The Baltimore Sun

Take every form of abuse seriously

The column "Where's outrage for athletes who abuse partners?" (Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 8) complains that people appear to be more outraged by animal abuse than by domestic violence.

I understand the writer's frustration. But I find it strange to compare victims of violence.

Violence itself is the enemy and it should be taken seriously in all its forms. In fact, studies have shown that where there is animal abuse, there is often human abuse, too.

A man who beats his dog is far more likely, statistically, than the average man is to hit his wife and children.

That is why animal organizations such as the Maryland SPCA work with domestic violence groups to help both human and animal abuse victims.

Abusers prey on women, children and pets. Communities need to look out for all victims.

And taking all forms of violence seriously is important because it helps us to bring to justice those who harm any living creature.

Aileen Gabbey


The writer is the executive director of the Maryland SPCA.

Vick's celebrity is source of outrage

Leigh Goodmark asked if "we care more about the fate of a dog than we do that of a woman" in her column "Where's outrage for athletes who abuse partners?" (Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 8).

But I think the furor over the Michael Vick dogfighting case is because the accused, Mr. Vick, is so widely known among sports fans and others; the six athletes Ms. Goodmark cites as abusers of women (and I have to assume they are athletes as I had never heard of five of them) are not well-known nationally.

Had Mr. Vick been accused of spousal abuse, the media attention would have been just as widespread.

Had any of the six people mentioned by Ms. Goodmark been involved with dog fighting, it wouldn't have been more than local news.

Keith DiNardo


Animal abuse linked to other brutality

I agree that all violence must be taken seriously - whether the victim is a woman, a child or a dog ("Where's the outrage for athletes who abuse partners?" Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 8).

That's one reason why People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is pushing for strong action against Michael Vick if he is convicted of dogfighting

Protesting and prosecuting cases of cruelty to animals isn't about putting animals' safety above humans' safety.

Rather, the two concerns go hand-in-hand: People who torture and kill animals for kicks often go on to do the same things to their fellow humans.

Indeed, the FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals regularly appears in its records of serial rapists and murderers.

Experts agree that it is the severity of the behavior - and not the species of the victim - that matters.

It is imperative that animal abusers are aggressively prosecuted and given strict sentences - including jail time, counseling and a ban on contact with animals - to protect everyone's safety.

Martin Mersereau

Norfolk, Va.

The writer is a casework manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Funds sent to Iraq could fix bridges

"Who pays for repairs [of bridges] is issue" (Aug. 9), a Sun front-page headline noted on Thursday.

But when our federal government can spend $12 billion a month for the war in Iraq, it should easily be able to support the cost of bridge repairs, the restoration of New Orleans and universal health care.

But for the president and many lawmakers, Iraqis seem to be more important than their fellow Americans.

Hiroshi Shimizu


Ill-trained doctors serve troops poorly

The Sun's outstanding article "A Doctor at War" (Aug. 5) revealed how desperate the military has become and also said much about the quality of care it delivers to our troops.

As a physician who has been trained in emergency medicine for the last 27 years, I am appalled that the army would send a geriatrician, whose experience in trauma care is minimal at best, to care for our most severely injured troops.

This is analogous to going to your allergist when you have been shot in the head.

There is no way that any physician, no matter how skilled she is, could become fully competent after just three weeks of training in trauma care, even at a center as excellent as the University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center.

Multi-trauma patients are some of the most critically ill people we doctors care for, and it takes years of training and experience to do the job well.

While I am sure that Dr. Heather Cereste is a good physician doing the best she can, it was a severe disservice to her and to our injured troops to put her in a position where she (or others who are similarly under-trained) is responsible for their care.

Dr. Carla Janson


Outraged that city resembles war zone

The Sun's special report "A Doctor at War" (Aug. 5) was enlightening, compelling and horrifying on several levels.

As a U.S. citizen, my heart breaks for our injured soldiers and their families.

As a citizen of Maryland, I am beyond upset that the violence in Baltimore makes this city the perfect training ground for military doctors preparing for war-torn Iraq.

While the article tried to focus on brave soldiers and dedicated physicians, I, for one, had trouble getting past the fact that our city is basically considered to be like a war zone.

What a distinction.

The candidates for mayor better come up with some concrete plans for lowering our crime rate - or that distinction will soon be the only thing this city is known for.

Barbara Blumberg


Decriminalize drugs to curb the killing

Poppy fields are flourishing in Afghanistan, fueling the Taliban's murderous ambition to kill Americans ("A bumper crop of poppies in Afghanistan," Aug. 5).

On the streets of the United States, gangs are killing Americans while politicians are stumbling all over themselves trying to outdo one another as the candidate who will make our streets and our cities safer.

Bridges are crumbling, school buildings are deteriorating, people are going without health care, gas prices are draining the pocketbooks of too many Americans ("Inadequate funding is a continuing issue," Aug. 3).

Yet we build more jails, more prisons, hire more police and continue to spend our treasured resources to fight on in the futile and cynically wasteful war against drugs.

Poignant candlelight vigils will not stop the drug trafficking that has caused the massive drain on our economy or the remorseless killings or the relentless assault on the tranquillity of our lives.

It is way past time for our lawmakers to show some courage and leadership and begin a serious dialogue on decriminalizing drug use and taking the profit out of the drug trade which has been the source of such suffering for too long.

Edward J. Gutman


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