Saturday, December 27, 2008

We must decrease animal populations

Thomas Paine's Corner



So-called “no-kill” policies at the local shelter may make euthanasia numbers look good, but they put animals in grave danger when needy dogs and cats for whom there is no room are turned away, condemning them to unknown and often-terrible fates away (“overburdened with cats, shelter makes plea, “The Daily Star, Nov. 4).

Animals who are rejected from shelters that are already a last resort for people faced with re-homing their companions are often dumped on the streets where they starve, contract diseases and are hit by cars; remain with people who don’t want them and keep them chained or locked in cages; or worse. And animals who are accepted into “no-kill” shelters may be caged indefinitely, becoming depressed, withdrawn or aggressive, and even less adoptable. PETA’s office routinely receives heartbreaking complaints about massive warehouses filled with unadoptable animals who sit hopelessly for years on end, in cages and runs meant to house them for just a few transitional days.

“Free to a good home” ads are also a frequent torture and death sentence. Many unscrupulous individuals obtain animals through ads and sell them to laboratories, use them as “bait” for dogfights or torture them.

Giving animals away and slamming the door in their faces when there is no more room aren’t solutions to the overpopulation crisis. Spaying and neutering are. Please, help reach the day when there is a loving home for every animal by boycotting breeders and pet shops and adopting animals from shelters, and always spaying and neutering. To learn more, visit

Daphna Nachminovitch
Norfolk, VA

Nachminovitch is vice president of the cruelty investigations Department for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.


Dear Daphna Nachminovitch:

I read your letter to the editor today posted in yesterdays Oneonta Daily Star. While I agree with the litany of wrongs to animals you list, I mostly disagree with your conclusions and have written a letter in rebuttal to the editor.

Let me tell you a little about myself in respect to PETA. I was an avid supporter of PETA for several years. I wrote many letters on behalf of animals in causes brought to light by PETA. I learned much from PETA and eventually wrote letters on behalf of PETA and PETA’s “Ask Carla” column. In a Christmas universal note to friends, almost none of whom were animal rights advocates, I wrote that Ingrid Newkirk should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

My disagreement with your letter has a personal aspect to it. About four years or so ago I got involved as a volunteer for a local shelter. It wasn’t long before I learned it was a kill-shelter and that they were unnecessarily euthanizing (killing) cats. I waged a terrific battle against this shelter and statistically proved that my accusations were true. About this time I began getting hints that PETA would not have backed me up and would not have been on my side if I had needed to call on PETA to ask for help in fighting this shelter. Not long after that I learned about PETA’s euthanasia program which I found repugnant and repulsive.


While I continue to admire the work that PETA does, the only way that I could register my opposition PETA’s euthanasia program was to drop out of PETA and stop supporting it. That is what I have done.

Because your letter criticizes no-kill-shelters and by inference supports kill-shelters it is especially important for me to present my disagreement with your position. There are far too many kill-shelters around and the last thing this area needs is the kind of support your letter represents.


I am attaching my letter below to the Oneonta Daily Star for your information in the event you have not read it.

Yours truly,

David Irving


I greatly admire PETA’s many accomplishments for animals. However, PETA’s Daphna Nachminovitch’s letter criticizing no-kill shelters in the Nov. 29th Daily Star is limited in its perspective. Granted, the world can pose many dangers and much suffering for animals. The same may be said of human beings in places like Iraq, Dafur, Kenya, and also in the United States. Shall we kill human beings to save them too? Einstein said our task must be to widen our circle of compassion to include all living creatures if we are to break the bonds of isolation that imprison us. Serious animal rights advocates who do recognize the close bond and affinity between all species must ask by what authority one presumes to make a life and death decision over another living creature without its consent.

Unfortunately, the solution for the perils and suffering animals face as well as for humans is available only to the extent to which human beings agree to create a solution. The answer to the exploitation, abuse, and cruelty that lands many animals in shelters, however, must not be to kill the victims. That runs contrary to the ideals from which better solutions need to be found. While certain conditions exist in which death can only be a welcome relief for animals and humans both, to otherwise put oneself in the position of judging who lives or dies is an enormous ego conceit the type of which human beings embrace far too easily without really exploring the depths of the issues.

Besides these concerns, many people take stray animals into their homes. Trap, neuter and release and other programs also help. Many of these wonderful animals would be killed if kill-shelters had their way. No-kill shelters represent a much more circumspect and hopeful direction for the future.

David Irving is an animal rights activist who has written numerous essays defending our non-human brethren. His novel in progress, ‘In the Shadow of the Innocents,’ focuses on vivisection. He has written short stories, fairy tales, and just completed a novel about the 14th century mystic Meister Eckhart. David is also an accomplished musician and composer who has played French horn with ensembles like the Oakland Symphony and San Francisco Ballet. His compositions have been performed in the US and Europe. For further information see Irving is Cyrano’s Journal Special Contributing Writer for Animal Rights, Speciesisim and Human Tyranny over Nature.

To further your sociopolitical education, strengthen your connection with the radical community, and deepen your participation in forming an egalitarian, just, ecological, non-speciesist and democratic society, visit the Transformative Studies Institute at and the Institute for Critical Animal Studies at


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