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Shooting death of dog was needless

Shooting of dog leaves pain, anger | Feb. 3, story

Dog's death was needless

I am so sorry Lee Ann Hutts lost her pet in such a gruesome and unnecessary way. Pinellas County sheriff's Deputy Robert McGuire is obviously not qualified to carry a gun or work in law enforcement. First he goes to the wrong door, then shoots a dog standing near its owner and leaves the area without ever doing what he was called there to do.

I would not open my door to someone who claimed to be in law enforcement at that time of night. I would stand inside, screen door locked, with my big, scary but sweet dog beside me.

McGuire showed no consideration for Hutts. He could have realized it was 9:30 p.m. and she might have been afraid. Her dog would have sensed her fear and was trying to protect her. I would respect a dog for doing that.

A few years ago my husband and I were working in our driveway and, both being slightly deaf, did not hear a deputy's car stop. Our dog barked and stood between us and the deputy. He stood still and said calmly, "You two have a wonderful dog and you need her as you did not hear me at all until she barked." That deputy was also looking for someone who used to live in our area. Deputy McGuire could learn a lot from him.

We have found that emergency veterinary care is very expensive and they want to see your money first. After hours, the SPCA is not available. That is when Hutts needed them. Emergencies don't always happen during business hours. It makes me angry to hear all the excuses now that Smoke is dead after a night of suffering.

Doris Taylor, Brooksville

Secure your dog

Dog owner Lee Ann Hutts has no one to blame for the death of her dog besides herself.

She asks, "How could all of this happen?" The shooting happened because she didn't follow Deputy Robert McGuire's instructions.

If she had followed Deputy McGuire's instructions and secured the dog as she was asked to do several times, that dog would still be alive today.

Joseph J. Bloznalis, Clearwater

Adding to the anxiety

A lot of people will think before answering their doors now that they have read about Smoke being killed unnecessarily.

As for the veterinarian letting Smoke die, I'll never understand how a person who has the training to prevent a death can turn away an animal in need.

Most of us would love to know that all vets would never turn away a critically ill animal.

M.L. Renner, St. Petersburg

Fewer days of mail will deliver savings Feb. 4, Sue Carlton column

Saturdays can go

I agree with Sue Carlton that we could get along fine with fewer days of mail. I think that Saturday would be a good day to stop deliveries. I have never sent or received any mail on a Saturday that was so crucial that it could not wait until the next work day.

Taking this step would save the government money. It would also reduce fuel consumption. Finally, many more workers would have weekends home with their families.

If something absolutely had to be mailed on a Saturday, it could be done at a post office or sent by FedEx or other means.

Carl E. Graham, Largo

Accept this change

I am glad to hear the U.S. Postal Service is thinking outside the box and trying to save money in these trying times. I was insulted by the statement made by A. Lee Fritschler, a former chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission: "I think a lot of people will wonder what happened to their mail on Tuesday or Saturday if it doesn't come any more."

Please give the public some credit. We know that times are tough and that the Postal Service is losing money. I am personally mailing fewer items. I can live without mail on Tuesday or Saturday. In fact it might help make my life less stressful by not receiving mail those days: no bills to pay or third-class mail to go through.

Has anyone thought about all the gas it will save and the reductions of the truck emissions by not have a car or truck stop at every home and business in America one day a week? The Postal Service ought to be congratulated for reducing costs and should be rewarded for helping the environment. And I will be happy if my stamp costs remain stable. If there ever was a time for the public to understand and accept this change, the time in now.

Jan Tracy, Safety Harbor

This had better buy us a lot of "stimulus" Feb. 3, Howard Troxler column

Stimulus looks like pork with a little lipstick

Howard Troxler's column crystallized perfectly the reasons behind the House Republicans' unanimous rejection of the "stimulus" package cobbled together by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats. Some GOP partisanship was undoubtedly at work, but their vote also made sense for the country.

I'm sure the Washington lobbyists are salivating over Congress' desire to spend whatever it takes to show America they are taking bold steps to turn the current economic mess around. Never mind asking silly questions regarding whether the proposed spending will actually provide the short- term stimulus that is required.

The Endowment for the Arts, contraceptive programs and road projects that will take years to get off the ground may be appropriate for government spending once the immediate crisis has been averted. Now, however, such programs only inflate the deficit with little effect on the economic problems at hand.

Affordable mortgages and available capital coupled with tax relief for businesses both large and small are what is needed right away to jump-start the economy. These measures will surely accomplish what's necessary at much less than $900 billion.

In contrast, from the details made available to date, it appears Sen. Harry Reid, Speaker Pelosi and friends have merely applied lipstick to the proverbial pig and named it "stimulus," when in fact it is more accurately just more of the same old Democratic pork.

Robert Heyman, St. Petersburg

This had better buy us a lot of "stimulus" Feb. 3, Howard Troxler column

The arts mean jobs

In this column, Howard Troxler commented that job stimulus funding to the National Endowment for the Arts would have "little direct economic effect."

The arts industry is a sector of the economy just like any other with workers who pay taxes and mortgages and in recent weeks are being laid off. There are 2 million full-time working artists in the United States, representing 1.4 percent of the labor force, a number only slightly smaller than active-duty and reserve personnel in the U.S. military. This number does not include the millions more who work on the administrative, production and technical sides of the industry. According to research by Americans for the Arts, nonprofit arts organizations support 5.7 million jobs every year.

NEA grantmaking processes are well respected for their ability to distribute federal funds quickly to organizations all over the country, more than $122 million in 2008. Virtually all NEA-supported arts projects require the engagement of people — whether through direct employment or contractual arrangements. These projects are not subject to hearings or studies at the front end that can delay a start date and don't put entitlements in place after a project is completed.

Please go to for more information.

Victoria Hutter, acting director, communications, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington

Support Senate stimulus

It is really rich to hear the Republicans talk of "fiscal conservatism" after they just spent the last eight years rubber-stamping every expensive spending measure put forth by George Bush. Most of our previous president's financial misadventures benefited only the fabulously wealthy while gutting our Treasury and doubling our huge national debt to more than $10 trillion.

What Barack Obama and the Senate are currently proposing — a stimulus bill that will actually benefit millions of working-class Americans — is a drop in the bucket in comparison. And because this bill doesn't line the pockets of their billionaire buddies, the Republicans now have the gall to complain? Please.

It is high time our elected officials started being public servants, and actually crafted legislation that benefits working families making $200,000 and less, which is to say the huge majority of people living in this country. I am a homeowning taxpayer who is frankly tired of Republican obstructionists who are stonewalling President Obama's efforts to heal our economy in a truly bipartisan manner.

Don't the Republicans remember who won last November's election in a landslide — and more importantly, why he won? It is because too many of us are sick of what they've done to our country. It's too bad if they're angry that we had the nerve to take it back. That's democracy in action.

Michelle J. Kenoyer, Riverview

Forget bipartisanship | Feb. 5, letter

Lean left and lose

The letter writer needs to be reminded that the American electorate did not elect Barack Obama because they were in favor of a left-of-center style of government, much less a radical left agenda. The American people did not embrace "strong progressive leadership." In fact, the Democrats do best when they act like centrists.

If the socialists, gun-ban nuts, proabortionists and other ideologues start coming out of their closets, the Republicans will gain in Congress in 2010, and will take back the White House in 2012.

Obama won largely because of financial panic and because there was a surge of first-time voters drawn to cult-of-personality advertising. Those voters won't be around two years from now, especially if the current administration exhibits Jimmy Carter-like confusion.

Leonard Martino, Tampa

Mold at St. Joseph's killed 3 children, lawsuit says | Feb. 4, story

Irresponsible allegations

You recently gave front-page coverage to lawsuits filed by a local malpractice attorney in connection with deaths from fungal infections in leukemic patients at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. I am a retired medical oncologist, and reading the article makes it clear that you did not do proper investigation before giving headline credence to these allegations.

While it is reasonable for the families to question why their child should die, even where at least one showed no current evidence of the leukemia, it is totally unreasonable to publicize such a remote possibility as a connection with a construction project. These infections result from invasion by fungi that are ubiquitous in the child's environment, and while the children could be isolated from the construction project, the fungi could also be found throughout the child's home as well as in their parents and pets. The child could have carried the fungus for months, awaiting only an opportunity to become invasive and lead to death.

Despite the fact that progress in medical care allows children previously destined to die from leukemia to now live long lives, some still succumb to the effects of their disease or the treatment of it. Leukemia never kills children. It kills by causing complications such as bleeding, organ failure, or, most commonly, infections. Such cases occur in every leukemia treatment center, whether they have construction projects or not. You would also find that absence of signs of leukemia in the marrow does not preclude the patient dying from complications of the disease and its treatment.

I can personally attest to the extreme difficulty most people have with assessing cause and effect in extremely complicated disease situations. Unfortunately our pathetic malpractice climate allows predators such as this attorney to exploit that difficulty, and thus put under attack a heroic medical team expending their utmost to overcome the horrific diseases of childhood.

It certainly doesn't behoove a responsible news organization to publicize lawsuits invented to assuage the parents' need to assess blame and to aggrandize the legal profession's take from the shameless exploitation of ambiguity in determining cause and effect.

Lowell D. Smith, M.D., Hernando

Mold at St. Joseph's killed 3 children, lawsuit says | Feb. 4, story

Hospital deserves better

As I write, I happen to be sitting at one of the computers at St. Joseph's Hospital. You see, my 7-year-old daughter has leukemia. We arrived three days earlier to get her emergency treatment for the flu, just one of the many life-threatening illnesses that occur in the lives of children like mine, whose ability to fight off infections are seriously lowered due to the effects of chemotherapy.

There are many pertinent facts not mentioned in your article. One of these is that children with leukemia undergo arduous and prolonged treatment — the average treatment for girls is 21/2 years and for boys is 31/2 years. The temporary side effects of these treatments include nausea, headaches, lethargy, as well as the potential of permanent damage such as learning disabilities, stunted growth, brittle bones. These are the things that the parents, children and hospital staff deal with every day. It can be as frightening, and sometimes just as detrimental, as the cancer itself.

The lowered resistance caused by the particular medications used in chemotherapy result in the patient's being particularly susceptible to fungal infections. If you, additionally, take into account the fact that here in tropical Florida molds and fungi proliferate, it is not hard to understand that the risk of fungal infections is extremely high.

Many children have been cured through the work of the dedicated medical staff at St. Joseph's Hospital. Your article implies that the hospital construction caused these children to die. The sad truth is that these children died from the unfortunate complications that accompany cancer treatment. Cancer is a very rough road even when the outcome is positive. Losing a loved one is nothing but devastating. But pointing a finger to p place blame on those who treat the patients only damages the future of other patients who, like my daughter, still depend upon their care.

Debra Witter, Dunedin

Shooting death of dog was needless 02/06/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 6, 2009 8:22pm]
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