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letters 11/16

November 16, 1999

Too much fur on parade

To the editor:

I was dismayed by the large number of pageant winners in the Alsatia Mummer's Parade who chose to wear fur coats. These women apparently believe fur is a symbol of style and elegance. However, these women fail to take into consideration how the original owners of these coats met their gruesome deaths.

Approximately 3.5 million fur bearing animals - raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, lynxes, beavers and others are killed each year by fur trappers in the U.S. Another 2.7 million are raised on fur farms. Steel-jawed leghold traps are most widely used. This simple, barbaric device is banned in 63 countries and four states in the U.S. due to its inhumane nature. When an animal steps on a leghold trap, steel jaws slam on the animal's limb. One out of every 4 trapped animals escapes by chewing or twisting off his or her own feet in a desperate attempt to escape the trap.

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The animals often die later from blood loss, fever, gangrene or predation. The animals that are unable to escape often remain in pain for hours or even days. They suffer exhaustion, exposure, frostbite, shock and painful lacerations to their limbs. When the trapper returns, the animal is killed by being strangled, beaten or stomped to death to avoid damage to their fur.

Animals on fur farms may be gassed, electrocuted, poisoned with strychnine, or have their necks snapped. These methods are not 100 percent effective and some animals 'wake up' while being skinned. Victims of waterset traps, including beavers and muskrats, take up to 20 minutes to drown.

Many owners of fur garments probably have household pets that they cherish. Many people probably do not realize their own beloved pets could fall victim to a trap set to capture a fur bearing animal. Each year, thousands of dogs, cats, and birds (including endangered species such as the bald eagle) are killed or crippled by traps. Trappers call these animals 'trash' animals because they have no monetary value and are simply thrown away.

Steel-jawed traps represent a cruel and inhumane reality that exists in the fur industry. Trapping will become obsolete when people stop purchasing fur. Animals should not be fashion victims!

Lisa Bailey

Martinsburg, W.Va.

Equipment could have been saved

To the editor:

I worked for nearly 32 years in Washington County Instructional Television, retiring in 1990 as chief engineer, but I am writing this letter as a citizen and taxpayer.

During this past summer, Dr. William Brish died. The Hagerstown Daily Mail newspaper called Dr. Brish a "great innovator."

In 1956, he pushed technology in the classroom in Washington County. The Daily Mail also noted that "He pioneered educational television, an innovation that became a model for school systems in Maryland, the nation and eventually the world."

It is ironic that, as Dr. Brish died, the last television studio at the Board of Education was torn out and the equipment discarded. Possibly television could have helped our schools through the impending shortage of teachers as it did in the 1960s, but it has been thrown away and the taxpayers' money with it. Yes, the equipment was old, but it still made television, and it could have been upgraded in time. Other school systems are using television in innovative ways. It is a shame that the present cadre at the BOE central office does not have some of Dr. Brish's vision and leadership for the new millennium.

You, along with the other members of the elected Board of Education sit as a oversight body for the educational professionals. Please don't let them squander our tax money with their apparently limited foresight.

Tom Hefelfinger

Hagerstown

Good business

To the editor:

What has happened to the ideals of good business practice? In toady's hectic world of computers and e-mail, it is practically impossible to call a business and get a real live person on the phone. Then you leave a message that you want some service performed at your home and maybe, just maybe, you may get a return call in three or four days. More often than not, you get no response.

Recently, when we received the winds of "Floyd" we had a large tree damaged in our front yard. We telephoned Preferred Arbor Care on Jefferson Street and actually got the owner, Jamie Lowery on the phone. Within 15 minutes he had his man Don, there to inspect the tree. Don recommended we top the tree in order to save it but he didn't feel there was any rush. He said to call when we wanted it done.

Last Friday, I phoned and did get the answering machine but within 10 minutes Jamie phoned back and we set up an appointment for Monday morning. Monday morning Jamie called and said they would be there within a half hour, and they were.

It is such a pleasure to again deal with caring and responsible people. If only there were more like the folks at Preferred Arbor Care.

Sylvia E. Kline

Hagerstown

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