News & Alerts

Special Report: August 2017

Special Report: August 2017

Dear friend,

When you love something, you never say goodbye. My love of animals and nature defines me. My commitment to protecting them demands my warrior spirit. Every second of every day, my soul is nourished by them and weeps for their suffering. For me, this is how it has always been and always will be.

At nine years old, I met the horrors of vivisection. My classroom reading table held NEAVS’ newsletter with a photo of a puppy in a starvation experiment. That same year I learned of Laika, the small stray dog claimed by the Russian space program and hurled into orbit in the name of science, never to return. As a child, rescuing “stray” dogs was my training field and where vivisection again slapped my childhood innocence. I can still see that sweet Collie roaming my street. She had a scar that ran along her entire side. Harvard medical students had rescued her from a lab and brought her to their home. She had wandered off. I found her. Or, she found me.

Though as an adult I pursued the field of psychology, my commitment to animals continued and eventually surpassed those career aspirations. In my decades of advocacy for animals, I felt the wounds of animal abuse all around me. Ultimately, I came to see that for me, “vivisection is the darkest of all dark evils.” I knew my calling was single focused: working on behalf of animals sacrificed in science.

I’ll never forget that starving puppy, Laika, or that Collie. I was branded with their pain. I learned early on that compassion requires the capacity to carry someone’s pain as if it were your own. Compassion was the force that compelled me to dedicate my life to ending vivisection. I saw the suffering and I wanted to stop their pain and end the cruelties that overwhelmed and continue to overwhelm me—cruelties that challenge my belief in humanity.

As years passed, I found my home at NEAVS. My resume reads: consultant re psychological research, 1985; transformation team to new leadership, 1987 Cleveland Amory elected President; Board of Directors, 1987; Corporate Secretary, 1988; Treasurer, 1989, 1990; elected President, 1996; interim to full-time Executive Director, 1998. In 1998, I gave up my private practice in psychology and dedicated myself to NEAVS.

Something more than choice was at work the whole time. Something stronger than human being-ness brought me to the front lines. When you commit to work for animals, you enter a war zone. You must be ready to pay the price—the continual assault on your calm, joy, and comfort. Your relief comes only from your work, your fight, and that of other warriors you love as relentless sister spirits.

While I will never say goodbye to my commitment to animals, it is time to say goodbye to my leadership at NEAVS.

As of September 5, 2017, I am stepping down as President and CEO. I’ll remain for the next year, reporting to the Board, completing some exciting, special projects and assisting the transition. I am thrilled to announce that Nathan Herschler, with his commitment and expertise in animal protection and nonprofits, and Gina Weishaupt, with her corporate history in communications and development, will serve in their respective roles as Executive Director and President of the Board.

I am grateful to the successive and continuing Board members since 1996 who supported my work, shared my passion, and never failed the animals. I thank the staff, consultants, and volunteers, who worked hard to get the job done. I send my love to colleagues and friends. Your work warms my heart and fires my spirit. I am proud to know you, and I’ll be there for you. Finally, my heartfelt thanks to all the supporters who sustain NEAVS and allow her to do the good work she does.

I’ll work for animals until I die. NEAVS will continue toward her 125th birthday (2020) and beyond to be one of the most effective organizations for animals in labs worldwide.

In the short run, I’ll take it a bit easier confident the animals remain well served by all of you. And then refueled, I’ll see what is next in my retirement years.

For the animals,

Theodora Capaldo, EdD
President Emeritus


To read the full newsletter, you can download Special Report: August 2017 here.