Animal Matters. No 26: 15th March, 2013

Animal Matters. No 26: 15th March, 2013
Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations

Fortnightly commentary going out to circa 1700 people
www.fiapo.org; (+91) 11 4554 8193; mail@fiapo.org

Dear Members and Friends,

Diane Arbus was a famous international photographer known for her sensitive, startling images of people who are on the very furthest edges of "average." She said of her work about photographing the disabled (who at that time were referred to as "freaks"): "Freaks was a thing I photographed a  lot…There's a quality of legend about freaks. Like a person in a fairy tale who stops you and demands that you answer a riddle. Most people go through life dreading they'll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They've already passed their test in life. They're aristocrats."

I was always fascinated by the extent to which people with disabilities permitted Diane Arbus to enter their lives and photograph them, producing stunningly intimate images.  One of her reviewers said of Arbus's work: "No one can go into the street tomorrow and take a Diane Arbus photograph. That would be merely adjusting a lens and pressing a button. What made her pictures great was everything that happened before she pressed the button."

This has a lot of personal meaning to me about the work FIAPO does. We all want to celebrate the victories of law improvement, enforcement; stats gathered, goals achieved, animals' pain relieved. As important as that is, we also need to remember all the quiet phone calls, the support gestures, the hours of looking at lists, bumping along on trains and buses to meet other activists, waiting in municipal corporation offices, exchanging smiles with a "rival" at a FIAPO workshop and discovering she's not your rival but your friend.

All of this is movement building. It's what happens "before she presses the button."
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FIAPO welcomes a new member of staff this week. Prashanth V, joins us to work on movement building to support the local federations and our members. Prashanth was most recently working with communities in various parts of India to reduce human-wildlife conflict and you can contact him on prashanth@fiapo.org Meanwhile, we are looking for campaign coordinators for campaigns of farm animals, veg outreach and a communications coordinator for farm animal issues (3 different posts). Apply today http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12403
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Fruits of Collaboration…
Prashanth writes: A first visit to Jaipur, and to the world of local federations – both of them embraced me with similar warmth (thankfully, it wasn't summer yet!), and within no time I was treading along, exploring their avenues. I met snake rescuers, dog carers and many others, who didn't always agree with each other, but found common ground to work together. JFAPO has decided to create model colonies – for animals, humans and the planet, starting with Shayam Nagar. Kicking off with a drive to tackle the problem of cows eating plastic, the future looks promising. The visit was a lot of fun too- leafleting for promotion of cruelty free cosmetics and bonding over chaap. Some photos here https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.587866354575869.1073741828.120832497945926&type=1&l=2e27b0c242
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EU has banned cosmetics with ingredients tested on animals. This puts pressure on other countries-  like India – to follow suit. However, New York Times reports on a loophole – "companies still could use ingredients from tests on animals as long as the tests were carried out for non-cosmetic products like pharmaceuticals or chemicals." http://fiapo.org/view_art.php?viewid=12420
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Here's an excellent resource doing the rounds – documentaries for improving your understanding of animal protection issues. Videos are the quickest ways of getting a brief glimpse into different worlds, and alternative documentaries, break out dependence on mainstream media. See http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12417
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Recently, we wrote to the editor of HT Mumbai in response to an article about a public drive against street dog feeders in Mumbai, appraising him of the fundamental duty of every citizen in India to show compassion to all living creatures and urged the publication to spread awareness and sensitise the public about the rights of street dog feeders and the related laws that protect them. More here http://www.fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12415
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Baywatch…
Puja writes: Last week we ran our first outreach event 'Ride for Dolphins' in support of the campaign to save dolphins from captivity in India. It was a two day event, attended by both locals and tourists, where we screened the documentary "The Cove', had a group discussion about the issue and shared ideas on how we can sensitize others to the plight of captive dolphins. The highlight of the event, was an awareness cycle ride across north Goa. Thanks to a wonderful group of enthusiastic volunteers and event partners who went out of their way to make our event a success. Our most outstanding volunteer Sarvesh, a local youth who has been mobilizing his village to clean up street garbage , was so moved by the documentary that he has taken it upon himself to sensitise the local fisherfolk and dolphin tour operators. With great press coverage we hope to do many more such events across the country. See http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12412
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In about 8 days, I will be joining many others across India and turning my lights off too for Earth Hour. Its astounding how many people – 1.8 billion – have participated. It gives me hope that our cause is no longer a minority one. http://fiapo.org/view_art.php?viewid=12421
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When we heard of an insecticide that turns a cockroach into a living host to attract other cockroaches and similarly infect them, causing a large number to perish in a chain reaction, we immediately got in touch with Godrej questioning the impact of their newly launched product, an anti – roach gel on household pets and street animals. See http://www.fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12416
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Humane Society University course ‘Introduction to Animal Welfare' is available free-of-charge until May 1st. It's a self-paced course, and easy for students to take from anywhere in the world. It contains background information all about animal welfare – a good grounding. See http://humanesocietyuniversity.org/academics/sce/courseinfo/coursepage.aspx?id=530&ctg=&name=&loc=Online
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In focus: International Animal & Birds Welfare Society (IA & BWS)
In March 1997 a small group of young animal lovers began the IA & BWS-Guttur. Their aim was to make a profound and lasting impact on the lives of suffering animals and to protect the environment for the sake of animals. Now, IABWS has helped tens of thousands of dogs in hundreds of villages and works closely with local communities to encourage a better human-animal relationship. See http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12418
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"There was an old woman who lived in a shoe; she had so many children she didn't know what to do." I have composed a couple of lines to add to this old nursery rhyme: "She tried to build a second floor so everyone would fit; But when she had the triplets that didn't help a bit".

The gaushalas too, are full to capacity. We don't need more gaushalas half so much as we need fewer cows. And most of us recognize that pet adoption programs are meaningless without educating people about pet sterilization, ABC and curtailing dog breeding. And so, every rescuer, every gaushala supporter, must take a population reduction stance, or else we will be putting out fires while handing out match boxes.

The old woman who lived in the shoe needed birth control – not a bigger shoe. Taking on too much at the wrong end of the help spectrum is something many of us fall prey to in our instinct to react to the suffering animals and their problems we see standing before us. Preventing their causes takes patience and long-term political strategizing. We must prevent the production of these animals. If we succeed, we won't need to prevent their destruction. Until we get this equation right, we will face a sea of animals dying from starvation if not from the butcher's knife.

Help animals in your own way; remember – no action is too small.

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams

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