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ARCHIVE : Issue Nine


WHITHER ANIMAL WELFARE?

In 1824 an Anglican Cleric, Arthur Broom, called the first meeting which led to the formation of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which, when it eventually got a royal charter, became the RSPCA. He later ended up in prison trying to pay for the Society ’s debts. Since then, branches of the SPCA have opened up world wide, also in South Africa. Unlike Arthur Broom, members of the executive now draw salaries paid for from public funding and often get to go on fully paid for overseas trips. In the 1980 ’s there was allegedly a move by the NSPCA, the governing body of the SPCA’s in South Africa, to take over all the animal welfare bodies in the country. It is said that it cost the various organisations a tidy sum to fight that move -public monies that had to be channelled away from animal welfare. In the early 1990 ’s there appeared to be another attempt by the NSPCA, when it campaigned to be proclaimed a statutory body. According to the debate in parliament, the NSPCA did not see the legislation as giving them powers over animal welfare organisations other than the SPCA branches. Other organisations, however, perceived this as a move towards taking control over all the animal welfare bodies and thus opposed the move. Fortunately, the government at the time apparently did not see fit to dispense with other organisations such as the Animal Anti Cruelty League and Animals in Distress which did good work and furthermore did not consider it necessary for the NSPCA to be declared a statutory body in order to regulate their own branches. So this bid also failed. No one will deny that the SPCA’s do good work, but judging from the way the NSPCA is constantly denigrating the work of other animal welfare organisations, more specifically those that do not have the funds to fight back, one might be forgiven if one were to wonder whether the NSPCA is now once again gearing up to attempt a take over. Perhaps in a bid to monopolise an expected flow of funds from the National Lottery? That would certainly make it worth their while to use the public funds they already have to renew the battle against their “competitors.”


EVEN VIVISECTORS AGREE THE VOLUNTARY CODE OF ETHICS DOES NOT WORK

The South African Veterinary Council (SAVC), which declined to take action against its perjurer André Immelman, says it supports vivisection but that the national code of ethics drafted by role players in animal research is flawed, as only voluntary compliance exists. In this they are supported by Daan Goosen, first managing director of Roodeplaat, front company for the South African Defense Force ’s Biological and Chemical Warfare programme. Goosen was also instrumental in setting up the infamous Centre Africaine Primatologie Experimentale (CAPE) in Mpumalanga. (See also Whatever Happened to Jackie in Snout 2 and 5.) Says Goosen: ‘There is a lot of negligence and these days even unskilled, lay people working in laboratories are allowed to perform tests.’ Goosen, who is vice-president of the South African Association for Laboratory Animal Sciences, says he is often approached by scientists from abroad who want unscrupulous testing performed in South Africa because the same testing is outlawed in their own countries. This apparently did not bother him when he was Managing Director of Roodeplaat, which openly vied for the privilege of conducting experiments for these same people, stating that ‘In South Africa animals are cheap and readily available and public sentiment is rational rather than emotional.’ But then, that was prior to his presumed conversion on the road to Pofadder. Quote of the week came from Keith Ramsay, registrar of livestock improvement at the Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs, who took time off from his deliberations on foot- in-mouth disease to proclaim that ‘while the Department acknowledged a need to move towards proper legislation in the form of an animal welfare Act he believed the national code of ethics used by vivisectors had worked well and self-regulation by ethical vivisectors had been very good.’ Whatever that might mean.



CHRISTIAAN BARNARD - AN ALTERNATIVE OBITUARY

Christiaan Barnard, who died recently while reading a book written by himself, will be remembered for having done the world ’s first heart transplant operation. Not so well known by the general public is his cruel experiments on animals as well as humans. On June 22 1977,a news item from Cape Town reported that a 25 year old woman had died at Groote Schuur hospital two-and-a-half hours after a baboon ’s heart was implanted into her chest. This was done even though on January 12, 1964,Dr.James Hardy of Mississippi University implanted a monkey ’s heart into a 68-year old man and, two hours later, after the patient had died, came to the conclusion that a monkey ’s heart was too small to sustain a man ’s circulation (Heart Transplantation in Man -Journal of the American Medical Association 1964,188,1132-40). Furthermore, Zurich ’s daily newspaper Blick reported on June 24,that during the operation the whole surgical ward of Groote Schuur shuddered to the shrieks of the baboon lady, as her chest was being cut open and heart excised with- out the slightest anaesthesia, because Barnard wanted to give his patient a heart in perfect working order, completely free of any chemicals. Subsequently at Groote Schuur, a further operation was attempted using the heart of a chimpanzee (an endangered species) regardless of the fact that Dr. Hardy had also already demonstrated the inadequacy of a chimp ’s heart. This second unsuccessful transplant was castigated by a South African professor, according to a report from Cape Town that appeared in the Toronto Star on October 15,1977. Barnard himself described how the chimp ’s mate was inconsolable for days afterwards and resolved never to experiment on so sensitive an animal again. Hundreds of dogs underwent the tortures of hell during ghoulish experiments, including a head transplant operation when a second head was transplanted onto a dog. The dog eventually had to be put down as the two heads kept attacking each other. It is to the memory of these innocent victims of a pseudo science that this alternative obituary is written.



NSPCA SLANDERS THE WETNOSE ANIMAL RESCUE CENTRE

T he Wetnose Animal Rescue Centre (WNARC) is a no-kill shelter, one of the very few such shelters in South Africa. Around June 2000,during the attacks on Zimbabwean farmers by so-called war veterans, when farmers had to abandon their burning homes in a hurry, in some cases having to leave their pets behind, there were very disturbing scenes on local television of Zimbabwean farmers ’dogs enduring cruel torture at the hands of the insurgents. (CNN also recently described cases of dogs being hung from farm gates, ponies having their hooves cut off, cows being left unmilked and cows and sheep being hamstrung, all to discourage farmers from returning to their properties). The Wetnose Animal Rescue Centre had been concerned about the fate of the animals in Zimbabwe from the start and when these television shots were screened, Elmine van der Merwe, the vice-President, immediately set about seeing what could be done about rescuing these animals. Now Elmine, a true animal lover, belongs to that rare breed of souls who, while being in full-time employment elsewhere, spends her evenings and week-ends working voluntarily for the Centre. No salaries or overseas trips as perks in return. Nor is Elmine involved in the politics so much in evidence among some animal welfare groups and so it came as a surprise to her that, once Wetnose started the ball rolling to get the animals out of Zimbabwe, the NSPCA suddenly became ‘involved ’and not only did everything in their power to destroy Wetnose ’s initiative, but did a character assassination job on Elmine in the process. But Tracy Forte, the President and Founder of Wetnose, was fortunately made of sterner stuff and worked day and night to obtain the necessary permits to bring the animals into South Africa, only to have the NSPCA trying to stymie their attempts at every turn. When that attempt failed, the NSPCA attacked Wetnose with apparently trumped-up charges about ‘having raised funds on behalf of the ZNSPCA ’in order to milk money from an unsuspecting public. The fact that Wetnose had opened an account in the name of the Wetnose Zimbabwe Animal Rescue Fund did not assuage the ferocious attack on Wetnose by the NSPCA who promptly went on the internet slamming Wetnose and asking that these monies should not go to Wetnose but to the NSPCA/ZNSPCA. Apparently the NSPCA also referred to the WNARC as ‘animal traders ’and spread the rumour that the WNARC was not even a registered organisation (they were in fact registered as a Section 21 -non-profit-organisation and promptly had their books audited by an independent auditor who found every- thing in order). The Snout has seen a letter dated the 11th June 2000, signed by Nadia Marabini, Chair of the Harare SPCA, and copied to Marcelle French, Executive Director of the NSPCA as well as to Meryl Harrison and Brian Nel of the ZNSPCA. In this letter, addressed to Ms Tracy Forte, president of the Wetnose Animal Rescue Centre, Ms. Marabini states: ‘I am sure our National Chairman and National Coordinator will join me in thanking the Wetnose Animal Rescue for the $16 000 odd deposited into Nationals Bank account relating to the plight of Zimbabwean pets.’ So it is difficult to understand how they can say that they never received any of the money. Furthermore, Wetnose was instrumental in arranging for the IFAW to pay in a further donation directly into the ZNSPCA ’s Harare account. Ms Marabini continued her letter by saying: ‘There are many people who are leaving our country and are in a quandary as to what to do with their pets. They know only too well that the amount of ‘good, kind and loving’ homes is rapidly diminishing and do not cherish the prospect of their pets sitting in some SPCA somewhere waiting to be rehomed -or PTS (put to sleep). Many people have already euthanased their pets and it has been heartbreaking for them to do so. Your organisation has come along and offered to uplift Zimbabwean pets to homes in South Africa. To many people, this is a preferred option to a lethal injection -and let ’s face it -they have the right to choose. I adhere to the stand taken by the National Council of SPCA ’s in South Africa and the ZNSPCA in Zimbabwe -the Harare SPCA will not be rehoming SPCA animals to your organisation -like the Wetnose policy, we are responsible for our animals ’lives up to the time of their death. Private negotiations between yourselves and members of the Zimbabwean public is quite out of our hands and the public have the legal right to do with their animals whatever they wish.’ But these facts were not publicly advertised by the NSPCA during their slanderous attacks on the WNARC. Nor did they advertise the sad fact that the WNARC did not hand over to the ZNSPCA/NSPCA all the monies raised, in view of their having received proof of serious allegations against the ZNSPCA regarding the whereabouts of funds which were under the control of the former National Chairman of the ZNSPCA, a certain Mr. Ian Redman. Also, Wetnose them- selves needed the money to fund their rescue operation. In last year ’s upliftment operation Wetnose brought in 59 dogs and 9 cats, all successfully rehomed. To date this year they have carried out 5 rescue flights and two trips to the border. In total this year 25 dogs and 2 cats arrived on the flights and Wetnose received from the farmers, once over the border post, another 32 dogs and 14 cats, thus totalling 57 dogs and 16 cats. There are another 15 dogs awaiting their next rescue flight from Zimbabwe. Some animals, with Wetnose ’s assistance, were brought through by the farmers themselves and left in Wetnose ’s care. At the very time when the WNARC was in Zimbabwe travelling from farm to farm with no regard to their personal safety in order to bring back traumatised animals to South Africa, Mss. French and Harrison of the NSPCA were away on another overseas trip. This obsession about the donations sent to the Wetnose Zimbabwean Animal Rescue Fund again surfaced when the NSPCA, in the April-June 2001 edition of their national newsletter Animals in Focus, put out a defamatory article under the heading ‘Fundraising - don’t be fooled.’ They suggested that all donations towards the Zimbabwe animal rescue should rather be made to the SPCA ’s.Of course. It is difficult to understand the NSPCA ’s continued persecution of Wetnose and their seeming lack of cooperation with smaller organisations who do not have the public funds to spend on lawyers ’fees in order to clear their names. The SPCA is not the only organisation working to help abandoned ‘dogs of war ’and helping these animals is not the exclusive domain of the SPCA. The WNARC was perfectly within its rights to initiate its own campaign together with the ZNSPCA or NSPCA or independently. There are many good people doing good work at the various SPCA ’s and it is a pity that this fact should be marred by the mean spirited petty mindedness which appears to obtain at the NSPCA. If this sort of behaviour is condoned by the entire NSPCA board, then they have some serious fence mending to do. If it is mainly the result of the actions of one or two individuals who have become a law unto themselves, then perhaps the NSPCA should put on the brakes.



CARE GAINS CUSTODY OF CAPE BABOONS

In 1990 the mysterious Centre Africaine Primatologie Experimentale (CAPE) in Hazyview, came to the public ’s attention when the SPCA discovered that the centre had been abandoned by its French masters, leaving wild - caught baboons to starve to death in cages. The SPCA euthanased 122 baboons. In May 2000 this controversial centre with links to the military was once more closed down after the NSPCA found 30 primates in various stages of emaciation. Some of the baboons were at less than 50%of their normal body weight. The baboons which had allegedly been caught in the wild in the Northern Province, had existed on a diet of 6 bananas a day. A showdown loomed between the NSPCA and other organisations such as SAAV, the Wildlife Action Group (WAG) and the Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education (CARE) an established baboon rehabilitation centre in the Northern Province, when seven of the 30 baboons were euthanased with the sanction of the NSPCA without first calling in a baboon expert and exploring other alternatives. Efforts to have the baboons relocated to CARE ’s facility near Phalaborwa were stymied by the NSPCA on the grounds that the facilities at CARE were not adequate for ‘permanent housing ’.CARE pointed out that the NSPCA must have been well aware that CARE did not aim to house the baboons on a permanent basis but their policy was to release the baboons back into the wild. CARE furthermore felt that it was incongruous and counterproductive for the NSPCA to make comments about the facilities at CARE (an organisation dedicated to the welfare and protection of baboons) on the one hand, while on the other, the NSPCA itself, by participating in self- styled ethics committees, endorsed conditions in laboratories where baboons were forced to endure psychological and physical trauma and were placed in small cages, often only lm x lm. CARE was informed on 2 October 2000 by Mrs. Ketane, the control prosecutor for the Mhala magistrate ’s court that Mr. Neil Fraser of the NSPCA had requested the previous week that he be allowed to ‘euthanase ’the baboons at CAPE or, that the State provide funds for their upkeep. Miss Ketane reported that she had told Mr. Fraser that no funds were available from the State, and that the animals could not be euthanased prior to the hearing. CARE was rather puzzled that the presumably cash-strapped NSPCA was nevertheless able to find the funds to fly two ‘experts ’to the Northern Province despite the fact that the director of CARE, Mrs. Miljo, was deemed suitably qualified by the NSPCA to assess the physical and mental condition and behaviour of the animals, and make recommendations for their rehabilitation. Indeed, in a press release dated 14th September the NSPCA referred to Mrs. Miljo as (a) professional and quoted from her report. Eventually, after a court interdict obtained by CARE the baboons were released into CARE ’s custody. It was felt that the baboons could have been spared six months of suffering had the NSPCA not indulged in what was described in an IFAW press release as “shilly shallying.” The baboons were rehabilitated, resocialised and given plenty of food at CARE. Those that were fully recovered were released back into the wild earlier this year while those that remained will be back in the wild before the year is out.


VALIANT DAVID FIGHTS GOLIATH

The Sea Lion Rescue Centre was started 3 years ago as a private initiative to investigate the authorities and welfare organisations involved in killing every stranded seal that beached itself .Our Cape Fur Seals have been a protected species since 1973 in terms of the Sea-birds and Seal Protection Act (Act 46 of 1973).But,ironically,South Africa only suspended clubbing and culling in 1990. In 1999 Francois Hugo from Seal Alert SA became aware that many of these seals were beaching themselves purely due to starvation and, therefore, could be easily treated and rehabilitated. So he started to investigate and ask questions and helping these seals where he could. Francois got the impression that the SPCA Cape of Good Hope, in collaboration with the Department of Environment Affairs (DEAT), Marine and Coastal Management (MCM), Cape Nature Conservation (CNC), SANCCOB, Dolphin Action Group and WWF-SA were involved in either killing the stranded seals or turning a blind eye to the matter. Certainly, Francois ’humanitarian efforts were blocked. As the media started to report on this, the SPCA and MCM appeared to get rather nervous and started to claim that they were treating seals. Francois got the impression that there was a major cover-up. Eventually, two years and many killed seals later Francois, who by now had obtained international support, managed to secure sufficient evidence to take the matter to the Public Protector ’s office. After a 10 month investigation, the Public Protector condemned the DEAT, MCM and SPCA. He suggested that criminal charges might be laid, and questioned whether the SPCA seal rescue permit should not be withdrawn. The present situation is that Cape Nature Conservation is busy driving pregnant females off islands so that their pups drown. Their very presence, never mind their actions, on these islands is unlawful. The MCM has stated in writing that seal welfare and rehabilitation is not their responsibility and has delegated this to the SPCA. But the Public Protector found that such delegation was illegal, as was the CNC activities with seals. Also the SPCA removed seals illegally prior to March 2001.This has been confirmed by a former SPCA inspector who has stated that 99%were routinely destroyed. The SPCA has claimed that it is successfully treating seals, even though there are no seal proto- cols, pools and quarantine periods, with unacceptable facilities, namely housing seals in dog kennels amongst diseased stray dogs. Seals are now being transported in disease infected vans, sometimes with dead distempered dogs, with untrained personnel to a private vet, Dr. Oakley, who has no quarantine facility, no recognised specific seal training, no seal rescue protocols. The SPCA further claims that seals are now being treated at the MCM Sea Fisheries Research facility, where research is done on diseased species. The pool at this facility is used for live seal exports to zoos and aquaria overseas. In three years Francois has not witnessed one seal being effectively treated, rehabilitated and released. Every seal he knows of, taken by the SPCA, appears to have died under inhumane and very suspicious circumstances. The public protector himself was witness to one seal being treated inhumanely and was prevented from witnessing the seal ’s ‘release.’ Francois also wonders how they are managing to kill the seals humanely. None of the vets he knows, can even find a seal ’s vein on an immobile seal, leave alone a struggling 250kg one. One wildlife vet had to do a post mortem just to see if he could find it, after he was advised telephonically by an overseas expert in Francois ’office. Recently on the national television programme 3rd degree, Francois was asked by the head of MCM, Mr. Horst Kleinschmidt, to submit an application to rescue and treat our seals. Kleinschmidt claimed he never received any such application. Which was odd, to say the least, as Francois and Sea Shepherd International have submitted five such applications in the past two years. Kleinschmidt is apparently to be taken to task in this matter by the Public Protector ’s office. Francois is now informed that the SPCA and MCM are building a case file on him so that he can be criminally charged for helping seals without a permit. This despite the fact that MCM ’s lawyer and the Public Protector ’s office are unsure of whether there is even a need to apply for a permit, as MCM says that seal welfare is not their responsibility. Apart from a generous grant from Sea Shepherd International to purchase an inflatable boat, and help revamp his sports fishing vessel, Francois receives no funding. To date the exercise has cost him over R500 000,a fraction of what similar operations cost world-wide. But despite his limited resources and what might be perceived as bullyboy tactics against him, he is continuing in the fight. For such is the stuff that true heroes are made of.

Web: http://www.sealalert.co.za



NSPCA PUBLICLY QUESTIONS CIWF

As is the case with vivisection, the cruel plight of farm animals who go to slaughter is shielded from public view. So it came as a shock when a local television programme screened footage taken at an unnamed South African abattoir during an undercover investigation by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF). Indeed, within half an hour, CIWF did more than any other local organisation to date to bring the cruelties inherent in the meat industry to the public attention. The NSPCA promptly put out a press statement calling upon CIWF to supply details of the location, whether action was taken against the alleged abusers and whether anyone intervened to prevent suffering to these animals. (Odd this, as one would suppose that a simple ‘phone call or e-mail to the CIWF ’s local representative would have sufficed). This brings to mind when SAAV discovered the most cruel conditions under which primates were held at the Pretoria Biomedical Centre (PBMC). As the NSPCA had a representative serving on the Ethics Committee of the PBMC, SAAV wrote to the NSPCA asking whether their representative had actually inspected the conditions there, whether he had put in a report on the conditions and, if so, what action had been taken in the matter. Several written requests went unanswered. Eventually SAAV was able to elicit the following written answer from the NSPCA: “We do not report to other organisations.”



FROM THE SCIENCE CAFE

The Science Café, which was established at Roodeplaat in the Interests of Better Science, was alive with debate about the merits of animal welfare vs animal rights. ‘The truth is,’ deliberated the Erudite Owl, ‘that few people really know the difference between the two, although some, like the former state vet who always puts his mouth where the money is, have even attempted to write essays about it.’ ‘I ’m not sure I know the difference,’ said the Canary, ‘I think animal welfare is where you get sent on overseas trips?’ ‘Not quite,’ responded the Erudite Owl, ‘it depends which animals you ’re talking about.’ ‘I think,’ said Vulture No.1,‘that animal welfare is where you love animals so much that you eat them.’ ‘And now,’ added the Little Bird who had just flown in, ‘there is this rumour that one animal welfare organisation loves animals so much that it wants to take over all the other animal organisations.’ ‘Which reminds me of a dream I had,’ deliberated the Erudite Owl, ‘about coming upon a croquet game. They were all there, the Queen, the courtiers, the hedgehogs who had curled themselves up into croquet balls. But in this case the hedgehogs all had names, peculiar names such as: Drynose, Seal Slammer, Wings Unneeded, Uncaring, to name but a few. And the Queen had the pages turn themselves into mallets with which to slam the hedgehogs through hoops, almost as if she preferred there to be no hedgehogs at all. Of course, the poor pages were just too afraid of her to have their say in the matter. I feel sure they will all have massive headaches today. Then the painters were dragged in and knelt down to receive their orders, muttering ‘Oh dear, Oh dear!’ At which time the a page unfurled his scroll: ‘It is the wish and desire and decree of Her Majesty that from now on all croquet balls are to be painted in her royal colours.’ ‘And where was the King?’ asked the Canary. ‘Oh,he was in the counting house counting the hedgehogs ’money.Not that there was much, but the Queen felt all the money should be kept in her counting house so that they could have double the amount of jam tarts in case the knave stole some again.’ !


EDITORIAL

Over the years, a perception has taken root amongst non-SPCA aligned animal welfare groups that the National Council of the SPCA ’s (NSPCA) has grown arrogant in the extreme and is out to destroy those animal welfare organisations that do not have the funds to defend themselves, unlike the well-heeled NSPCA which is able to employ a full-time lawyer. Whether this perception is correct or not, in our experience, the lack of transparency and accountability which appears to obtain at the NSPCA does not become an organisation which is funded by the general public. Valid written concerns addressed to the NSPCA go unanswered or are eventually replied to with an arrogant ‘we do not report to other organisations.’ One can be forgiven for thinking that perhaps this perception is caused by one or two paid employees at the NSPCA .There seems to be no way to lodge an appeal to the NSPCA board. Requests for the names of the members of the Board are simply ignored. This is unacceptable as one does not expect a publicly funded organisation to operate like a secret society. From time to time bad publicity in the press has highlighted what can be construed as a lack of control at the upper echelons of the NSPCA. There are reports of SPCA branches supplying pets to animal experimentation labs. The most recent case, in Bloemfontein, was slammed by the NSPCA who claimed that such practice was frowned upon by them. But subsequently, in the IRAWA news dated 14th September, 1999 it was clearly stated that ‘The National Board (of the SPCA ’s) informed Prof Fourie that such an agreement (monetary rewards for animals supplied) would again be considered in the future.’ Animal lovers were also out- raged last year when it came to light that an SPCA official confessed to cruelly killing 266 stray animals with a bolt pistol ‘to cut costs.’ To their credit, the NSPCA reacted to this with horror. But the general public might be forgiven for wondering whether the NSPCA, instead of persecuting other organisations who do good work, should not rather spend the time, effort and public funds investigating their own back yard.





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