From: M.Donker
Date: Tue, 20 Sep 2005
To: "Bell, Jason"
Subject: Reflections on SA Seal rescue funding

Dear Mister Bell,

As former general manager of a Dutch community mental health center I recognize some similarities with animal welfare organizations. The work requires a defined level of funding, compassion, commitment and stability to be effective. I see significant differences between the sectors in funding and stability that are lacking in animal welfare. Animal workers tend to have a short fuse as they work their but off as volunteers or rock bottom paid employees, frustrated by the endless flow of abandoned or abused animals. I know a few people who spent their fortune on the stray problem, now ending their lives in peace and poverty.
I am saddened to note that animal welfare suffers under these financial and emotional problems as the fabric of the animal network is damaged too often by “power play” divisions and coalitions, draining the energy and impairing the efficiency of the work. In my experience power games – where personal or political motives displace the goals of the organization – always turn out to be destructive.

At this moment I am involved in the S.A. Seal situation and informed on the Marchig Trust request to financially support Seal Alert.
I have read the extensive background information on this situation from Seal Alert. I come to the conclusion that Mr. Hugo is successful in rescuing abandoned and deliberately maimed seals against all odds. With good reason he rescues more seals single handed than the million dollar Dutch seal rescue centre of Lenie ‘t Hart or probably any other rescue centre. A feat that deserves respect, sympathy and consequently support. If his offshore methods are unorthodox but effective, why not? I know that in some circles Mr. Hugo is seen as lacking diplomatic qualities. If so, his diplomatic qualities might well have been eroded by the obstruction of his efforts to rescue seals in those same circles. Whatever such feelings are, they should not interfere with a professional assessment of his work.

I have taken note of the IFAW objectives as described on IFAW email:
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - ) works to improve the welfare of wild and domestic animals throughout the world by reducing commercial exploitation of animals, protecting wildlife habitats, and assisting animals in distress. IFAW seeks to motivate the public to prevent cruelty to animals and to promote animal welfare and conservation policies that advance the well-being of both animals and people.
In my opinion all mentioned objectives in this description fit the request to support Seal Alert. Given the emotions that are clouding this subject I hope that you will come to a decision on this matter soon. Please inform me on the proceedings.

With kind regards,
Marius Donker