Fortnightly Commentary No 32: 7th June, 2013

Dear Members and Friends,

Came to the USA to renew my India visa. Phew, that’s done.  While here I am super lucky to be making a presentation about my own animal organisation to a group of 150 Americans at a fundraising event in San Diego (this very evening!) Many will come to the event because they are friends of the organizer. Some will come because they want to see the performance of our celebrity guest singer. A special few will come because of the animals.

Our friendship with the man organizing the event pre-dates my family’s animal activism. When he read the speech I intend to give, he scoffed a little at the language he considered flowery and not casual or lighthearted enough.  I realized that for him, this fundraiser has more to do with "personality" than with "cause." I think in his opinion my speech will be a bigger hit if I share with the audience the fact that I have eaten so much during the past 2 weeks that I can’t button my saree blouse.

My friend was worried that our presentation might show "gory" images from factory farms or slaughterhouses. To animal eaters the images of the slaughterhouse or the chained cow often seem "sensationalistic" and "in poor taste." The emotion of the animal activist sometimes seems exaggerated or "over the top." The event organiser objected to our showing a "before" photo of a dog with a maggot wound on his face in a medly of 100 images of happy animal shelter life, "while people are eating."

If the advisory not to show painful images during mealtime is right, it ought to be because it may disrespect the animal who suffered so. Not because it upsets delicate constitutions.
I may mention this if my blouse isn’t too tight for me to speak.

Congratulations Timmie Kumar for being awarded being the "Lifetime Achievement Award for Animal Welfare" by Humane Society International. This was given to Timmie recently at the animal care expo in Nashville, USA. This is well deserved recognition for Timmie, who has ably led Help in Suffering, Jaipur, a leading name in the Indian animal community. We are proud to have Timmie as one of our Trustees.

Fruits of Collaboration…
Prashanth writes: Fruits of collaboration surpassed the limits of local federations last week with support coming from various, previously unforeseen quarters. Movement towards raising corporate awareness in Pune found support from the newly launched Living Free campaign and model colony in Jaipur from a model eco village in Andhra Pradesh. All this, while I plan my next visit to Thrissur and Jaipur, for the elephant and legal awareness events respectively.
PFAPO also welcomes new members- ResQ, and more individuals- into its group. Finally, we are all looking forward to the movie screening for children that KFAPO is co-organising with Social Access Communications on the occasion of World Oceans Day. We are excited about young minds hearing the story of Lt. Cdr. Abhilash Tomy- the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe- and be inspired about conservation of oceans and its creatures.

Pune FAPO's member, PFA Pune – is creating a unique shelter – a shelter made of plastic and glass bottles! Good luck to them, our best wishes on their launch – a place of justice, for animals and the environment.

Last week we complained to the authorities at Nandankanan Zoo in Orissa, who were keeping a wild tiger that had strayed into their zoo – captive. News is he jumped an 18 foot enclosure to escape from his prison. Well done, tiger.

Living Free…
Bikramadittya writes: The much awaited information portal was launched by the prominent spiritual leader Gurudev Shri Chitrabhanu yesterday. This portal, aimed to end cruelty to animals, is a comprehensive informational resource about practices of raising animals and the toll it takes on the well being of the animals, the humans and the planet. Please visit the website and let your friends know about it. The Living Free information booklets are also waiting to be dispatched. Send a mail at to get your copies. You can also order your copies through the website.

The Karnataka Goverment has a misinformed plan – giving milk for free to children once a week. Meanwhile, in Tamil Nadu, people have no way of knowing what’s in their milk And in Hyderabad, meat and milk carry bacterial infections

Delighted to hear, that undergraduate medical students will no longer be using animals in their experiments!

On behalf of our members, and joining other voices, FIAPO complained to the Editor in Chief of Times of India, The Press Council of India and The Advertising Council of India about the misinformed advertisement published in TOI captioned "Street Dogs Are Menace!" which suggested that street dogs are a threat. In response, TOI has apologised and agreed never to publish the ad again. Excellent!

Frightening news from Chennai – the Chennai Corporation has proposed to build 15 municipal run shelters, housing 2000 dogs each! Such shelters will not only be illegally relocating dogs, but they are are condemning 30,000 dogs to a life away from their own community. Please take action here and send off a complaint now if you havent already

In focus: Indian Society for Animal-Human Welfare (iSAW)
iSAW is a group of driven individuals actively working for human and animal welfare in Nagpur since 2005. Apart from numerous animal health camps and awareness building activities for school children, iSAW is also active in wildlife conservation.  They also run an animal clinic and have ongoing programmes for sparrow conservation, for working animals and more.

Last week I had lunch with a Seattle-based animal activist. His friend Jerry came too. I had never met Jerry, and a few minutes into the conversation he revealed that a few weeks ago his beloved partner died when a drunk driver crashed into her head-on driving the wrong way on a freeway, and began to weep. I said "It was Morgan? I KNOW Morgan!"

But in fact I don’t really know her. I only feel that I do. Morgan was the mother-in-law of my friend's son. This is a big coincidence. I see Morgan’s possessions accumulating in the house I’m staying in, preparing for a garage sale when strangers can come looking for a bargain. Photographs of her are placed carefully on the bureau.

I am certain she would have considered us lucky— we who grieve and fight for the lives of our fragile friends in the streets and behind the bars of factory farms and research labs. So often we are weary, irritable, angry, sad. We forget to love our allies. Even in the midst of our problems, I know Morgan would have thought we have a tremendous gift. I know it because she had a radiant smile. She was a vegan. She revered life.

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

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams

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