- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 26, 2004

Rabbit advocacy

I read with interest your article about exotic pets (“Exotic pets by the rules,” Life-Home, Wednesday). It cites a 2002 survey, conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, showing that rabbits top the list of the most popular exotic pets. Sadly, the article never discusses rabbits in any detail.

As the devoted companion to four sweet and lovable house rabbits and as the volunteers director for Rabbitwise, a rabbit advocacy organization for the metropolitan area, I can personally attest to the fact that rabbits make wonderful house companions.

They are the cute and cuddly alternative to those animals most traditionally thought of as exotic, such as the reptiles and snakehead fish discussed in the article.

Rabbits are intelligent, sociable and loving animals. Although they require lots of love, time and attention — just as dogs and cats do — their companionship is priceless.

I invite your readers who are curious about rabbits to check out our Web site www.rabbitwise.org to see how popular and mainstream rabbits have become in our society.

Everything you have always wanted to know about rabbits can be found via our Web site. Please bear in mind, however, that rabbits are not for everyone.

For instance, we do not recommend rabbits for small children. Rabbits are by nature skittish and can nip and kick if not handled properly or if they feel threatened.

If you are the right person for a bunny friend, contact us. We can put you in touch with shelters and rescue groups that will happily introduce you to rabbits in need of a good home.

PAULETTE LINCOLN-BAKER

Sterling

The trend toward exotic “pets” is compromising the welfare of animals and threatening public safety. Exotic animals have very special requirements, and when these are not met, the animals pay the price.

Too often, birds, which are meant to fly free, are stuck in small cages where they go mad from loneliness and boredom. Reptiles are frequently placed in small cages that aren’t properly heated and fed diets that are completely foreign to them.

The animals frequently wind up in climates they are not suited for and are tossed aside when a new fad arises.

Exotic animals can also be aggressive and carry communicable diseases. Human contact with reptiles and other exotic animals accounts for 90,000 cases of salmonella a year.

The Midwestern outbreak of monkeypox was traced to a Gambian rat from Africa that was housed with prairie dogs in an animal dealer’s shed.

Prairie dogs also have been known to carry the plague and tularemia. The herpes B virus can be transferred from macaques to humans and parrots can transfer psittacosis, or parrot fever, to humans.

Primates can also transmit herpes B, poxviruses, measles, rabies, hepatitis, tuberculosis, salmonella, ringworm, and other bacterial, viral and fungal infections.

Responsible people who can give animals the love, care and respect they deserve should adopt a needy animal from a shelter or rescue organization.

HEATHER MOORE

Senior writer

People for the Ethical Treatment

of Animals

Norfolk

“Research” at National Geographic

National Geographic Editor in Chief William L. Allen states that his publication “meticulously” researched for four years its super-hyped September cover story “Global Warning” (“The scientific approach,” Sept. 17). He claims that “the preponderance of scientific evidence worldwide overwhelmingly proves the planet is heating up.”

The evidence doesn’t bear this out. In two peer-reviewed research papers published in the July 9 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a major scientific journal, I, with Patrick J. Michaels as a co-author, showed that out of four data sets, three show no significant global warming. Advocates of global-warming theory simply ignore all contrary evidence. This is hardly a “scientific approach.”

In the process of disparaging Mr. Michaels, Mr. Allen makes a great deal of the fact that coal-burning utilities support some of Mr. Michaels’ work. He does not mention that most of his own research support comes from the government. Has it ever occurred to Mr. Allen that Mr. Michaels’ views are shaped by the science rather than sources of support? Or that the same reasoning can be turned back upon his own funding arrangements?

The Association of American Geographers gave its 2003 award for the best climate-science paper to a paper that was co-authored by Mr. Michaels.

National Geographic should have discovered this in its “meticulous research.”

DAVID DOUGLASS

Professor of physics

University of Rochester

Rochester, N.Y.

Illegals: political will, political won’t

No doubt Maryland Delegate Richard K. Impallaria thinks he’s doing the right thing, but he’s a day late and a dollar short (“Bill eyed to study illegals’ health tab,” Metro, Wednesday). Whatever the exact dollar cost of illegals’ medical care, we can be sure of three things: It’s huge, it’s increasing, and the taxpayers at large shouldn’t pay for it.

Perhaps some new kind of tax levied on all businesses would be the answer, with lower rates or an exemption for those who can demonstrate they don’t hire illegals. If medical costs could be made to accompany the hiring of illegals, employers would soon find that “cheap labor” actually turns out to be pretty costly. The difference at present is that employers don’t have to foot the bill.

That the dollar costs will be publicly disclosed is itself an achievement, one that pro-illegal groups hoped to keep hidden. What we know without a doubt now is that a few elite segments of society benefit from illegals’ cheap labor and the rest of us get stuck with the bill. Americans who cook their own meals, clean their own houses, raise their own children and mow their own yards end up effectively paying a tax so that “cheap labor” can sustain the profits and cushion the lifestyles of the few.

Americans are sick and tired of it. We want our elected representatives to stop illegal immigration. It’s said that Americans “lack the political will,” but I doubt that is the case. Americans have the political will. The problem is our politicians, who have little political will and lots of political won’t.

SANDRA MILLER

Phoenix

Crustacean liberation

Actor Edward Furlong, who recently tried to free lobsters from a grocery-store tank in Florence, Ky., is not the only advocate of crustacean liberation (“Liberator jailed,” Taking Names, Arts Etc., Tuesday). People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals frequently hears from concerned consumers who want to help after watching lobsters languishing in local supermarket tanks.

Take a look the next time you’re at the store: Often, lobster tanks are filthy and overcrowded, with lobsters piled one on top of the other. Many lobsters in supermarket tanks are never fed, to prevent the water from becoming contaminated with excrement — meaning the animals are slowly starving.

If stores kept live pigs or chickens crammed in tiny glass tanks with recipes suggesting that the animals be boiled alive, there’d be a lot more vegetarians. To learn more, visit www.lobsterlib.com.

PAULA MOORE

Senior writer

People for the Ethical Treatment

of Animals

Norfolk

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