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A dolphin vs. starving humans

Letters to the Editor
Published January 14, 2006

After reading most of the Jan. 7 St. Petersburg Times, I put two articles side by side and thought that we really have our priorities screwed up!

One article was titled U.N. warns that millions could starve in Africa and warns that an estimated 11-million people "are on the brink of starvation."

The second article was Replacing Winter's tail, which indicated that it might cost an estimated $100,000 for a prosthetic tail (for a dolphin!) and that it has already cost the Clearwater Aquarium $10,000 to feed this one creature special meals of a "herring concoction" over the past three weeks.

Math time: How many starving African children would you be able to feed for $110,000 (a $100,000 tail and $10,000 in herring meals)?

How many starving children would be glad to receive the one dolphin's special "herring concoction" lunches?

Why does a newspaper devote so much space to a dolphin story while giving only a small fraction of that space to a story about starving human youngsters in Africa?

Enough on this subject. I need to finish the newspaper by reading the comic section. I guess we all have our priorities screwed up!

-- Henry Russell, Palm Harbor

Too many inequities remain

I read with interest your Jan. 7 article about the disabled 3-month-old dolphin who lost her tail in a crab trap and will need a prosthetic tail and "constant care as the wound heals." Since the dolphin, obviously, does not have medical insurance, how will this expensive procedure be paid for? Does the Clearwater Marine Aquarium have the money in its budget?

I don't recall reading about a child in need of prosthetic devices getting the immediate attention the dolphin has received, or about senior citizens who are uninsured, and without funds, receiving the same benefits.

I have read articles about foreign children coming to the United States for medical procedures that are performed without medical insurance. I think that is admirable and humane, but the inequities remain. I see an unbalanced, biased set of priorities, where often animals are treated better than humans.

Wouldn't the money used to aid the dolphin be better allocated to help our needy children and senior citizens?

-- Mathew Galemmo, New Port Richey

Are horses now sacred cows?

Re: Partners in cruelty, editorial, Jan. 12.

Have you quite taken leave of your senses? Why should horses be exempt from being butchered and their carcasses put to good use? Are horses now considered sacred cows?

I must admit to having eaten creatures from anchovies to whelks. Yes, during World War II my dear uncle brought us some cuts of horse meat that we consumed with relish and thankfulness. No, horse flesh is not necessarily the tastiest, but I recall the hamburgers were nourishing.

I agree that any animal should be humanely butchered. Rather than condemning the slaughter of all horses, perhaps you should have directed your outrage against the labor practices of many large meat packing plants. Meat packing has become more dangerous than coal mining.

Since you do not condemn eating animals in general, what is the logical reason to exempt horses from being slaughtered for use in the United States or any other country? Other than being histrionic, your editorial offered no reasonable argument.

-- C.D. Chamberlain, Spring Hill

Don't allow horse slaughter

Re: Partners in cruelty.

After a tremendous public outcry, Congress last year passed the 2006 appropriations bill that effectively stopped horse slaughter for fiscal 2006 set to begin March 10, by cutting funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections of plants that slaughter horses.

Now, in a move that flies in the face of that congressional mandate, the USDA is considering a petition submitted by the three foreign-owned slaughterhouses in the United states which would create a new means of paying for inspection of slaughterhouses, allowing horse slaughter to continue to supply the foreign horse-meat market.

European-owned plants slaughter nearly 100,000 horses yearly while owners often do not realize where their horses are headed. All kinds of horses are brutally shipped under inhumane conditions where they suffer a terrible fate.

We need to urge our representatives, senators and USDA Secretary Mike Johanns to shut down this illegal and undemocratic usurpation of Congress' authority and deny the slaughter plants' petition to allow horse slaughter in 2006.

-- Carol Lushear, Dunedin

Selective humanity

Re: Partners in cruelty.

The St. Petersburg Times should get off of its high horse (no pun intended). Granted, the slaughtering and rendering of horses for meat is a barbaric practice, but certainly no more so than is the confining and slaughtering of tens of millions of cows, pigs and chickens every year in factory farms. Actually, the argument can be made that the horses are much better off, since their lives prior to slaughter are relatively serene. The same cannot be said for the other animals that typically spend their entire miserable lives without seeing the light of day or touching earthen ground. But I suppose horses are regal, elegant and beautiful while chickens are dirty, cows are fat and stupid and pigs - well pigs are pigs. Your selective humanity reeks of hypocrisy.

-- Pete Hines, Tampa

The other side of a dog's life

I could not help but think about all the homeless dogs wandering the streets of our city as I read about the dog show and the prize money. We have domesticated animals and set up a caste system for them much like ours. Animals are homeless or pampered. The middle class is vanishing. I would like to see the other side of a dog's life on the front page. So many end up in shelters.

I am hoping the winner at the dog show will donate to a shelter so that dogs once bred and sold in pet stores . . . dogs that end up in pounds because owners divorce . . . or because an elderly person dies . . . or simply because a human being does not want it anymore . . . will benefit.

I also hope there comes a day when people realize animals have rights. Who really profits from the dog shows?

I bet those dogs would much rather be at home sitting in a sunny yard chowing on some great food with family or friends!

-- Louise Kahle, St. Petersburg

[Last modified January 14, 2006, 01:38:14]

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