AWI Quarterly

Judge Strikes Down Phony "Dolphin-Safe" Label

Judge Strikes Down Phony "Dolphin-Safe" Label

On April 11, 2000, Judge Thelton Henderson of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco ruled against the blatant defrauding of consumers by the U.S. government. The judge struck down the new "dolphin-safe" label for canned tuna fish—a label that is distinctly dolphin unsafe. Judge Henderson questioned the diligence of the Department of Commerce in adequately studying the reason for the lack of recovery of several species of dolphins, hard hit for decades in the eastern tropical Pacific.

Despite the death of over seven million dolphins who were chased, exhausted and netted to catch the tuna schools beneath them, Secretary of Commerce William Daley made a preliminary finding last year that there was no proof that this technique of fishing caused "significant adverse impact." His finding triggered the release of a new, official Department of Commerce "dolphin-safe" label for canned tuna fish. The new label would have been used on cans of tuna caught by harassing dolphins. Judge Henderson essentially voided this fraud and sent the government back to the drawing board. His ruling came in the nick of time, with Mexico poised to flood the U.S. with tons of dolphin-deadly tuna.

Thanks to especially vocal consumers, all canned tuna now sold in the United States is caught without netting dolphins. All three major American tuna importers have vowed to continue the present definition of dolphin-safe and reject the phony label.

Photo, Spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata) are one of the two species most heavily impacted by being chased and encircled by tuna nets in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. (Psarakos/Earthtrust)

Elephant Seals Hot Iron Branded


Elephant Seals Hot Iron Branded

Hot iron branding has caused terrible pain to animals, both wild and domestic. Photographs of branded elephant seals, with hot iron brand marks covering a significant part of the animals' sides (both sides so scientists can read the number easily) were published in the Sydney, Australia Mercury.

According to the March 29th Mercury, "The evidence collected shows the brands have created large weeping and infected wounds on many seals." The Parks and Wildlife Director, Max Kitchell, said, "a significant number of seals were left with horrific injuries which could be life-threatening."

The brandings, part of a 10 year population study, have now been mercifully stopped by the Macquarie Island government.

Random Source Dog and Cat Dealers Under the Microscope

ALTHOUGH NO ACTION WAS TAKEN on the Pet Safety and Protection Act in the last Congress, the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill and the FARM bill were adopted; both include language regarding random source Class B dealers who sell dogs and cats for experimentation.

They call for an independent review by a panel of experts to determine how frequently animals sold by Class B dealers are used, and make recommendations regarding such use. In addition, the Agriculture Committee leadership in both the House and Senate called for a Government Accountability Office study on the subject.

In response to Congress's call for action, the National Academies Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR) formed a committee to "address the use of Class B dogs and cats in research funded by the National Institutes of Health." The 10-member committee representing a broad spectrum of individuals, from vocal opponents of Class B dealers to scientists who purchase and use such animals, is expected to issue its report this spring. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been tasked by Congress to review any recommendations proposed and report how they may be implemented to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

Most of the committee's deliberations have been private, but during two half-day public sessions, an array of people spoke, including Cathy Liss of the Animal Welfare Institute. Liss provided a statement, showed footage from dealer premises, presented extensive documentation and answered questions based on her 28 years of random source dealer experience.

Two representatives from a licensed Class A dealer facility (a breeder of purpose-bred animals), gave an impressive presentation describing their ability to provide a wide variety of animals and services to the research industry. The breeding facility is able to meet the research demands for dogs and adapt as these needs change. Unlike random source dogs, the health status and genetic background of Class A animals is known.

Another detailed presentation was given by a genetic expert on cats from the National Cancer Institute's Laboratory of Genomic Diversity. He described how to breed cats to ensure genetic diversity, emphasizing that it can in fact be done.

The USDA's Animal Care staff gave two separate presentations and has submitted data to the committee. One chart notes that from November 2007 to November 2008, 2,863 dogs and 267 cats were sold by Class B dealers to research facilities. Currently, just 11 such dealers remain. Compared to historical figures, these numbers clearly represent a dying industry.

Recently, Animal Care has revised the manner in which it conducts tracebacks intended to assess the accuracy of dealer records identifying from whom they purchase their dogs and cats.

Tracebacks are an extensive and costly process, yet they cannot provide assurance that the dealers' transactions involving animals were legal. A significant loophole in the AWA is that any person who claims to have bred and raised a dog or cat can sell the animal for profit. Dealers can exploit this loophole knowing it is virtually impossible to disprove their claim.

The suggested machinations to tighten controls and provide oversight of Class B dealers are mind boggling. Based on the evidence provided, it seems inconceivable that the committee can justify a research need on scientific grounds to use any dogs and cats obtained from these dealers. While the vast majority of researchers get their animals from other sources, it is time for the foot-draggers to follow suit.

Dogs at a Class B dealer facility.

One Family's Crusade to Help Primates

One Family's Crusade to Help Primates

n the outskirts of Santiago, Chile, in a suburb like that outside major cities the world over, lives a very special family dedicated to helping primates. Beyond two huge gates, past five or six small and incredibly affectionate dogs, and through Elba and Carlos Almazan's own home is a refuge for 91 monkeys: Siglo XXI (21st Century), a center for the rescue and rehabilitation of primates.

Elba Munoz Almazan treats all the monkeys in her care as though they were her children, bestowing upon them endless love and affection.
Pro Wildlife

Siglo XXI provides permanent sanctuary for primates rescued from the illegal pet trade in South America or who are currently living in deprived conditions in captivity. The monkeys come from, or are destined for, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and, of course, Chile. Sometimes gypsy families abandon these animals, or they are confiscated from laboratories. Tamarins, squirrel monkeys and woolly monkeys, are among the inhabitants at the sanctuary.

Monkeys at the facility are housed in a huge backyard city of linked enclosures that provide escape routes for animals who wish to be alone but also present an opportunity for companionship when it is sought. Baskets hang or rest within arms reach of the outside of the enclosures offering ready access to fruits and vegetables, especially cut apples. Inside the enclosures are toys, hanging tire swings, and even hammocks for the enjoyment of the sanctuary's residents.

Twin veterinarians make house calls to heal the animals, many of whom need serious medical attention from wounds suffered as a result of horrible transport conditions or cruel laboratory settings. The work is done right inside the house.

Siglo XXI educates the public about primate welfare, conservation issues, and in particular the inherent cruelty of the illegal trade and keeping primates as pets. The subject is of great interest to the Chilean public, and Siglo XXI has received much media coverage for their laudable work. School visits to the center are popular as well.

Unfortunately, the limited space of the sanctuary site meant that Siglo XXI could not cope with the demand by schools and colleges for greater visitation. As well, they ran out of space to satisfy the number of animals in need of a home-especially urgent since Mr. and Mrs. Almazan have pledged to help house additional confiscated pet and circus primates.

Animals at Siglo XXI share time with each other as they pick through the regularly stocked baskets of fruits and vegetables.
Adam M. Roberts/AWI

Thus, the couple has undertaken an ambitious expansion project. A beautiful new sprawling plot of land has already been bought to continue their vital work, and they have begun building the enclosures there.

Mr. Almazan is a practicing pediatrician who invests much of his earnings into the rescue center-he and his wife fund the ongoing care for the animals at a cost of about $3,000 a month. Additional funds are needed, however, for the enclosure construction at the new site. AWI has provided assistance for the erection of a security fence on the perimeter of the new property, which will run along a small river.

Without Siglo XXI there is no appropriate sanctuary in Chile available for these needy primates. If you would like to help ensure that the new facility is fully operational, please send a check payable to AWI with a note in the memo line: "for Siglo XXI." All donations will be sent to the sanctuary together. For additional information contact


Syndicate content