RPOA Breaks New Ground in Texas

RPOA Breaks New Ground in Texas

By: Mary Beth Duerler  Date: 10/31/1997 Category: | Animal Legislation | Canine Issues |

"Our mission is to be the leading provider of information and assistance concerning animal welfare problems and public health issues while taking whatever steps necessary to preserve our historic relationship with animals."

In case you haven't heard, there's an insidious cancer creeping across the country called 'animal rights.' Crazy as it sounds, their agenda is to end all use of animals, including pet ownership.

San Antonio has faced a constant onslaught of animal rights initiatives for the past six years. Just a few of the proposals we've stopped to date are

  • A numbers limits change to three instead of five dogs;
  • Mandatory spay/neuter of all dogs and cats;
  • Dog and cat breeder permits; and
  • Door-to-door enforcement on the animal control ordinance.


Organized originally as a dog group, we quickly learned that we'd never be effective without aligning ourselves with clubs that include all species of pets. We can proudly proclaim that we now have 45 pet clubs as members, representing dogs, cats, exotic birds, ferrets, pot-bellied pigs, and reptiles.

Slam Dunk

Four years ago, Donald Barnes, education director of the national Anti-Vivisection Society, returned to San Antonio to lead our local animal rightists when they weren't getting what they wanted. Barnes is a former employee of Brooks Air Force Base who was involved in animal research himself until, he says, he "saw the light." Of national fame, Barnes was a featured speaker at the ninth annual animal rights symposium in Washington DC last year along with Peter Singer, Ingrid Newkirk, Jane Goodall, and others. He's now a member of the board of directors of Voice for Animals, a local animal rights group.

Barnes notwithstanding, in the first four months of this years alone, we've slam dunked the extremists three times.

One RPOA board member actually beat Barnes for a position on the Animal Control Advisory Board, which gave us three positions on the board.

Despite major opposition coupled with the usual misinformation from the animal rights extremists, we got the domestic ferret removed from the prohibited animal list with a unanimous vote from city council.

We lassoed a Fund for Animals Trojan horse that was prancing into town. Fund for Animals, a national animal rights organization, met behind closed doors with the director of the Metropolitan Health District and an influential city council member to work up a proposal for a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in a problem area of the city. The proposal would have made the city a partner with FFA.

Word from city hall was that the proposal was on a fast track and would be approved.

We immediately mailed a Fund for Animals fact sheet to the mayor, council members, veterinarians, the pet industry, the zoo, rodeo, Sea World, the medical and medical research community, and furriers in the area. Thanks to a terrific response from all of these "animal exploiters" (as the animal rights activists call us), the proposal died on the vine and gave us our greatest victory to date. This would never have been possible without the help of every animal interest in the area.

As one councilman friend told us, "Even the medical community is getting upset because of the animal research!"

In January, the Veterinary Medical Association of Bexar County met with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District and offered an alternative proposal to set up and staff a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in conjunction with local animal groups. As a result of that meeting, the Metropolitan Health District applied for and received a $200,000 grant to create an Animal Resource Center to open by September 1, 1997 in an area of great need.

The Center will offer responsible pet ownership education programs, pet adoption services, and a spay and neuter clinic and will serve as a drop-off point for unwanted stray animals. In retaliation, FFA announced that they will start a new mobile spay and neuter clinic known as SNAP II on September 1. SNAP I is operating in Houston. These mobile clinics offer most veterinary services and sell veterinary products.

The Latest Confrontation

Our latest battleground has been the Animal Control Advisory Board. When the third animal rights activist was appointed to the board, we began to get the message that they intended to stack the board. Rachel Zepeda, a board member and president of Voices for Animals has been pushing for revision of the board's bylaws to allow numerous appointed committees with appointees coming from the general public. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out this one! This maneuver has been blocked temporarily, but undoubtedly it will come up again.

Barnes and the animal rights brigade appear at every meeting of the Animal Control Advisory Board to speak. Barnes even chastised the board for not referring to animals in human terms.

The FFA threat was probably the best thing that could have happened to us despite being very time-consuming. For the past six years, RPOA has played Chicken Little, claiming the sky was falling, but few really believed us. They do now!

We're The Experts

All of this has been accomplished because of a hard core group of a dozen or so people - our board of directors. Our organization isn't about egos or personality conflicts. We have a job to do because if we don't solve the animal problems in San Antonio, we'll be mincemeat for the animal rights agenda in the future. We have no time for dissension.

We're planning an advertising campaign to reach the everyday pet owner and anyone else who wants to help solve our local problems. In The Debarking of America, Joe Fulda says: "We have the edge in numbers and the only reason we haven't sent these jokers packing is because we are too busy with our own agendas and too burdened with apathy. If dog lovers and cat people, cattle ranchers, horsemen, and animal enthusiasts all cross the land got together, it would scare the kaboodle out of the activists."

It's time to take back the animal welfare movement. We're the experts, not the animal rights extremists. We're the people who truly care about the humane treatment of animals - unlike the animal rights abolitionists who want to remove them from our lives forever.

About The Author

Mary Beth Duerler's photo
Mary Beth Duerler - President, Responsible Pet Owners Alliance

Member/Volunteer/Partner/Article Writer of the National Animal Interest Alliance.

All Authors Of This Article: | Mary Beth Duerler |
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