Humane Society urges crackdown on dog fightingThe Humane...

Letters to the Editor

April 20, 1999

Humane Society urges crackdown on dog fighting

The Humane Society of Baltimore County is concerned about the tragic problem of dogfighting.

We urge the State's Attorney's office to prosecute those arrested for dog fighting to the fullest extent of the law and push for maximum sentences, including jail time. We call on judges to impose stiff sentences for anyone convicted of dog fighting or even of being a spectator at a dogfight.

Dog fighters obtain dogs and cats from "free to a good home" ads or they simply steal beloved family pets. These unfortunate animals are tied up and the fighting dogs are encouraged to rip them apart. And the training the dogs are often put through is particularly gruesome.

One of the reasons that dog fighting must be treated as a serious crime is that numerous studies have documented a strong link between violent abuse of animals and violence to people. Research in fact suggests that animal abuse is the strongest predictor of violence against people.

The Humane Society is offering a $500 reward for anyone providing information leading to an arrest and indictment on charges of dog fighting or being a spectator at a dogfight within Baltimore County. Anyone with information should call the Police Department at 911.

Frank C. Branchini

Reisterstown

The writer is executive director of the Humane Society of Baltimore County Inc.

Allow the dying to choose a decent end

Our Maryland representatives who have banned doctor assisted suicide -- or, better put, death with dignity -- surely must not have watched a loved one die from a terminal illness.

Maybe my mother's death can serve as a lesson. Last January, she died from ovarian cancer.

Because of her weakened state, surgery would have killed her. Her tumor blocked her intestines and urinary tract and she could no longer eat or drink. Her belly swelled so large it appeared that she was pregnant.

Unfortunately, the morphine drip did not take away all of her pain. Any more morphine, the doctors said, "could kill her."

When she could still speak, my mother asked to die with dignity. We so wanted to help her, but we were powerless.

If they had been able to help her die sooner, her doctors, besides sparing her from senseless suffering, could have spared her from painful and humiliating indignities like daily enemas and bedsores and intervenous needles that left her hurt and bruised.

What a godsend if her doctors could have assisted in her death. She could have died with dignity. She did not. Instead she suffered, and we carry the awful memories of her suffering with us.

If terminally ill patients feel they have suffered too many indignities and cannot endure more pain, then they should have the right to choose when to end their lives. Wouldn't you want that choice?

The state of Oregon has enacted a law that enables the terminally ill to die with dignity. If Oregon can write such a law, so should our Maryland representatives.

Sherrill I. Kuc

Ellicott City

Testing kids' hearing early will help them learn

I would like to congratulate Maryland's legislators for passing bills requiring Maryland hospitals to screen newborns for hearing defects.

Hearing loss is the most widespread chronic problem for young children, but because it is invisible, it is also among the least recognized. Parents must not underestimate the impact of hearing problems -- even mild hearing loss can seriously impede a child's growth and learning process. And the longer it takes to diagnose and treat the hearing loss the more severe the learning handicap can be.

Studies have shown that without a universal infant hearing screening program in place, the average age of identification of hearing loss is 2. By then, valuable development time has been lost. The brain of the young child is wired to learn speech and language between birth and age 4. If hearing loss is not identified until the child is 2 or even older, the process of catching up is more difficult than with an earlier diagnosis.

Now, under the new law, infants born with hearing impairments will gain access to early treatment, when it can be most effective.

Stephen Seipp

Lutherville

The writer is an audiologist at the Hearing Assessment Center Inc.

N. Ireland's police didn't deserve criticism

Maureen Martindale ought to get her facts straight before she sends a letter to the editor ("One-sided reporting undermines Irish peace," April 12).

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), Northern Ireland's Police Service, was not, as she claimed, "ordered to disband under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement." The agreement calls for review, but does not mandate that it be disbanded.

The letter asserts that "international human rights organizations" have condemned the RUC for "its acts of violence against civilians." Yet the letter doesn't name any of these organizations.

The RUC has trained with the FBI and the Irish police. Surely, these forces would not deal with the RUC if they were as bad as suggested.

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