Trump Placed Hold on Decision to Allow Elephant Trophy Imports But Still Allows Lion Trophy Imports

It is with great dismay that I read of the Trump administration’s decision to allow importation of lion and elephant trophies. Lions and elephants are classified as ‘threatened’ which means they are likely to become endangered (become extinct in all or part of their normal habitat) soon. The ban was put in place in 2014 because the populations of endangered and threatened species in Zimbabwe and Zambia are dropping due to poaching, game hunts and loss of habitat. Zimbabwe is where the beloved Cecil the lion was killed. He was lured out of a national park for a so-called “game hunter”, Walter Palmer, to kill. These countries also allow ‘lion hunting’ which means shooting confined lions who are acclimated to humans. This is not hunting as the animals do not have any chance of escape.

‘Serengeti Elephants’ taken by Kristen Nelson

The argument made by the hunting industry is that big game hunting brings money to the local communities. According to Richard Leakey of Kenya Wildlife Service, the amount of money generated by killing wildlife is minuscule compared to the millions generated by tourists coming for ecotourism. I was fortunate to go on safari in Tanzania this year. Seeing the animals living in their native habitats was amazing. Based on the number of tourists I saw on safari, I sincerely believe what Mr. Leakey is reporting. The animals are worth far more alive than dead.

On Friday, President Trump said he would halt the import of elephant “trophies” pending his personal review. Unfortunately, he did not halt the importation of lion “trophies”. The Trump family appears to be divided on this issue. Although President Trump has expressed disgust over game hunting, two of his sons have gone on big game hunts in Africa. Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, has been campaigning for several important animal issues including providing therapy dogs for veterans, saving wild horses and burros from slaughter and tighter regulation of puppy mills. Hopefully, she will take up this issue as well.

‘Ngorongoro Crater Lions’ taken by Kristen Nelson

If you care about the ethical treatment of animals and helping Zimbabwe and Zambia care for their greatest natural resource, please express your opinion to the White House, US Fish & Wildlife Service and our Interior Department. Please join me in asking President Trump to please keep the ban in place on importation of elephant and lion “trophies”. Keeping these magnificent animals alive is the right thing to do.


– Eilperin, J & Gearan, A. ‘Trump face public and private pressure to halt elephant hunting trophy imports.’ WASHINGTON POST, 11/18/17, 6:12PM




A Tribute to Fozzie the Scottsdale Crisis Response Dog

Fozzie, the Scottsdale Crisis Response Dog died last month. This golden retriever responded to all kinds of crimes providing comfort to people suffering from psychological trauma. From homicides to school shootings and everything in between, Fozzie was there ready to help. His big brown eyes and wagging tail were simply irresistible!

Photo: Jim Vail

Animal-assisted therapy came about after studies showed that spending time with animals decrease blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol and triglyceride levels in humans. According to his bio, Fozzie was the first full-time crisis response dog in America. He was trained by Paws With A Cause and donated to the Scottsdale Police Department where he worked for ten years. Service dogs are also being used in airports, courtrooms, schools, libraries, hospitals and with our military to reduce stress.

Hanna and Topaz help Fozzie celebrate his first anniversary with dog-friendly cupcakes. Photo: Jim Vail

Fozzie will be greatly missed by many citizens and officers of the Scottsdale Police Department. He lived life to the fullest bringing his own special furry love to all he met. Rest in peace Fozzie.

Fozzie with volunteer, Jim Vail


-Friedmann, E. et al, Social Interaction & Blood Pressure:  Influence of Animal Companions. J of Nervous and Mental Disease 17 (8): 461-465.

-Morse, Samantha. ‘Scottsdale POlice bid farewell to beloved 10-year veteran, Fozzie’, SCOTTSDALE INDEPENDENT, November 2017.

-Seigel J.M., Stressful Life Events and Use of Physician Services Among the Elderly:  The Moderating Role of Pet Ownership. J. Person Soc Psych 1990; 1081-1086.

-Serpell, J.A. Evidence for long term effects of pet ownership on human health, Pets, Benefits and Practice, Waltham Symposium 20, April 19, 1990.