I got this email from one of my lists and thought since we had a thread pertaining to this a few months ago you guys might be interested. I emailed this moron again too. I hope their system crashes again!
Grebner has one word for animal activists: ‘Fanatics’
By DANIEL STURM
Apparently, Ingham County Commissioner Mark Grebner doesn’t have a lot of
patience for activists who are trying to make the county stop selling animals
from the shelter for research: “They are a “bunch of fanatics,” Grebner
“They’re similar to the right-to-life extremists who occasionally
assassinate a doctor who conducts abortions,” he said in an interview.
Grebner said that the campaign, led by an organization called the Friends of
the Ingham County Animal Shelter, has made elected officials waste time and
energy and added that commissioners are now receiving mail from Detroit,
Alaska and Brazil.
“Those are not my constituents,” said Grebner.
He said e-mails to the county from activists a few months ago were so
voluminous that they crashed the computer system.
Could Grebner be getting carried away?
Possibly. The chief of the county’s management information systems says he
doesn’t recall any lobbying effort that shut down e-mail communication.
Grebner may be confused, too. At least he appeared to be in his attempt to
link FICAS with an organization that he said was linked to a fire at MSU.
“Most of the stuff that FICAS does is under one umbrella with PETA” – People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “PETA was linked to the MSU
Agricultural Hall fire bombing. They haven’t fire bombed me yet, and I’m not
going to be threatened by these people.”
Grebner was apparently confusing two incidents. Earth Liberation Front took
responsibility for the 1999 Agricultural Hall fire. In 1992, a radical group
called the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) took responsibility for freeing
laboratory animals and setting a fire at Anthony Hall. In this second case,
PETA issued a press release on ALF’s behalf, describing the alleged terrible
conditions in which animals were kept.
Responding to Grebner’s accusations, Linda Fausey, the attorney for FICAS,
said the volunteer organization was not involved in criminal acts on the MSU
campus. “It’s getting slanderous. It’s Grebner’s problem if he cannot
distinguish between people blowing up buildings and people rescuing animals.”
Fausey said the real issue was that people wanted to know why pets are being
sold for experiments and why these research facilities aren’t able to raise
their own test animals. Fausey said concerned residents also wanted to know
why Ingham County has tried to “destroy” FICAS, which she called a
productive animal rescue volunteer group.
Friends of the Ingham County Animal Shelter was suspended from doing
volunteer work in February because the shelter director, Roger Fleming,
claimed it had destroyed a “relationship of trust.” Fleming accused the
nonprofit organization’s founder, Allie Phillips, and two other activists of
involvement in a scheme to get back an animal that the shelter had sold for
research. Phillips, an Ingham County assistant prosecutor, was then suspended
and later fired by Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings for her role and unwillingness
The turmoil between FICAS and the shelter began in 2001, when the Board of
Commissioners voted 10-3 to continue releasing animals to research
laboratories for the purpose of medical research. County Commissioner Mike
Severino of Holt, who voted against the practice, supports the animal
activists in their current struggle.
“They’re a bunch of concerned citizens,” he said, defending the group
against Grebner’s accusations. Severino also stated that the shelter
currently violates Ingham County’s animal adoption policy. Resolution 01-111
favors that animals be placed in adoptive homes and made available for
adoption. The option of selling animals to dealers or euthanizing them should
be done only when other efforts fail. But volunteers report several instances
when pets were killed only shortly before adoption groups arrived.
“It becomes very clear that all the problems stem from one source-the shelter’
s director Roger Fleming-because he seems to have a personal vendetta with
Allie Phillips,” Severino said. Severino,and Holt Commissioner John Nevin are
forming a Pound Animal Welfare task force to investigate shelter practices.
However, they haven’t yet managed to convince their colleagues to make the
task force part of the commissioners’ Law Enforcement Committee, giving it
official legal status.
Including Ingham County, there are only eight of the 83 counties in Michigan
sell animals to “Class B dealers” (dealers who also purchase dogs from
unlicensed sellers), who in turn sell them to research facilities. Ingham
sold 26 dogs and 21 cats to these middlemen dealers in 2002.
County Commissioner Lisa Dedden said animal advocates did a good job at
making the Board of Commissioners and the public more aware of such
shortcomings at the shelter, “and I hope they continue calling public
attention to these issues.”
Although Dedden would prefer the complete ban of selling animals to dealers,
she voted in favor of the October 2001 resolution that allowed the practice
to continue, except in instances of product testing because she reasoned that
there was still no political majority for a complete ban.
Too many colleagues, she said, were of the opinion that animals that would be
put to sleep anyway might as well be used for research projects, which might
contribute to our scientific understanding of humans and other animals. “The
resolution was realistically the only achievable step at the time,” Dedden
said. She pointed out, however, that she’s looking into additional reforms,
including a reconsideration of the Ingham County Animal Control’s shelter key
The Capital Area Humane Society’s director, Steven Heaven, said at the
Commissioners’ Board meeting in 2001 that he’d like the county to cease its
practice of selling animals for research. In an interview last week, the
Humane Society’s vice president for development, Gretchen Couraud, confirmed:
“We don’t sell animals for laboratory research.” But not wishing to take a
position in the current debate, she stated, “but we also don’t comment on
the necessity of animal research.”
Animal rights groups have criticized selling pets to Class B dealers, who are
also permitted to buy dogs from unlicensed sellers. Legally, Class B dealers
must purchase from sellers who can prove that animals are raised on their own
premises. But although federal law specifically prohibits the sale of stolen
dogs, the U.S. Agriculture Department has taken little effective action, as
book author Judith Reitman points out.
The sale of pets for medical research is a dying business in the United
States. In large due to the public awareness campaigns of animal rights
organizations such as PETA, the nation’s medical schools increasingly use
bloodless instructional methods over animals for classroom training. And
according to a study published in Academic Medicine only 32 percent of
medical schools reported using dogs or other live animals in laboratory
training in 2001, down from 62 percent in 1994, and 73 percent in 1985.
Severino said he felt “we ought to become a more progressive county.” He
said he will try to educate his colleagues on animal rights issues, to
encourage a majority ban of sales for research. “If we can’t educate them,
then I hope the constituents will do so at the next election in 2004.”
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