A Humane Sort of Death Squad
After reading Kirk Semple's "24 Hours a Stray" (January 4), I am convinced that the so-called Humane Society should change its name to the Death Squad. Apparently all they are good for is picking up stray or injured animals and killing them, although I'm sure in some cases the poor animals are better off dead. These people referring to their organization as "humane" is as laughable as Dade County calling its facility an animal "shelter."

The underlying problem, of course, is the mass of ignorant morons who own pets but refuse to take care of them. Mr. Semple's article states that many people don't even bother looking for their lost pets, and in fact will not take them back once they are rid of them. They refuse to have their pets spayed or neutered, which would greatly reduce the number of unwanted animals. They refuse to properly care for pets by having them vaccinated and by providing them with a safe, enclosed shelter. They allow their animals to wander freely, with no regard for the consequences to either their pets or to drivers who have to avoid running over them.

Probably worst of all, many of these irresponsible lowlifes abuse their pets in front of their children, who grow up thinking it's okay to torture, torment, and disregard the suffering of living creatures. Children raised in an environment in which animal abuse is accepted become adults who have no respect for life -- human or animal. Is it any wonder the world is so full of violence?

My husband and I share our home with four dogs, the last one having joined us after Hurricane Andrew left her homeless. They have added immeasurably to our lives, whether by waiting at the front door with tails wagging when we come home, by barking and scaring away intruders while we are out, or simply by putting a warm body with a cold nose next to us when we need some tender loving care. Of course they require time, effort, and money, but what we get in return cannot be bought at any price. Loyalty, protection, laughter, and unconditional love are just a few of the rewards.

A step in the right direction would be for Dade County to implement a special assessment tax to fund animal services, including free spay and neuter clinics, free vaccinations, classes in animal care, and a true shelter that doesn't kill the animals it's supposed to be saving. Additionally, a program could be initiated for qualified volunteers to visit elementary schools and teach children about caring for animals, and respect for life in general, whether it be human or animal.

People who do not own animals frequently complain they shouldn't have to pay for animal services, but these services ultimately benefit the entire community. Just as we all must pay for schools, libraries, hospitals, and food stamps whether we use them or not, so should we all share the burden for animal welfare.

We all need to understand that animals are not on this Earth for us to exploit, torture, mutilate, or murder and eat. While we sit around hyperventilating about what language should be spoken at Office Depot or obsessing over who will replace Don Shula, thousands of animals continue to suffer daily from humankind's indifference. Their suffering is as real as ours; their pain is just as acute. Seems kind of ludicrous, doesn't it?

Robin Kent-Gardner

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty . . .
Okay, so most people who leave animals at the Humane Society are boneheads who run out and buy the fashion pet of the month and want to get rid of it a month later. But what do you do when a stray cat has her kittens in your back yard?

I have two cats. Any more would compromise the care I can provide for them. When a stray cat had kittens in my yard, I made the mistake of feeding them. When visions of cats reproducing ad infinitum began haunting my nights, I realized I had a problem.

Though they took my food, these cats would run like the dickens from me. I had to trap them. The people from Broward County Animal Control, and especially Pompano Animal Control, were helpful, but getting the trap was onerous and time-consuming.

After the mother was trapped, I swore I'd take the kittens to the Humane Society in hopes they could be adopted. I was able to entice the kittens into a cat carrier, which reduced me to feeling like a serial killer without an urge to kill.

I took the first one to the Humane Society. The woman there didn't believe it was a wild cat. She gave me the "you're a cold-blooded killer" attitude and took the cat carrier to the back room. A little while later she told me to take the rest of the kittens to Animal Control. I was heartbroken at their certain fate.

I am angry at the people who let that stray cat loose, unfixed, until she showed up at my door with a bundle of kittens, and I do not want to burden the Humane Society with the guilt of destroying unwanted animals. But if I did it myself, they'd want me in jail. I guess I was naive to think the Humane Society could offer any hope for those kittens.

Jane Walsh

"Two Thumbs Up for Todd" A Flanders
Todd Anthony deserves the movie critic's equivalent of Hollywood's Oscar for his stunningly accurate review of Oliver Stone's new film Nixon ("Stone's Throw," January 4).

I saw the film with two friends who, like me, had also lived through the Nixon era. We, too, were electrified by Stone's brilliance in capturing the mood and the essence of the man, the times, and the country.

While relating my favorable impressions of the film to a friend the next morning, I made an allusion to another blockbuster movie, Patton. Imagine my surprise, while reading the New Times review later, to see that Todd Anthony used the same point of reference -- Patton -- while describing Anthony Hopkins's portrayal of Richard Nixon.

Run -- don't walk -- to catch this film. Anthony is right: The film and Hopkins's performance are breathtaking. Kudos to him for his review.

Robert A. Flanders

Here's Todd, There's the Banana, Whoops!
I thoroughly enjoy reading New Times each week. The editors and staff have good reason to be very proud of the high-quality product. Sometimes, though, even the best slip on the sensitivity banana.

I was very offended by Todd Anthony's brief description of the new movie Waiting to Exhale. The initial words -- "Four black chicks laugh, cry, and bond" -- are a backhanded, dismissive, and sexist way to describe what occurs in this wonderful movie.

I am not the only one who was shocked to see the movie so described. Please inform Mr. Anthony that, first of all, African American is the proper way to address my race, and secondly, the word chicks went out in the Seventies and doesn't need to be revived. Understood?

I look forward to more excellent journalism from the New Times staff, but please change that capsule to something more appropriate.

David S. Elliot
North Miami


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