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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

There's no excuse for animal neglect

Western New York animal lovers were greatly saddened to see that the young horse Black Jack died. The emaciated thoroughbred had been rescued, and was being cared for by Judith Miller, but he had been neglected for too long to recover. It is such a tragedy. We have to find a way to end the abuse and neglect of animals who depend on us for their care. It is a person's choice to take on the responsibility to care for an animal, and it should be taken seriously.

If you find you can't give an animal proper care, please let someone know. Call the SPCA or any of the animal rescue organizations in Western New York and ask for their help. Write to The News. Contact the Police. But don't abandon, abuse or neglect an animal that relies on you for his care. Western New York is filled with caring, compassionate people.

Let's work together to end the neglect that is out there and give animals a chance at a better life, so they don't end up like Black Jack.

Sue Jolls



All owners had to do was ask for some help

As an animal lover, I am outraged over the death of Black Jack. There is no excuse for the condition of these horses. Had these people asked the community to help these starving animals, there would have been an outpouring of help. You can't tell me that these animals were between a "rock and a hard place" because of the bankruptcy. That is a poor excuse.

If these people are not prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, then we should re-examine our present laws. My heart and thanks go out to all who helped these suffering animals.

Shirley I. Reitebach

East Amherst


Court-appointed trustee must be held accountable

My deepest condolences to nurse Judith Miller and feed store owner Steven Nelson for their valiant efforts to save this wonderful little colt. Unfortunately, he had no reserves left and died. Since Judy and her son are riding partners of mine, I visited Black Jack on Dec. 31 and also thought that he may have a chance. But it was not meant to be.

So now I question the actions or lack thereof of the court-appointed trustee. Since he declared that the animals on this bankrupt farm were "assets," he therefore became morally and legally responsible for their care.

Unfortunately, it never dawned on him that horses need to eat and drink in order to survive. Is this his idea of preservation of assets? If the presiding judge does not look into this incompetency, then perhaps the Bar Association should.

Walter A. Palka



Two should be barred from owning animals

The Jan. 4 front-page News story regarding the neglected horses in Somerset was heart-wrenching. There is no justification for the misery and neglect of these animals just because there was an ongoing bankruptcy. These women, Candice Starkweather and Julie Walker, need to be cited, fined stiffly and ordered to never again own an animal of any kind.

Were it not for the good people who adopted the horses, namely nurse Judith Miller and feed store owner Steven Nelson, as well as other unidentified good samaritans, more horses would have perished. These people are real heroes. I suspect there may have been more to this story than just the bankruptcy. Those horses were worth thousands of dollars, but only if they were in tiptop condition.

Donna M. Duszczak



Holt should resign his post immediately

How can County Legislator George Holt fail to hand over $20,000 in sales taxes, which were collected in 2004 and set aside? Were they set aside and placed in his pocket? Where did this money go? In an all-too-familiar speech, Holt apologized for "offending or letting anyone down" but, he adds, he has "always served sincerely with both heart and mind." Hey, George, I would love to hear your definition of "sincerely."

Holt has been a repeat tax offender -- these violations go back to 2003. How dare he seek another two-year term. He is nothing more than a common criminal and should be forced to resign immediately. Just how effective has he been over the past few months in the Legislature, scrambling to come up with an excuse of why he didn't pay his taxes? Holt needs to go back to an honest profession, one where he can learn the value of a dollar. I hear Mattie's is looking for a dishwasher.

Jim Lion Jr.



Holt's apology is meaningless

George Holt's "apology" is the straw that broke this voter's back. A message to all politicians (corporate executives and celebrities, too): It's not an apology if it contains the words "if" or "but." "And" is acceptable, but only when immediately followed by the steps you are going to take to make amends.

John Marschke

Niagara Falls


Our elected officials mock justice system

It is appalling how our elected officials have made a mockery of our judicial system. Alan Hevesi, our former state comptroller, gets a lecture from a New York State judge for misappropriation of state taxpayer funds, his second offense of his career. Erie County Legislator George Holt, another elected official, gets his hand slapped for not paying his sales tax for two years. It is time to hold these lifetime politicians, judges and lawyers accountable and to the same standards as the average Joe. Or else we can just change the Pledge of Allegiance to say "and justice for all, except New York State elected officials."

Sebastian Foti



We're really scraping the bottom of the barrel

Is the political talent pool so shallow that we have to have people like County Legislator George Holt representing us? If it is, I guess what we have is what we deserve.

John Lincoln

East Aurora


Bush must be living in a fantasy world

The Bush-Cheney team has been out of step with the vast majority of Americans for almost four years. Iraq commentary from the White House has been subject to deceiving spin since the invasion of Iraq. Do you remember the comment: "The vast majority of Iraq is peaceful. When you fly over it, there is no disruption to be seen"? Mr. President, that is desert land down there, and the Iraqis are not growing flowers to toss at our troops.

Perhaps now that President Bush has fired his two top generals in Iraq, we will begin hearing the unabashed truth for a change. Generals John Abizaid and George Casey have expressed reservations about the potential effectiveness of boosting troop strength in Iraq. Kiss their future promotions farewell. When you disagree with the military "genius" in the Oval Office, you will bite the bullet.

I'd bet the media are frothing at the mouth waiting for the generals to be available for honest discussion.

Philip L. Wiggle



Illegal war has cost U.S. its moral standing

As a print journalist of 35-plus years, I'm opposed to any more of my tax money being spent to fund an illegal and immoral war.

Our country has lost its moral standing in the world with all the death and destruction this war has caused. Our leaders must be held responsible and investigations begun. Just follow the money trail.

It will take years for us to recover from the national debt alone, which will cripple generations to come.

Hanford Searl

East Aurora


Nation must reduce its dependence on oil

A recent letter accurately stated that, despite being angry about Iraq, most Americans do not care enough. During the Vietnam War, thousands of protesters gathered in cities around the country. The draft was in force, and one cannot help but wonder whether the young were motivated by a fear of dying in Southeast Asia.

We must admit that the U.S. policy in the Middle East is closely linked to our energy needs, namely oil. It is obvious that we need to shift to alternative forms of energy for this century. The subsequent reduction in air pollution is one salient reason.

But more importantly, we would no longer be held hostage to the chaos of the Middle East. This view is hardly new or original. But I strongly believe that many Americans fail to understand the solution. Yes, it is all too easy to blame the politicians, and indeed they are to blame.

However, we lack the will to move toward new energy and thus reduce terrorist threats. The populace must demand change. This will not happen until politicians realize that catering to oil interests will doom them to defeat.

Joseph H. Gusky



Council should prohibit animal acts in circuses

It's so wonderful that Buffalo is considering a ban on exotic animals in circuses. With all the reports of circus animal suffering and the undercover videos of brutal animal training, it seems impossible that anyone would still try to justify the use of elephants and tigers in traveling animal acts.

In a recent News article, Council Majority Leader Dominic Bonifacio said some will likely argue that a circus will draw a lot of people, which will boost business in Buffalo. After parents buy the tickets, expensive souvenirs and treats, do they have any money left to traipse around the city looking for more things to do? They probably get in their cars and leave.

I am heartened that the Council members seem to be taking this issue seriously. I hope this means that the exotic animals, and not the people who profit off animal misery, will be the winners.

Frances R. Fazzino



We can no longer justify use of animals in circus

I wholeheartedly support the recommendation to ban exotic animal acts in circuses. Decades ago, we didn't have as many things to entertain us as we do today, so going to the circus was a big deal. Decades ago, we didn't know any better, either. We probably thought that exotic animals were lucky to be in the circus. We thought nothing of seeing the animals being prodded and poked during the show.

Decades of thorough studies reveal amazing things about animals and their behavior. We would be hard-pressed to ignore these enlightening and educational findings. Subjecting exotic animals to a life of confinement in cages and traveling vans, behind-the-scenes cruelty and performing unnatural acts is degrading not only to them, but to us as well.

We should know better. We could learn so much more about exotic animals in a sanctuary setting. Left to themselves, doing what they do naturally, is entertaining enough.

Michele Zaichuk

Lake View


McLeod writes warm, intelligent columns

Having read the letters to the editor complaining about Lisa's Earle McLeod's recent column, "In search of the lost libido," I feel compelled to write. McLeod writes a warm, intelligent and humorous column about family life, and this column was no exception. It contained nothing sexually explicit, and the gentle humor about the difficulty of sustaining the sexual aspect of marriage through the demands of children, careers and housekeeping certainly must have hit home with many readers.

Her implied suggestion that spicing things up a bit might do everyone good may have actually helped strengthen a few marriages. I would think the "pro-family" people would approve of that. But maybe they are too busy defending us all from gay marriage to worry about it.

Leanna S. White



Perhaps column hit too close to home

Recently, I have read some perplexing letters that criticized Lisa Earle McLeod's pre-Christmas commentary, "In search of the lost libido." Having missed the column, I went back through my newspaper stack, found it and read it.

By first personalizing the subject, then bringing in research, expert testimony and recommended prescriptions for improving one's sex life, McLeod put together, in my opinion, a thoughtful, well-written article on a highly relevant and prevalent topic. Her delicate handling of what for some people is still a sensitive subject was very professional.

This leads me to think that people who were offended by the column perhaps were resentful for McLeod's delving into a matter that hit too close to home.

Michael Silverman



Column didn't destroy 'state of matrimony'

I am writing in defense of Lisa Earle McLeod's Dec. 23 column in the Weekend Life section titled, "In search of the lost libido." It was one of the funniest columns I have ever read. I do not believe it destroyed the beautiful state of matrimony, as one letter writer claimed, but that it proved how healing a sense of humor can be.

McLeod's intention was to make us laugh, and that she did. I meant to e-mail her to tell her my husband and I both chuckled and also spoke to friends who had also read the column and agreed that it was hilarious.

Diana Notaro


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