“600 Million” tried to tell the cofounder of the Indian national Animal Birth Control program that there are street dogs in India
NEW DELHI, India; POMPANO BEACH, Florida––A brighter and less brazen huckster than Alex Pacheco, 65, founder in 1998 of 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You, might have thought twice about putting the hustle on Maneka Sanjay Gandhi.
Most hucksters familiar with Maneka Sanjay Gandhi’s work and no-nonsense reputation would have thought twice and then not done it.
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Only two years Alex Pacheco’s elder, but active in public life and on behalf of animals for seven years longer, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi has served in the Lak Sabha, the Indian parliament, for all but five years since 1989.
During that time, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi has served six Indian federal governments as a cabinet minister, usually with animal welfare among her responsibilities.
During her brief time outside public office, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi in 1992 founded People for Animals, the first and still the largest national animal advocacy organization in India.
Animal Birth Control
Further, with Chinny Krishna, chairing the Blue Cross of India since 1964, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi was architect of the Indian national Animal Birth Control program introduced in 2003.
Even a complete stranger, therefore, might reasonably assume that Maneka Sanjay Gandhi knows quite a bit about street dogs in India and animal birth control techniques
Despite all that, one Helen Davis, self-identified as “Volunteer Coordinator, 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You,” undertook on September 6, 2023 to “educate” Maneka Sanjay Gandhi on behalf of Alex Pacheco and his organization.
“India is experiencing a severe overpopulation of stray dogs”
“Dear Maneka,” the electronic hustle opened. “India is experiencing a severe overpopulation of stray dogs, with an estimated 35 million dogs roaming the streets in desperate conditions. The consequences of this overpopulation extend beyond the welfare of the animals themselves and pose risks to public health and safety.
“Recently, a town in India even declared a school holiday due to the increasing incidence of dog bites. However, a sustainable solution is needed to protect both children and dogs from unnecessary harm and suffering.
“In response to this pressing global issue, 600 Million Dogs is spearheading a science-centered mission to develop a safe, edible, one-dose, permanent-lasting birth control Cookie for stray dogs and cats. Join us in making a lasting impact on animal welfare and human safety.”
“If you tell so many untruths, you are going to lose credibility”
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi knows her nation. A journalist before entering politics, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi also reads the news.
On September 7, 2023, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi responded in a web posting to 600MillionDogs.org “No Indian town declared a school holiday because of dog bites. Nor is your organization doing any work here. If you tell so many untruths, you are going to lose credibility.
“This entire thing is now looking like a scam to me”
“This entire thing is now looking like a scam to me,” Maneka Sanjay Gandhi added.
“For over a decade now you have been asking for donations for this cookie. You have not come up with anything, but I am sure you have made financial killings and live off this money.
“I would like an explanation now,” Maneka Sanjay Gandhi asked.
“If I do not get one, then we will report you to all the various authorities and to all the main nonprofit organizations in America for cheating.”
One rabid dog
Alex Pacheco and minions with 600 Million Dogs Need You might have elected to shut up and cut their losses. Instead, Alex Pacheco himself chose to argue with Maneka Sanjay Gandhi without first looking up the meaning of some of the words he used, and apparently without looking at a map of the place he was talking about, a relatively isolated rural community of about 17,000 people in a nation of 1.4 billion people.
Alex Pacheco sent Maneka Sanjay Gandhi links to six articles from Indian newswires, all based on the same source material, reporting variously that from four to six schools, all on the same road in Koothali, Kozhikode, Kerala state, and 17 nearby anganwadis, or child care centers, had closed on a Monday morning in July because a rabid dog bit four people on the preceding Sunday, a month after a human rabies death occurred in the area.
Why the incident made news
The rabid dog, as of the Monday morning, remained at large.
“There was a safety threat as there were students who had to walk from their houses to the schools. The headmasters of the schools had called us and parents of anganwadi students were telling that they feared sending the kids to the institutions,” panchayat president K.K. Bindu told media.
“So, a holiday was declared,” Bindu said, until the rabid dog was captured later on the Monday.
“When man bites dog, that’s news”
The incident would not have produced a newswire account becoming headlines in six newspapers had it not been, at this point in time, highly unusual.
In fact, the highest reported human rabies death toll in India in the 21st century was more than three magnitudes of order less than commonly reported claims based on a survey done in 1911.
But Alex Pacheco went on to dig himself further into a credibility pit.
“Regarding your concerns about our organization,” Alex Pacheco wrote to Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, “I want to assure you that our organization and the scientists we retain to work with us,” none of whom Pacheco identified, “are, continue to be, and have been actively pursuing and vigorously working on developing what will be the world’s first Spay and Neuter Cookie.”
Alex Pacheco invited Maneka Sanjay Gandhi to visit the “Pilot Pups” page of the 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You web site.
Twenty-six photos of alleged former street dogs posted there give brief purported histories of the dogs, but no verifiable information about where they were captured.
Alongside the dog photos are magnified images said to be the dogs’ ovarian follicles after treatment, offering no information about who supposedly took the photos, where, when, and nothing to otherwise confirm that they show what the captions say they show.
“We are not telling any untruths”
Charged Alex Pacheco to Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, “I do not know where you are getting your information from, but the fact is, we have never claimed anywhere in our communication that we were ‘doing any work here,’ meaning in India.
“Your allegation appears to be false and unfounded.
“You also went on to write: ‘No Indian town declared a school holiday because of dog bites. If you tell so many untruths, you are going to lose credibility.’
“Please be advised: we are not telling any untruths. Falsely alleging that we are doing otherwise, is defamatory, unwarranted and does harm to animals as well.”
Three villages are not a town
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi responded by first of all educating Alex Pacheco about the meaning of Indian community definitions.
“No Indian town declared a holiday,” Manka Sanjay Gandhi explained. “A panchayat is a collection of three villages. They declared a holiday in four schools, not the entire panchayat,” which is served by eight schools.
“That has been exaggerated to an entire town,” Maneka Sanjay Gandhi observed. “This makes me believe that all the things you say are exaggerated and false.
“I simply do not believe your cookie story,” Maneka Sanjay Gandhi added. “There are no scientists at work. It has been over 15 years that the same story is being put out with no movement at all. No information has been given on where the lab is, who is working on it and where you have reached.
“I am going to have to inform all the authorities”
“I am afraid that unless I get credible information, I am going to have to inform all the authorities that a potential scam is at work,” Maneka Sanjay Gandhi said.
“There is no point threatening me with defamation and saying that I am making false statements, etc., because all I am asking is for credible proof of your work. In fact this childish overreaction makes me even more suspicious.
“Since I have been in the animal welfare movement for over 45 years and run 30 shelters, I would welcome an oral contraceptive for dogs. I just don’t believe that you are making one,” Maneka Sanjay Gandhi finished.
Then Maneka Sanjay Gandhi forwarded the correspondence to ANIMALS 24-7.
“I now believe it is a total scam.”
“This man has been putting out worldwide ads for more than 15 years and pulling in millions. I now believe it is a total scam. His claims are getting wilder, he has no data or scientists, and he responds to questions with threats,” Maneka Sanjay Gandhi told ANIMALS 24-7.
Alex Pacheco has in fact raised funds at least since 2009 with the promise that somehow, despite lacking any scientific credentials himself, having no laboratory facilities, with no identifiable scientists or veterinarians on staff, and having offered no biologically plausible theory as to how it might be done, he is on the brink of developing a one-dose “Spay and Neuter Cookie” to permanently sterilize either female or male dogs and cats.
Steve Hindi called Alex Pacheco’s bluff
Showing Animals Respect & Kindness founder Steve Hindi in February 2018 even offered Alex Pacheco $10,000 in cash if Pacheco could provide plausible evidence in support of his claims.
Hindi reinforced the offer by posting video of himself holding and counting the money.
If Pacheco has any credentials of note at all, on any subject, it was as a cofounder of PETA in 1981, who left PETA in 1996.
$2.5 million raised to do what?
600 Million Stray Dogs Need You filings of IRS Form 990, none more recent than for 2019, show that Pacheco has nonetheless persuaded donors to entrust him with upward of $2.5 million since 2011 in response to online and direct mail appeals making no scientific sense whatever.
The 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You filing of IRS Form 990 for 2019, shows $100,037 purportedly spent for “R&D program and support,” out of total expenditures of $264,680, but includes no indication as to where the money went.
Hired elves at the North Pole?
There are no identified paid personnel except Alex Pacheco and his sister Mary, no identified subcontractors, and despite Pacheco’s frequent insinuations that some scientific work is being done abroad, no declaration of foreign currency transfers.
In fact, on Part IV of the filing, lines 14a through 16 categorically deny that 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You has personnel, projects, or financial dealings outside the U.S.
ANIMALS 24-7 has repeatedly exposed Pacheco’s fundraising nonsense since 2011.
(See “600 Million” reasons to toss Alex Pacheco’s alleged spay/neuter cookies, Pseudo-science & the Alex Pacheco “Spay & Neuter” Cookie, Alex Pacheco of “600 Million” says he was gunner on a boat with no guns, Steve Hindi & SHARK up the ante & call Alex Pacheco’s bluff, Alex Pacheco serves stale “Spay & Neuter Cookies” again for Christmas, Spay/neuter popcorn? It’s as real as Alex Pacheco’s s/n cookies!), and FDA verdict on Mifrepristone upstages more nonsense from Alex Pacheco.)
But gullible donors continue to throw money at Alex Pacheco, whose emailed and direct mail appeals tell them fictions they would like to believe.