Increase the penalty for those involved in dogfightingOne...

Letters to the Editor

April 04, 1999

Increase the penalty for those involved in dogfighting

One of our members shared with us the very comprehensive article ("Police raid suspected dogfight," March 22) by Amy Oakes on the dogfight raid in the Villa Nova area. What a telling portrayal -- a bloody plywood fighting ring and a "Beware of Dog" sign posted near a child's slide.

It is unfortunate that the Baltimore police think this is merely a sporadic incident. This heinous and atavistic "blood sport" is pervasive throughout the country and, obviously from this incident, dogfighting is well-organized in your area.

State Del. George Owings is absolutely correct about the link between animal cruelty and human violence. Can we believe that the 2-year-old girl had a safe, kind and gentle life in this household while the family pet was being torn apart to satisfy a thirst for blood, violence and for the money wagered on it?

It is hard for the average person to comprehend the torturous and horrific conditions imposed upon these dogs for their "training," (not to mention what befalls the innocent pet or stray that is stolen or wanders in to become "blood bait") This, along with deliberate breeding, has mutated what were once loyal family pets into killing machines.

Dogfighting is a felony in California because our legislators realize not only the inhumanity but also its realted criminal activities (drugs, gambling, illegal weapons) and the potentially tragic consequences on the entire population. Recently, Italy and France enacted laws requiring the spaying or neutering of pit bulls and prohibited their importation.

Maryland lawmakers would be well advised to listen to Mr. Owings and to Debbie Thomas of the Baltimore Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and increase the penalties on dogfighting and other animal cruelty.

Phyllis M. Daugherty, Los Angeles

The writer is co-director of the Animal Issues Movement.

Maryland can afford after-school programs

The Sun recognized the need for quality after-school programs in its editorial "Assembly's home stretch" (March 22) on legislation before the Maryland General Assembly. However, the suggestion that the state is not yet ready for one of the tax-credit bills that would help the parents of Maryland's million school-age children pay for these programs is, at best, shortsighted.

Working parents in Maryland would have received $30 million in tax credits to pay for a percentage of their child care and after-school expenses under legislation introduced in the General Assembly earlier this year. That legislation has been amended to offer $6 million in tax credit relief. The tax credit equals only 5 percent of the actual costs. Yet, this 5 percent could make the difference, especially among families who must spend as much as 40 percent of their take-home pay on after-school programs.

If Maryland can offer $44 million in tax breaks to the Marriott Corp., can't we afford $6 million for working parents?

Maryland will receive hundreds of millions of additional dollars every year from the tobacco lawsuit settlement and proposed tobacco tax increases.

Parents, police and educators know the value of after-school programs. These programs provide havens for our children in an increasingly dangerous society, but, even more significantly, they provide services and support to build skills that help our children become successful adults.

We need to create more after-school programs in Maryland. But we also need to make them financially accessible to parents in need of such care.

Tax-credit legislation is a responsible way to do just that.

Jann Jackson, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Advocates for Children and Youth.

Public needs equal say with large corporations

It all seems so reasonable. Marriott believes it essential that its shareholders get as good a deal from Maryland as possible. Our governor doesn't want to be accused of losing Marriott to Virginia. The result? Maryland citizens fork over millions to a corporation with a market capitalization in excess of $8 billion, and Marriott keeps its corporate offices in Maryland.

So what's the problem? It isn't only that Marriott is suspected of having kept information from Maryland about Marriott's lack of interest in Virginia. Perhaps, as Raymond Murphy, vice president of finance for Marriott, attempted to describe in a recent column, Marriott had done nothing wrong regarding that.

The problem is that our government, along with the government of other states, is being forced to consider the desires of large corporations rather than those of citizens. In the case of Maryland: $220 million for a stadium for Art Modell's football team (the stadium will be in use a total of 50 hours a year), toleration beyond reason of the chicken industry's pollution of the Eastern Shore and now a payoff to Marriott.

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