Scales of justice | July 27, Floridian story
Unsavory iguana solution
As responsible pet owners, my wife and I found the article about killing and eating iguanas appalling.
We understand the issues surrounding the overpopulation of snakes and iguanas. However, there is also an overpopulation of dogs and cats, yet there are no pictures in your paper showing a hunter carrying a freshly shot dog or cat, or articles written about hunting and writing cookbooks about them (even though dogs and cats are a delicacy in other countries).
I wouldn't be surprised if you got a letter from PETA. Remember President Barack Obama's run-in with the fly?
We know many other reptile owners who feel the same way. How about an article educating people on how hard it is to care for a reptile? I'm sure that would keep a lot of people from buying one. We would be more than happy to help.
Chris Willis, St. Petersburg
End the sale of iguanas
Wild iguanas are frequently the subject of nuisance complaints and victims of human cruelty. This is reason enough to try to decrease their numbers.
Sharing recipes for iguana stew is definitely not a solution. We can't eat ourselves out of the many problems caused by Florida's exotic pet industry.
A better approach would be to target the problem at its source.
The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida is working to persuade PETCO and other large retailers to discontinue the sale of iguanas at their stores in South Florida.
Due to their low cost and small size, iguanas are often purchased by individuals who lack the knowledge and resources to properly care for them. Unfortunately, once these reptiles become too large or expensive to care for, they are often abandoned or released into the wild.
Please visit www.arff.org for information on joining our efforts to get iguanas out of South Florida pet stores.
Nick Atwood, campaign coordinator, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, Fort Lauderdale
Woodstock reunion | July 28, LifeTimes story
Music festival left some with unhappy memories
It is said that "time heals wounds" and also that "time muddles memory."
I was a member of the New York State Police, assigned to the Ferndale Substation (the Woodstock Festival was in the patrol area) during the festival. Some of my comments on my "exposure" are found in Susan Reynolds' Woodstock Revisited as well as the upcoming documentary film Woodstock: 40 Years Later due on TV this August.
I need to add my thoughts after reading your story:
One lady in your story reports that "they opened the gates and everyone just walked in." In fact the chain-link fences surrounding the stage area were pushed down by the masses and everyone (except advanced sales) got in for free.
I can account for two young men who did not have a happy ending — nor are they around to "celebrate" this magnificent reunion:
My assignment was to have their remains identified:
No. 1 died from an overdose of heroin — self-inflicted.
No. 2 was a tragedy. A young man, less than 16 years of age, ran away from home (New Jersey) to attend. He came completely unprepared (clothes/food/funds). During the second night of the concert (during inclement weather) it became so cold that he picked up some black plastic refuse bags and wrapped them around himself to ward off the chill. Unfortunately for him, he chose to sleep among similar bags filled with refuse. During the early morning hours he was run over and killed by a farm tractor pulling a tank trailer (emptying portable toilets). I truly felt sorry for his father and uncle who arrived to ID the boy, a difficult task as his head was two to three times larger than normal (caused by the massive pressure when the tractor ran over his chest).
Just thought you'd like to know that it wasn't all a bed of roses.
Fred W. Cannock, retired senior investigator, New York State Police, New Port Richey
Dog trainer defends tactics | July 27
Cruel and old-fashioned
Thanks to the Times and Hillsborough County Animal Services for informing the public about the cruel and archaic training practices being utilized at Sit 'N Stay Dog Academy. As a professional dog trainer, I am saddened to hear dogs are still being "trained" using old-fashioned and painful techniques such as "helicoptering" in spite of all that we now know about dog behavior in the 21st century.
Last year, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) issued its position statement on the use of punishment in dog training, warning that "a major problem with using punishment is that it suppresses behavior temporarily but does not necessarily modify the underlying cause of the behavior."
The statement urges pet owners to focus on reinforcing desirable behaviors and removing reinforcement for inappropriate behavior, and to also address the emotional and environmental conditions that are driving the behavior in the first place.
The AVSAB goes on to warn that failing to follow these guidelines and relying on punishment to train dogs can often lead to a serious breakdown in the human-animal bond.
Janet Skinner, Palm Harbor
Dog trainer defends tactics | July 27
Use love, not fear
Of course a dog can be subdued by having a choke collar and leash on its neck, and lifted up and spun until it is terrified.
Yeah, and you can "teach" kids respect by beating them, too. But what do you have when it's all done? An angry, fearful and totally untrusting animal or person. This fear, at some time during the lifetime, will usually turn into violence against others.
Who in their right mind wants this for their pet? There is a place called "Best Friends" which has taken the abused, nearly dead dogs from Michael Vick's former dog fighting arena and turned them into loving pets, ready for homes. They have done this through patience and love.
I guess I'm more upset by this Tampa "trainer" than many, because 10 years ago I adopted two of the 300 abused dogs Hillsborough County rescued from Alice Holt. They have borne the emotional scars from their dreadful existence.
This "trainer" needs to be put out of business also. The judge needs to listen to both Animal Services and the breeders association and take away his right to torture animals.
MaryLou Tuttle, Tampa
End the abuse
Thank you so much for finally writing about Clarke Inghram and his abusive methods. Knowledgeable trainers rely on scientifically proven methods of training and behavior modification that don't bully or abuse the individuals they are working with. Unfortunately, Inghram has been able to slip by on excuses and deception for years. Hopefully your article is only the beginning of the end for him and his business of abuse.
Jacqueline Munera, Tampa
A beef with beef | July 15, Taste section
The benefits of beef
U.S. consumers have nothing to gain (and potentially a lot to lose) by taking the advice of Janet K. Keeler in her article about Meatless Monday.
As a Florida rancher of more than 30 years, I am an everyday environmentalist and celebrate Earth Day 365 days a year. When I graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in animal science, I made a commitment to myself, my family and my community to be a good steward of the environment and to do my part to provide consumers with the safest and most nutritious food in the world. Cattlemen have spent millions of dollars to ensure this fact.
One American farmer produces enough food to feed 144 people each day. Because more than half of our agriculture land is unsuitable for crop production, grazing animals like cattle on this land more than doubles the amount of area we use to produce food for the world. Beef is not only an excellent source of protein, it provides iron in the most readily available and easily absorbable source known. An adequate source of lean beef would eliminate the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, iron deficiency.
Environmentally conscious consumers should continue to enjoy beef with confidence, knowing that ranchers are providing wildlife habitat and large green spaces. We not only raise our cattle on this land, we also raise our families here. We are always looking for ways to improve the quality of our air, water and land. We can all eat beef knowing we are doing the right thing for our bodies as well as for the environment.
I would encourage consumers to come and visit an area cattle ranch and see how well the animals and the environment are cared for.
Happy Earth Day,
Wade Grigsby, president, Florida Cattlemen's Association, Venus
Examine plan carefully
When debating health care systems, we tend to cite the faults of other systems to prove or disprove a point, although the fault or faults may not be the norm. Our present system is not perfect.
I had an unnerving experience when I tried to get my wife to the local hospital and then admitted. I finally got attention, but it was an experience no one should have to go through. We had maximum health care coverage, for years. I am sure there are others who have had similar or even worse experiences with hospital care.
As for our having the best in the world and no waiting periods, I am sure if the millions in our nation who have no medical coverage had coverage, we would have waiting lines equal to lines forming in other nations.
When you buy a horse you don't just look at its teeth. When you buy a car you just don't just kick the tires. So let's include full logic in our reasoning. There's a lot of money evolved in health care that has nothing to do with your health.
Hartley Steeves, Tampa
Happy with Canadian care
I was raised in St. Petersburg. Our family moved to Toronto, Canada, in 1973 and has been there ever since. As the health care debate heats up (again) in the United States, I thought you might like to hear about Canadian health care from a "local" (to St. Petersburg and Canada) source.
Over the years in Canada we — two adults, four children, and now five grandchildren — have done battle with kidney stones, cancer, episodes of atrial fibrillation, osteomyelitis, injuries, reflux disease, appendicitis (two of us), fibroid tumors, shingles, a difficult pregnancy, a multiple birth — and I could go on, but that gives the general picture. We have annual physicals, mammograms, etc. The care we've received has been timely, caring, efficient and effective, using techniques as advanced as any in the United States.
The cost? Zero dollars. None. It's covered in our taxes. And, contrary to rumors, Canadian taxes are less than they'd be in a combined tax-plus-medical-insurance scenario in the United States.
That's our personal story. But there are general aspects to consider. Health care costs the government less in Canada than in the United States. You can't "lose" your health care in Canada if you lose your job. You can choose your own family physician and specialists. There are no forms to fill out and sign — you just present your photo ID card. You don't need to worry about a "catastrophic illness."
I'm not suggesting that the Canadian system is perfect. Services in smaller, more remote communities can be a challenge. But I can tell you unequivocally that it's been great for our family.
Jerry Good, Toronto
A glimmer of hope as new home sales soar July 26, story
Ease off on construction
In previous issues you told stories of established developments with foreclosed homes, neglected lawns, green pools, and neighbors working like dogs to not only maintain their own property but also trying to make a difference on these blighted homes. There were also stories of people hanging on to their home as foreclosure looms just a month or two away.
Yet, these homes that are now not looking so pristine are on the market up against brand new, squeaky-clean homes. Likely some of these homes have been sitting, waiting to be purchased, but not all of them. Stop building new homes. Give what is out there a chance to be sold.
Joe Brickman, Largo
Replace ineffective leader | July 26, editorial
Elected leader needed
We saw in the last election that the majority of voters in Hillsborough County seemed to favor the elected county mayor form of government and reject our current inefficient and outmoded form of government. Having seven individual commissioners, acting as a committee, along with an appointed administrator is clearly an inadequate model for dealing with Hillsborough County's current and future challenges.
The examples you cite (double-digit pay raises for senior staff, 80 percent voter support of the environmental land buying program, and no leadership direction on which services are critical to maintain) support the need for a strong elected leader (the model of governance at the state and federal level), accountable to the people, to direct the county's efforts and to provide a single vision of what our county could be.
Laura Woodard, Tampa
After reading all the articles talking about the idea of buildings being torn down — including the Trop and the Graham-Rogall public housing complex in St. Petersburg — I was shocked to find while watching the Tour de France that they actually have buildings, being lived in, that are up to 700 years old. What did those builders know that our present-day construction people don't know?
Or could it just be that our governments, federal, state and local, have too much money (our money) to spend and are always looking for a way to spend it?
I almost thank the good Lord that we are having a recession, to stop the waste that is going on all around our wonderful country.
James Bardsley, St. Petersburg