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Disturbing Decision

November 29, 1987

Opponents of pound seizures were greatly disappointed when the county's animal control advisory committee recently voted 5-2 (with the chairman abstaining) to continue San Diego County's contract with UC San Diego for pet sales to the university for laboratory experiments. The committee seemed unable (or unwilling) to grasp the central issue--that opponents to the contract are not attacking or threatening animal research, only the source of these animals--in this case our pets.

Instead, the committee members' comments (or rationalizations) clearly established that they put UCSD's interests above those of the citizens and pets they supposedly represent. They also ignored upwards of 1,000 petition signatures and numerous letters calling for an end to pound seizure. By their vote they repudiated universally accepted humane shelter practices and have perpetuated our county animal shelters as warehouses for UCSD researchers. In short, the committee in its unwise decision acted far more like a UCSD lobbyist than adviser to the county Board of Supervisors.

The decision would probably have been far different if the county Department of Animal Control and its director had taken a professional and ethical stand against pound seizure. Thousands of principled departments across the country do just that. We had the testimony of one such director (from San Bernardino) at the hearing on Sept. 9. In fact, of the state's 58 counties only seven continue the sale of pets, a practice condemned by enlightened humane societies and shelters across America.

Nevertheless, San Diego County's director of animal control will not take a stand, seeing her role as coat-holder while pet advocates and UCSD do battle. But this irresponsible cynicism won't wash; the director's position on the issue is quite clear. Every time she delivers up a new batch of our pets to UCSD in violation of all accepted humane shelter principles, the director and the department silently and obediently betray their trust--and it's important the public know that.

MARY ANN MELVIN

Director, Stop Taking Our Pets

Solana Beach

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