PETITION

TO NMFS, USDA, APHIS TO CLOSE US DOLPHIN ASSISTED THERAPY PROGRAMS

WE THE UNDERSIGNED oppose the operation of Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT) programs within the United States as both a danger to human participants and a criminally deceptive scam.

The DAT industry was forced to admit what recent scientific studies proved: that exposure to dolphins presented no measurable or lasting relief from a variety of maladies, including autism or Down syndrome. Studies involving brainwave monitoring showed that swimming with dolphins has no more relaxing effect on the human brain then interaction with domestic animals or pets, or even just taking a warm bath. Yet DAT's typically charge hundreds of dollars for even an hour of interaction. Complaints to the USDA have involved families who have lost thousands of dollars or even mortgaged their homes to pay for the un-guaranteed, non-refundable dolphin-healing sessions that provided no relief, making this one of the best-kept secret scams of our time.

As if this weren't bad enough, dolphins in captivity do not show the same benevolence towards humans that is common in the wild. In fact, when confined to small restrictive spaces and behavior is forced upon them, dolphins become increasingly aggressive, often grabbing a foot, biting a leg or arm or throwing their powerful bodies against those nearby. Although the incidents are grossly underreported by DAT's, these powerful "swim-with" dolphins daily cause shattered backbones, broken arms or ribs, as well as serious cuts and lacerations from dozens of razor sharp teeth. In 1985, the National Marine Fisheries Service gave DAT regulation authority to the USDA under the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), but in April 1999, the USDA suspended Animal Welfare Act enforcement of the swim-with-the-dolphin programs, claiming a need to "review" new regulations. Since then, there has been no regulation of DAT's for either human-dolphin interaction or dolphin safety, allowing this dangerous and lucrative scam to thrive. We believe the USDA and APHIS are in violation of several animal welfare and public health and safety laws and that all DAT facilities must be closed immediately.

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Return this petition to the New York Whale and Dolphin Action League, PO Box 273, Yonkers, NY 10707.