. It is a short-term response at best, and it assumes there is no way to respect birds and cats at the same time. In England, TNR has phased out a substantial number of colonies. TNR has been studied, and it is a proven method.
FoA: What is happening with pain medication?
Dr. Binkowski: The veterinary profession is evolving in a very positive way. Giving appropriate pain relief post-op for surgical procedures — including spaying and castration, trauma, and chronic conditions such as arthritis — is now considered to be the standard of care at veterinary teaching institutions and other high-quality hospitals and clinics. The people who are teaching veterinary medicine, particularly anesthesiologists, now accept that animals may be in pain without necessarily vocalizing; and, even further, they recommend that one assume an animal would be in pain from just about any kind of surgical procedure. Obviously, relieving pain is the humane thing to do, but studies have shown that sentient beings who get pain relief also recover more quickly, with fewer complications. In this day and age, not affording adequate pain relief is inexcusable. As one anesthesiologist has said, if you are not high-tech enough to address pain, you shouldn’t be doing surgeries either. But unfortunately, there are still too many veterinary practices which — for a variety of reasons, none of which is acceptable — have resisted offering adequate pain relief to their patients. People should evaluate their own veterinarian’s performance in this very important area.
FoA: What is your most important future goal?
Dr. Dunayer: I look forward to the day when most veterinarians will advocate, rather than oppose, nonhuman rights.
Post script: After FoA’s consultation with Dr. Binkowski and Dr. Dunayer, and researching information from leading anesthesiologists, we have undertaken to change our contract with veterinarians who participate in FoA’s spay/neuter certificate plan, ensuring that veterinarians agree to supply narcotic pain relief to cover post-operative pain.
Philadelphia has long been about a lot more than cheese-steak. And now, Lancaster Pike has one of the most impressive vegan restaurants we have ever enjoyed. SuTao Cafe, a peaceful diner tucked in between Power Yoga and an Indian grocer, serves elegant vegetarian fare. What’s more, the buffet offers their best items — all you care to eat — at prices students and retirees will welcome. Indeed, the restaurant attracts clientele of all ages and backgrounds. There is even a special buffet price for youngsters.
A good choice for a start is the Hot-and-Sour Soup, a tangy broth in which flashes of fire-red pepper are calmed by soft twists of tofu. Like everything at SuTao, the soup brings happiness and a healthful glow to all who enjoy it.
Obsessed with fresh vegetables, the menu’s creator, Susan (Wei) Wu, has experimented for years with various vegetarian dishes. Hence the name SuTao, which is the Chinese word for vegetarian cooking. As a child in China, Wu watched her mother cook with vegetables. Whereas children in the U.S. might recall feeling forced to eat our vegetables, growing up in China in the days of Susan’s childhood meant monthly rations of only one pound of meat per family member, and one pound of egg — less than a dozen — per family. Thanks to China’s thousands of years’ history with the art of vegetarian cooking, Susan’s mother could find many ways to prepare delicious meals from vegetables. “Much of this I learned from my mother, and experimenting from what I picked up at home,” Wu remembers.
After the 1970s, the economic situation changed in China, and meat became more popular as a rule — a rule to which this restaurant’s co-founders were no exceptions.
Susan Wu’s partner, computer programmer Tong-Yi Li, missed China because “here in the U.S., they did not enjoy some of the best things in life — like choosing a live, swimming fish to eat.”
But all that changed 12 years ago, when Susan Wu and Tong-Yi met a renowned teacher of Qigong (pronounced “chee-GUNG” ), a traditional art which focuses on healing, fitness, family happiness, social contributions, scientific progress, and longevity. Says Tong-Yi: “Although the effects are beyond the explanation of known and accepted fundamental physical forces, Dr. Yan Xin, in collaboration with scientists at Harvard University, the National Institutes of Health, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has produced the first scientifically concrete evidence that the vital life force or ‘qi’ can be projected out of the body to affect physical substances and objects at various structural levels, from molecular to nuclear.” That is why the paintings by Dr. Yan that decorate the restaurant, as Tong-Yi Li explains, may reflect the vital life force and benefit people’s immune systems — giving a new meaning to the term “healing art.”
After Susan Wu and Tong-Yi Li began to study this ancient healing method, their former interest in meat subsided. “Being tuned in with the vital human life force,” explains Tong-Yi, “seemed to naturally guide us into vegetarianism. Our bodies began to make intelligent choices. There was no feeling of resistance or loss at all; and it happened to both of us, although we had never set out deliberately to change our diets. All sorts of subtle changes occurred. If Susan, who notices the smallest detail, catches sight of a fly, she will carry the fly outside. The practice of this art does cause one to feel a gentleness about the forces of life in other beings.”
Tong-Yi continues: “In China, there has always been a tradition of gentleness — for example, in Buddhism. But most people put up a great deal of resistance, so one meets Buddhists who are vegetarians on the 1st and the 15th of the month. They find ways to interpret the teachings in all sorts of ways. But respect for life should be an everyday thing.”
Susan Wu agrees: “We try to make it possible for people to see it that way.” The pair decided that the best way to share their knowledge and good health would entail opening a traditional yet creative Chinese restaurant in the U.S. So Susan Wu earned a Master’s degree in hotel and restaurant management, and through a constant search for the perfect vegetarian tastes, Wu has developed an art that is entirely unique.
Wu notes that a healthy lifestyle must include healthy eating, if our populace is to significantly lower the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart and liver disease, high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes. We hear a great deal these days about the global success of U.S. fast-food brands; what a refreshing reversal to see the healthiest Chinese vegetarian cuisine influencing tastes right in the heart of Pennsylvania. This is especially good news if there is truth to the adage that every veggie burger chosen instead of a hamburger results in six additional hours to a person’s life.
Well, I can tell you one of the most wonderful things of all,” Tong-Yi says: “Our nine-year-old child has never had a cold.”
Children who visit might well be swayed by the “SuTao Burger” — complete with an order of French fries specially prepared to be as healthy as they are tempting. SuTao is open for lunch and supper, with a menu that transforms texturized soy protein into a tender and juicy mock roasted duck. “Our customers who are accustomed to eating meat tell us that our vegetable-based imitations are so good that they cannot tell the difference,” Wu beams. Her pepper steak and lemon chicken, both served at the buffet, have made repeat customers out of meat-eaters. “I do not know whether we are creating new vegetarians,” says Susan Wu, “but vegetarians have told me that coming here has enabled them to stick with the vegetarian diet.”
The buffet also has one of the most attractive and unusual salad bars imaginable, ranging from conventional salad bar fare — fresh greens, corn, olives, shredded beetroot, a variety of beans, carrots and kale — to exotic treats such as a sweet, gingery seaweed and sesame salad, raw potato strings, bean curd with red pepper, kim chi, and cold noodles. Depending on when one visits, the buffet also includes fresh, warm vegetable dumplings with a special sauce, or a boat of sushi that is cut in a unique style — some rolls resembling bouquets with their vibrant sprigs of vegetables. The desserts include a surprisingly light, crispy fried banana dish, and sometimes even a hot “dessert soup” blending taro, coconut, and tapioca beads that resemble translucent black cherries.
Newly renovated, with a friendly, airy feel, this café is one to watch. One thing is certain: SuTao has succeeded in bringing strength to the table instead of succumbing to the pressure to serve animal products. SuTao’s survival depends on a social conscience, and we are delighted to have such a restaurant to recommend to our members residing in or visiting the Philadelphia area.
Hours and directions
SuTao provides catering as well as on-site banquet services with healthy food at an excellent value in a casual atmosphere. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm; Friday to Saturday from 11:30 am to 10:30 pm; and Sunday from noon to 9:30 pm. Telephone: 610.651.8886.
Located in the town of Malvern at 81 Lancaster Avenue (corner of Route 30 and 401), SuTao is less than 30 miles west of central Philadelphia on the suburban Main Line, a route named for the commuter train that runs into the city and is known for its numerous colleges and universities.
Directions from Philadelphia Via I-76 westbound:
Go 15 miles and merge into US-202 south via exit number 328. Go another 8 miles to take the Malvern exit, PA-29 southbound (South Morehall Road) to its end. Turn right on Route 30 west 1/2 mile. Come to intersection of Route 30 and 401. Turn right at the KFC sign or the Great Valley Center sign.
From 476 (Radnor/Villanova/Bryn Mawr area):
From the St. Davids exit (Exit 13) take Lancaster Avenue (Route 30) west about 9 miles to the restaurant. The restaurant is just under 3 miles west of Route 252. At the 401- Route 30 intersection, make a right. Look to your right for the sign for Great Valley Center (or make a right turn into the KFC’s drive — the sign might be easier to spot, and this leads to the same parking area).