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Saturday, October 1, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the editor

Burden of beasts

People lack instinct for tracking problem to its source

Editor, The Times:

I could almost feel the collective cringe from animal-welfare organizations across the Puget Sound after reading about a new trend in dog breeds [" 'Designer dogs' all the rage," Times, News, Sept. 26]. When particular breeds become popular, shelters are burdened with the overflow of dogs that didn't live up to their inflated images.

There were collies when Lassie was famous, then Dalmatians after the Disney movies were released. Because these dogs were portrayed as "dependable" or "cute," people rushed to get them, without doing research into the reality of sharing their lives with a dog.

We in the animal-welfare community continue to ask why humans insist on "creating" more dogs, and now specialized mixed breeds, when there are so many dogs in our community desperately waiting for homes. In 2004, more than 14,500 dogs ended up in the five-largest Seattle-area shelters alone.

But, I could also hear the collective chuckle from local animal organizations regarding these designer dogs. Mixed breeds are not a new idea. Shelters have had these beautiful, unique animals available for adoption for years.

If you stop by PAWS today, you may just find the Labraherd or Chowsset Hound you've been looking for and we guarantee you'll save at least $1,000 on the adoption fee.

— Mary Leake Schilder, communication coordinator, Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), Lynnwood

Worst in show

When I read " 'Designer dogs' all the rage," I couldn't believe a new low had been reached in human vanity. When people have run out of unique, inanimate objects with which to set themselves apart, now we've moved on to the animated variety of conversation piece.

These dogs are going to be a genetic crap-shoot; and with their traits a complete unknown, how many orders, sight unseen, will turn into abandoned additions to shelters, kennels and the streets? How will a family know if one of these dogs is good with kids, obedient; its intelligence level, life span, health problems?

Hey, as long as it's unusual and original, let's roll the dice. If I don't like it, I can always get rid of it.

When kennels and shelters are overflowing with an assortment of misfit mutts that need a good home for the cost of its shots and licensing, people will shell out $500-plus for a new and improved one.

We suck!

— Trevor Proud, Seattle

The fur cut

Designer dogs may be all the rage, but certainly not among those who have even a superficial understanding of the subject. Karen Zale is typical: She ordered a dog in the same way she would order a basket of fruit.

She, and others like her, may not realize that they are legitimizing puppy mills, backyard breeders, pet shops and others who see dogs only as a commodity and have only one motive: money.

I wish people would realize that dogs are not "arm-candy" but are living creatures that deserve respect. I guess there is a sucker born every minute; too bad the dogs have to pay the real price.

— Selma Mulvey, Burford, Ontario, Canada

Homeward boundary

What a heartwarming article about 25 rescued animals from [the ravages of] Hurricane Katrina ["Four-legged evacuees arrive here in style," page one, Sept. 28].

How tragic that their owners are only being given two weeks to recover their pets. How exactly are these lost families supposed to locate their rescued four-legged family members?

I know many people are still stuck in Red Cross shelters. Many hurricane survivors still haven't found and identified the bodies of lost family members, much less arranged a funeral service for them. There are parents desperately searching to find their children who were placed into the foster-care system, yet can't be located.

The hurricane was a disaster. People are not going to move on with their lives in a matter of weeks. I implore any rescuers fostering animals from Hurricane Katrina to please hold these animals far past Oct. 15! I urge them to do everything in their power to locate the original owners.

Fostering a rescue animal is an emotional experience and many rescuers will be tempted to adopt their foster pets. For the survivors, who include the elderly, children and now homeless adults, these pets may be the only thing recovered for them from the hurricane. Their animals may be all they have left. Please do all you can to reunite them!

— Ed Morgan, Kingston

What small eyes you have

I can only hope the picture [accompanying] "Four-legged evacuees arrive here in style," showing Patty Barrier and her jet, does not find its way very far from the United States. To fly round-trip from here to Louisiana to bring 20 dogs and five cats back is, in my opinion, the worst example of conspicuous consumption I have witnessed for a long time.

Could the large amount of money that was spent for those pets maybe have been used for the human victims of the same disaster? Or possibly the organizations that help in the effort to fight world hunger could have used those same resources more wisely?

Until the citizens of this country start to understand how their actions affect, and are perceived by, the rest of the world community, our country moves on toward moral bankruptcy.

Is it any wonder groups such as al-Qaida find willing members to bring us down? If Barrier is not a recruitment poster for our detractors, we can consider ourselves lucky on this one.

— Robert Morris, Seattle

The truth about kids and dogs

I quote from "A family's chaos: 'It was like the end of the world' " [News, Sept. 23]: "Most of the people pouring into the shelter yesterday morning were from the neighborhood. They brought pets, radios, pillows — and their small children."

With such limited space, wouldn't you think they'd have left those small children at home!?

— Beatrice Clark, Renton

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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