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Summer 2007 - Act•ionLine

by Priscilla Feral | Summer 2007

In My View

We've just turned 50. Time to rest on our laurels, right? Well, we are at a time when many advocacy groups announce how much they’ve accrued, often by absorbing smaller groups in financial mergers that present safe and perhaps even lucrative opportunities.

And we are presently engaged in two mergers. But these are neither safe nor lucrative: Both of these smaller non-profits need help. Their assets aren’t financial. Their wealth is the dedication and the daily assistance they provide to animals. 

California ’s Whale Rescue Team, led on its daily calls by Peter Wallerstein, has operated on a shoestring for years while bigger and showier groups receive most of the donor support. Usually the team is freeing animals from gear left in the water by commercial fish marketing interests; sometimes they’re saving a sea lion from choking on a plastic bag. Today the team faces much larger dangers: The rapid blooming of algae, possibly a result of rising sea temperatures, is causing a toxic disease in marine mammals, fish, and sea birds. The team, which works along with supportive lifeguards to catch animals for rehabilitation, has become overloaded with rescue work and cannot do the fundraising necessary to back this daily effort.

Strengthened by our member's support, Friends of Animals came to the rescue of the rescuers. We’ll be formally announcing a merger with the Whale Rescue Team within the next few weeks. If you have e-mail, write to us and we’ll get you added to Peter Wallerstein’s list so you can see the team at work. You’ll get about one message a day, with a photo, a few words about the emergency call, and the likely rehabilitation outlook for the animal.

That’s one of the best things about the Whale Rescue Team, the commitment to rehabilitate and set animals free. The point is not to keep rescued animals, but to fix the problems they face due to human interference in the marine ecology, then let them go about the business of living in their natural coastal habitat.

Our new collaborative ties to the Whale Rescue Team follow just after the news of our merger with Primarily Primates, a 75-acre Texas refuge that has accepted cast-off animals for almost three decades. Unlike most of the Whale Rescue Team’s animals, most of the sanctuary residents do need permanent shelter. They have been used in experiments or entertainment, or traded as pets. The point of Primarily Primates is to guarantee lifetime care in a safe, private setting.

The caregivers and staff of Primarily Primates have weathered years of debilitating litigation. At one point, an animal-protection group actually sued by claiming private refuges for non-native animals couldn’t legally exist in Bexar County, where the site is. It would have been easy to ignore the sanctuary’s problems and avoid the turmoil of litigation; many groups did just that. But we couldn’t walk away. Beginning this year, the sanctuary staff are Friends of Animals employees. And thanks to your support, we can ensure that their needs are met, so that these dedicated people can meet the needs of hundreds of nonhuman primates and other animals who depend on them every day.

We are, at our fifty-year mark, activists on the move. More than ever we are providing direct assistance to address the immediate, tangible problems humans have caused for other animals.

By investing in our work, you empower us to bring advocacy and assistance to where it’s critically needed. Equally important, you provide Friends of Animals the strength to remain independent of the pressure of those who’d be more comfortable if we’d compromise. Other animals cannot sit down at the tables where agreements are ironed out, and we won’t barter their interests to advance our popularity or our financial standing. Apart from the requests in our magazine, we engage in little self-promotion, fanfare or fundraising. And though we are growing, we do so in the interests of animals who need serious advocacy, not so we might boast of being large or wealthy.

We aren’t offering any toys or shirts in exchange for your kind investment and your dedicated optimism. We’ll show you that your support is appreciated by continuing to act as true advocates.

My sincere thanks,

Priscilla Feral

Act•ionLine Summer 2007

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