Bear-Bear bill has more than a few potential traps

February 20, 2011

I have not read the entire "Bear-Bear" bill ("'Bear-Bear bill' activists rally in Annapolis," Feb. 18.), but it appears emotionally-driven, misinformed decision-making continues in Maryland.

This could just be the way the liberal, sensationalist media portray this issue, but caution should be exercised before passing this bill without clear definitions. The bill could easily be used and misconstrued by the animal rights nuts to include farmers, hunters, and those exercising the right to self-defense or protection of others.

A child is mauled by a large dog, but no one intervenes because they are afraid they will be seen as "abusing" an animal. A farmer decides to harvest a couple of chickens to feed his family when a passerby sees him kill the chicken and "perceives" this as cruelty and files a police report. A hunter shoots a deer and the animal runs into the road where a passing motorist "perceives" it as cruelty, filing a police report against the hunter.

Granted there are extreme cases (setting animals on fire, for instance) where cruelty is just that, cruelty, and in those cases, punishment to the fullest extent of the law doesn't seem like enough. However, we have to be careful that a knee-jerk emotional reaction doesn't place legitimate use of animals at risk.

I hope our elected officials have the sense to cover the definitions wisely and not throw the rest of us — the voters who put them into office — under the bus to please a few emotional pet owners. And yes, I have dogs, chickens, horses and love every one of them, but in the end they are animals, not humans.

Don Lyons

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