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Letters to the Editor 

Published July 17, 2013 at 4:11 a.m.

Small Mart, not Walmart

[Re “Promise Land,” July 10]: I was disappointed to read your coverage of “growth” coming to Newport, specifically in the form of a Walmart supercenter and its attendant parking lot, blight, litter, tainted stormwater runoff, etc. Of all the big-box retailers, Walmart has an especially ugly record in killing off locally owned and operated businesses and even entire downtowns. Remember, there is nothing wrong with a town staying small and not getting caught up in the growth-for-the-sake-of-growth machine.

Alan C. Gregory


Pride of Place

I am surprised there was no mention of Magog, Québec, in the article about Newport [“Promise Land,” July 10]. Earlier this year, I visited Magog, which is right across the lake from Newport. I was totally impressed. It was a vital town, with lots of thriving little businesses, B&Bs, spas on the river, breweries, a chocolatier, nuns making cheese, cider, a boardwalk over the wetlands, lavender fields, bike trails — and all well advertised. They are so proud of their town, and all I could think of is that Newport could be that and more. They only had one kind of cheese! With all our Vermont farmers and locavore activity, Newport could be a great and beautiful destination.

Andrea Miksic


Hearing, but Not Listening

Quite a show by the South Burlington City Council [Off Message: “SoBu Council Supports F-35 Despite Strong Opposition at Noisy Meeting,” July 9; Fair Game, July 10]. Councilor Chris Shaw made it clear he is motivated by honoring his relationship to the Vermont Air National Guard. Of course, maintaining this relationship is not dependent on bedding the F-35 at the Burlington Airport. Seems to me the relationship he is most concerned about is that with his campaign donors.

Councilor Pat Nowak spoke about her displeasure at not being put on the airport commission by the previous council. This came across as an angry woman whining about past grievances that had no bearing on the issue at hand.

Councilor Pam Mackenzie’s motivations are unknown because she refused to share them.

What was clear is that they did not care one whit about the public’s comments. Immediately after hearing from scores of citizens, Nowak read her previously written motion to support the F-35s. This was a slap in the face to all who made the effort to contribute to the discussion, an affront to democratic principles, a lack of integrity and, in short, a sham! I expected more from the council.

Ruth E. Uphold, MD


Pit Bulls**t

We at HSCC were disappointed by your article “Local Ad Campaign Seeks to Soften Pit Bulls’ Dangerous Image” [June 26], which misrepresented our advocacy campaign, and, more importantly, committed the same old mistakes in perpetuating discrimination against dogs as the mainstream media have for decades. We support providing both sides of a story, but this article’s unbalanced focus on pit-bull-bite testimonials and inclusion of nonscientific attack “statistics” only causes further damage to dogs who are guilty of nothing more than looking a certain way. Where are the facts we provided about the inherent flaws of generalizing about any dog based on its appearance?

The simple truth neglected by this article is that there is no shared genetic lineage among dogs commonly assumed to be “pit bulls.” That term is a social construct based on physical appearance and is so stigmatized that it serves dogs no better than does a racial slur afflicting people. It shouldn’t need to be said that predicting behavioral tendencies based on appearance alone is plain discrimination — and in the case of dogs, such discrimination is causing the mass destruction of thousands of family pets who have no history of violence.

Our pit-bull-advocacy campaign does not seek to “soften a dangerous image.” We hope to obliterate falsity. We seek to instill the truth and end discrimination. We want to encourage people to investigate the facts and question hysteria. We just wish that Seven Days had chosen to help us get the facts out there.

Megan Stearns


Stearns is director of development at the Humane Society of Chittenden County.

Dog Data

[Re “Local Ad Campaign Seeks to Soften Pit Bulls’ Dangerous Image,” June 26]: From 1977 to 1990 I covered the northern Vermont border country for both Vermont and Québec media. In 1982 I began logging fatal and disfiguring dog attack injuries in both the U.S. and Canada. In the 31 years since, 2667 of 4260 dogs involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks were pit bulls; 3443 were in the molosser dog class, which includes pit bulls, rottweilers, mastiffs, boxers and their mixes. Of the 513 human fatalities, 260 were killed by pit bulls; 383 were killed by molosser breeds. Of the 2405 people who were disfigured, 1578 were disfigured by pit bulls; 1992 were disfigured by molosser breeds.

Pit bulls — exclusive of their use in dog fighting — also inflict about 10 times as many fatal and disfiguring injuries on other pets and livestock as on humans, a pattern unique to the pit-bull category. Surveys of dogs offered for sale or adoption indicate that pit bulls and pit mixes are less than 6 percent of the U.S. dog population; molosser breeds, all combined, are 9 percent.

Merritt Clifton

Greenbank, Wash.

Clifton is editor of Animal People.

Work With Wildlife — Don’t Kill It

I was pleased to see Andy Bromage’s article “Bears, Dogs and Hogs — Oh My! Animal-Themed Laws Enacted in 2013” in your June 26 edition. It was with special interest that I read the section regarding legislation that makes it illegal to kill so-called “nuisance” bears without first using nonlethal measures to protect one’s property.

As president of Green Mountain Animal Defenders, I have many opportunities to help people discover humane ways of resolving problems with wildlife. There are many simple, effective ways to coexist with wildlife that do not involve killing animals. Unfortunately, people’s knee-jerk reaction all too often is to reach for a gun or call a trapper.

GMAD played a pivotal role in convincing the University of Vermont to remove deadly beaver traps from Centennial Woods and, since then, our advocacy also persuaded River Watch condos in Burlington to employ a humane alternative to the lethal trapping they had originally planned. We are currently working on humane, effective solutions for several other cases involving a variety of wildlife species.

The most compelling information we often share is that shooting or lethally trapping “nuisance” animals is actually inefficient. When animals are killed, others inevitably move into that desirable habitat. On the flip side, the use of low-cost, effective, humane options is not only the optimal choice for animals but the most effective way to address human-wildlife conflicts.

I encourage everyone to make compassionate choices in their interactions with wildlife and to contact us when advice or assistance is needed: [email protected] or 861-3030.

Sharon MacNair


MacNair is president of Green Mountain Animal Defenders.

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