Letters to the Editor
Vail Daily, Vail Colorado COVeterinarian’s viewI would like to render my humble, yet professional and possibly expert opinion on the matter of Max and Zoie.As a veterinarian, parent of three and political activist for my profession, I have sat on both sides of this fence as well as on top of it. And I’ve had to put my own dog to sleep for an unprovoked attack on a child.First let me tell you about Clark, my beautiful, loving and gentle great Dane. Clark was truly a gentle giant, never having shown an ounce of ill will towards any living creature. One day while we were all outside barbecuing, 3-year-old Clark attacked 6-year-old Cathleen as she walked by him; both had been friends since Clark was a puppy. We all saw what happened; it was ugly and unprovoked. I took Clark to my veterinary hospital, and everyone else went with Cathleen to the hospital, where she got a few head stitches and left traumatized but was otherwise in good shape. The next day Clark made an aggressive gesture towards another child while he was leashed up behind the receptionist’s desk. I made a few phone calls to experts confirming what I knew had to be done. Then, with tears in our eyes, my head technician Tina and I gave Clark a fatal injection of barbiturates in an exam room while everyone else cried outside the door. I knew it had to be done. Excuse me while I wipe my eyes. OK, now that I’m back, let me tell you another short story. My friends’ 2-year-old son, Austin, lifted the lid of the hot tub, snuck in, and drowned at a family barbecue. An immeasurable amount of pain and suffering described in one short sentence. His grandparents were watching him while his parents were on vacation. There were 25 other family members there that Sunday night, too, and they all turned their back for just a moment and then someone asked “where’s Austin?” Family Services/HRS was not called, by the way.It seems to me that what happened with Max and Zoie was a terrible accident, one where both sides feel responsible and horrible. Accidents have victims. Zoie will pay with her pain and her physical and mental scars. Max will pay, too, and maybe with his life. Where the accident occurred really shouldn’t matter now, should it? Think about that.I’ve been a veterinarian for 20 years, have been an executive board member and president of a very large veterinary medical association in Florida, and chaired the ethics committee for five years. I’ve had to put many aggressive animals to sleep over the years. As veterinarians, we have our finger on the pulse of this issue. My profession is overwhelmingly against breed-banning ordinances. However, we overwhelmingly support curbing aggressive animals and assuring that their owners are responsible for their actions. Surveys show that most of us feel companion animal owners should be viewed upon legally as property owners and not guardians. We also know Americans wholeheartedly view their pets as family members; the human animal bond is extremely strong. Right now we are at a crossroads of legal issues/political correctness versus common sense. Personally I hope common sense prevails. This issue, like most, has shades of gray. I have always advised my clients not to take chances with large aggressive animals; human life is too precious. As humans we sit on top of the food chain. Yes, we have brains capable of conscious thought, which we arrogantly and presumptuously think may separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom. But we are still animals living in nature. Natural law says to protect not only your kin but also your species. If Max attacked my daughter in my presence, in the heat of the moment I might have wanted to kill him on the spot, too. Who really knows? I haven’t left us with any answers or conclusions, have I? That’s because there are no clear-cut answers here. Max probably deserves a second chance. His owner appears remorseful and willing to do whatever is necessary to save his life. In my opinion, Max should be closely supervised, quarantined, muzzled and visited by animal-health-care professionals periodically. But, honestly, my opinion is formulated without direct knowledge of the brutality of the attack. The type of attack should be an important consideration, too. If it was truly a brutal attack, he should probably be put down or at the least be rescued by an organization that will find him a home working as a guard dog. A mauling is very different from a nip or even a single bite and should have different consequences. The courts can decide Max’s owner’s liability. (By the way, I paid for Cathleen’s hospital visit, bought her some gifts to cheer her up and we all remained good friends and neighbors. People usually don’t sue people they feel do the right thing.) Working animals – guard dogs, police dogs, military dogs – are permitted to be aggressive and are closely monitored. There are guidelines governing their behavior. Companion animals are not as tightly regulated. Should they be afforded the same status as working dogs? Remember, folks, Max is not an ankle biter. He is a large-breed dog who has for whatever reason attacked a child. He is capable of inflicting fatal injuries. Fatal. If he shows the slightest bit of aggression again, his owner should do what she knows needs to be done. Without being told to do so. She might consider doing it now anyway, shedding the many tears like I and countless others have, and moving forward.Stephen Sheldon, DVMGypsum Animal HospitalHelps to tellWhile I was reading your article on the Internet crimes unit developed by the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. It made me wonder how come the Vail Daily did not state that the Eagle Police Department was involved with the Colorado Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force from 1999 to 2003. The Eagle Police Depart-ment, through the work of Paul Ramsay, was the only Western Slope contact for three years. And resulted in a number of arrests.The arrest were done out of county involving other agencies due to manpower and re-sources. The Eagle Police Depart-ment was also involved in education a number of follow-ups that that came through the task force and through citizens. How come nothing was mentioned about this? William Barnard Eagle Costly mealWhat does Oscar Meyer deliver to the local supermarket that you can buy for about 50 cents, is cylindrical, about 4 ounces in weight, maybe 5 to 6 inches long, grills up real fast, has to be transported up the mountain (let’s not forget that) and costs $8.50 ?A hot dog on Vail Mountain! (The mustard is free !) Give me a break !Jeff LaskyVailGreat supportThe state champion Battle Mountain High School girls varsity volleyball team and coaches would like to thank the following businesses and individuals for contributing goods and services for our post-season tournaments hosted at Battle Mountain High School. We appreciate your generous donations! The continued support of our business community and families of the Battle Mountain High School student-athletes is overwhelming. First, we would like to thank the administrative team: Principal Brian Hester, Assistant Principal Phil Qualman, Dean of Students Geoff Grimmer, Athletic Secretary Dena Martinez and Athletic Director Rich Houghton for their countless hours of ongoing support and commitment to athletics at BMHS. Thank you to the BMHS Super Boosters for publishing the tournament programs, to the trainers from Steadman Hawkins who helped us throughout the season, to Mr. Loetscher, Mr. Hohmann, Mr. Velasquez, Ms. Volitor, Ms. Abbott, Ms. Landauer, Dave Mangiello and the entire Battle Mountain staff. Thanks for always being there and serving in many different capacities. The following businesses and individuals generously donated fabulous food and beverages for both tournaments that we hosted: Sue Marquez and Fiestas, Brian Nolan and Blue Moose, McDonald’s of Vail, Jim and Jane Comerford and Subway of Edwards, Jodi Tronsrue, Sonnenalp Golf Club, Starbucks of Avon, Pazzo’s Pizza of Avon, Terry and Winnie Marcum and Shop and Hop, Safeway, City Market and Kevin and Marcelle McMillin. Thanks to the following supporters who were always there for us: Lori Brown, team mom and Super Booster representative; Winnie Marcum, ad sales coordinator and decorator extraordinaire; John Nichols and Larry “the Statistician” Simmons for broadcasting our games on KZYR from every corner of the state; Mike Thul for his photographs; and Clifford Rodrick for doing such an awesome job running the concession stand. Thanks to the Vail Daily sports staff and photographers for the great coverage throughout the season. Thanks to Plum TV and KZYR for broadcasting our games. Lastly, to the community, parents and students, your support throughout the season was truly amazing! Seeing so many of you at the Denver Coliseum witnessing our sweep of the 4A State Tournament made the moment that much sweeter. As a sign of the times, Nanci Ricci and her entire Red Sandstone Elementary School student body bid us farewell from the Pedestrian Bridge in Vail as we headed out of town. How cool was that? The BMHS State Champion Volleyball TeamDevon Abbott, Britney Brown, Alexa Corcoran, Kendra Havlik, Kori Landauer, Sofia Lindroth, Annie Marcum, Sydney Nichols, Allie O’Connor, Nicole Penwill, Crystin Rodrick, Sarah Simmons, Jennifer Thul, Coach Brian Doyon, Coaches Karl and Lisa Talcott and Coach Innes
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