If the SPCA board follows through on any policy revisions, it seems the first order of business is just simply to be honest with the public. Although they indicate they've never said they were a "no-kill facility," they've also never fully stated what the policy has been. That appears to be deceptive due to this omission.
People who bring in animals to this facility or any others should be provided with the facility's policies. Let them know that there is a 50-50 chance at best that the animal will be adopted, otherwise it will be killed. Have the people sign a document that they understand the policy before they leave the facility.
But please, just be honest.
Kay Warring, Oldsmar
SPCA deserves support
We were disappointed to read your recent pieces on our local SPCA. We are veterinarians in Pinellas County and have worked with animal shelters across the country, including the SPCA Tampa Bay. Our local SPCA is a wonderful organization and deserves our support for the difficult work it must do.
The problem of pet overpopulation and euthanasia of unwanted/unadoptable pets is not a new one. Irresponsible pet ownership is the cause of pet overpopulation, and organizations like the SPCA are stuck with the horrible job of dealing with the issue.
A good reporter would have taken the opportunity to educate the public on ways to prevent pet overpopulation (spay/neuter, dealing with behavioral issues, etc.) instead of merely criticizing the SPCA for dealing with a problem it did not create. Where was the input from a shelter veterinarian? An epidemiologist? The national animal welfare organizations?
We think the criticism regarding transparency of euthanasia statistics is valid, and we know that shelter director Beth Lockwood and the SPCA staff are working to create and maintain transparency. Beyond transparency, however, we do not feel there is any reason for criticism.
The issue that bothers us the most about your misplaced criticism is that the SPCA's donations, and subsequently the animals they care for, will suffer. The notion that animals surrendered to shelters are guaranteed placement in new homes is unrealistic and needs to be confronted. With Animal Control facing 30 percent budget cuts, this is when the SPCA needs our help the most.
Caroline Thomas, DVM and Sara Anderson, DVM
Dark issues exposed
SPCA director Beth Lockwood's dismissal of complaints about the high euthanization rate as "chatter from 'toxic' individuals" is totally unacceptable and proof that shining light on dark issues is embarrassing. Because long-time, SPCA volunteer, Paula Hays, raised questions about the fate of the cats she had been photographing for the SPCA's adoption Web site, that doesn't make her "toxic." Good for Ms. Hays that she had the presence of mind to tear up the "confidentiality agreement" she was being made to sign after asking questions.
When are human beings going to realize that we are the guardians, not murderers, of our furry companions? When an organization holds itself out to the public as one thing, while doing something quite different, it deserves to be shut down. Perhaps the SPCA of Tampa Bay has gotten so big that it has lost its heart in the process.
I have adopted two SPCA shelter cats and was a regular contributor. As a Heritage Society member, I made provisions to bequeath monies from my will to the SPCA Tampa Bay. After the revealing article on Aug. 14, I will now re-direct my resources to smaller groups such as Save Our Strays, Friends of Strays and The Little Cats' Rescue. They may be small, but at least they have a heart!
Christine Masseo, New Port Richey
Spay and neuter
When you look at the big picture ,the so called "no-kill shelters" like Friends of Strays, don't actually euthanize, but when they fill up their cages they turn every cat and dog away. Those cats and dogs have to go somewhere, and a shelter like Pinellas County Animal Services is always the bad guy in this situation. They can't turn anyone away and even if they run out of room they have to take them in. So many dogs and cats are euthanized because of space.
There was a lady that stood up at the Largo SPCA meeting who was upset and said that her cat's six kittens would not go there because of her fear of their being euthanized. For one thing, why does she have six kittens?
What she needs to know is that the idea of letting your cat or dog have babies and then thinking they will be adopted because they are healthy and "cute" is being naive. Many cute and healthy kittens are euthanized because of space. All the cats and dogs going into shelters could never be adopted out. There are just too many.
I remember seeing a statistic that said if every dog and cat where adopted out every person would own 5 dogs and 10 cats. Wake up, people. Stop the problem and spay or neuter your pet. Money shouldn't be an issue because there are many organizations that will do it for little or no cost. Keep you donations going to the shelters so they can adopt as many as they can and educate people about this problem.
Diane Smith, Clearwater
Close the puppy mills
The SPCA would not have to be in this position if puppy mills where outlawed across this country. Theses mills are responsible for a good part of this problem, not to mention all the people who do not get pets fixed.
Remember, the SPCA only has so much room. It only has so many spaces available for animals, only so many volunteers and only so much in dollar donations to buy food and medical supplies. Theses volunteers and supplies do not fall out of the sky.
The SPCA needs everyone's support. Help out if you can and become part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Steve Harris, St. Petersburg
It's up to us
Your enlightening article on the SPCA sparks the desire to uphold our responsibility to our companion animals, whose fate is always our decision. As supply exceeds demand, most pets are born with no possibility of having a home, (especially true for cats, whose birth rate triples dogs'), and most abandoned pets die a slow death by starvation and disease. We must recognize our current methods aren't working, and that blaming individual pet owners only protracts the situation.
The ideal model to humanely solve our pet overpopulation would be a spay/neuter program that is free and mobile, creating a winning situation for pets and people. In the Tampa Bay area, there are numerous organizations working humanely on this enormous problem, including the Humane Society, the Animal Coalition of Tampa, Friends of Strays and Save Our Strays among other dedicated individuals and groups. It's up to us.
Alana Boyce, Indian Shores
Show concern for kids, too
I cannot understand how many people show their faces when it comes to the inhumane treatment of animals. We have children who are being abused as I write this letter, every day. Where are all these people who know or have seen abuse, but don't come forward on behalf of our children?
It's amazing to me how animals get more exposure than a child. We have a pathetic society where everyone blames others for their shortcomings instead of stepping up and taking responsibility for their own actions. We overburden our system and can't understand why things are not done the way we would like them to be. So sorry for all of us.
E. Vincent, Tarpon Springs
From darkness into the light | Aug. 13, editorial from the Washington Post
Special Olympics is a remarkable legacy
The passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver last week is mourned by millions throughout the world. Her advocacy for those with intellectual disabilities through Special Olympics has had a major impact for the past four decades. Persons once hidden away are now able to be functional contributors to society.
I often say that Special Olympics opened the eyes of the world to the capabilities of its athletes. It continues to do so. New volunteers at any of our many events often say how impressed they were with the athletes' abilities and heart. Even athlete parents learn that their child's disability is not a burden, but something that can be celebrated through their accomplishments. After 20 years of involvement with this program, I, too, am amazed at what our athletes can do. Our athletes not only do well in sports activities, but many go on to have jobs, homes, cars and families. That is a long way from keeping them in the darkness of not all that long ago.
Where once there were no options for people with intellectual disabilities, now there are a host of activities designed to make the most of their lives: Best Buddies, Challenger League, Tops programs, dance groups, cheerleading, theater groups, not to mention advocacy groups for parents and their children to ensure they are getting opportunities equal to those of their nondisabled peers.
,Special Olympics is a year-round training and competition program, not just a single event every once in a while. That Eunice Kennedy Shriver had not only the vision but also the perseverance to create this program and ensure its success is an amazing legacy she leaves behind. Special Olympics will honor her for years to come through the training and education of athletes, families and the world. She is gone, but truly not forgotten.
David R. Haines, county coordinator, Special Olympics Pinellas County, St. Petersburg
Don't sell U.S. treasures cheap | Aug. 19, Debra Saunders column
Resources being ravaged
While I am glad that the president and his family enjoyed their visit to Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon I am sad that they did not visit the areas where the real treasures are being sold out cheaply. To get a real feel of the country, they should also visit the clear-cut timber regions of Oregon and Washington and/or the strip-mined-out regions of the Appalachians in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee and West Virginia. They could also look into the costs of mining out other minerals such as phosphate rock, copper, etc., in other regions of this country. Drilling for oil and mining in Alaska are not good for conservation of natural resources.
All these areas are usually left in some state of physical desolation and citizen despair. Not all our natural resources are used in this country for the benefit of most citizens. We destroy our natural resources only to ship the products to some foreign country in exchange for gee-gaws or some wispy political influence we are promoting at the time.
The federal and state park systems are all good and I love them dearly, but they are usually underfunded and unfortunately serve as diversions from bad things happening in other parts of this country.
Harold T. Sansing, Dunnellon
Face-to-face with 250-pound bear | Aug. 15
Protect bear habitat
There are Florida black bears in Pasco and Hernando counties, and I am deeply thankful that there are. The southern Nature Coast would not be the same without them!
Sustainable development (and black bear friendly development) in the Nature Coast will require, and challenge us, to come up with new ways to implement residential development. We can and must do better. The development patterns of yesterday no longer are ethical or justifiable in a Florida with 18 million people.
We are blessed with Florida black bears in the southern Nature Coast, and if we have the grace and wisdom to protect their habitat, acquire more of it, protect and expand wildlife corridors and greenways, and limit road and development impacts ,our grandchildren will have the experience of living with and loving bears like we do.
If folks moving to this region have the attitude that Betty Will does and we do, the hard but important work to protect bears, wildlife corridors, and habitat, there might just be some hope yet for the southern Nature Coast.
Thanks to Helen Anne Travis and the St. Petersburg Times for a great, heartwarming story!
Joseph A. Murphy, Brooksville
Shattering their dream | Aug. 16, story
Family deserves better
It was sad to read about the Boyd family. You work all your life to build your dream home and you can't move in because you fear what will happen next.
Fireworks were put inside their fireplace, and their RV caught on fire. What a shame in this day and age that people would do this. It should not matter if you are black or white or if you were from the North or the South.
Mark and Connie Boyd worked hard for their money and should have their dream home. I want them to know not all people are like that. I'm white and I'm wishing for all their dreams to come true.
Rose Chatelain, Hudson