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Martinez and Sneak Sales of Pets to Labs

February 11, 1988

Al Martinez, in a piece titled "Dog and Man" (Feb. 1), ignores important issues suggested by the recent exposure of two Sun Valley kennels that provided labs with dogs fraudulently procured from their guardians. Instead, he launches a pointless--and astonishingly feeble--attack on the animal-rights activists who exposed the affair, characterizing them as--brace yourself--"a scruffy bunch."

What motivates Martinez's hostility? It seems that he was treated rudely by a demonstrator who grabbed at his notebook outside one of the kennels. Evidently unaccustomed to such incivility in the city known for freeway gunfights, Martinez reacts by lashing out widely, branding all animal activists as "crazy-eyed zealots" who "are excessively emotional." As if the exploitation, not to mention theft, of dogs were a subject unworthy of strong feelings.

With what he must have imagined to be his knockout punch, Martinez suggests that if the protesters are serious, they should "take the place of those animals destined for the labs." Right. Any anyone critical of the beatings of Palestinians in Israel should volunteer to be beaten instead.

Had Martinez bothered to investigate, he would have found other local instances in which people, leery of the shelter system, gave unwanted pets to con artists who had promised to provide the animals good homes. In 1986, for instance, a woman was convicted for running a fraudulent animal home-finding service.

Such activity is an inevitable result of shelters' providing animals to labs, but there is pending legislation that would help. The Pet Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Robert Mrazek (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Wendell Ford (D-Ky.), would cut off most federal funding of research institutions that use animals obtained from shelters. It is such legislation, not the manners of protesters, that deserves attention--and support.

STEVEN ZAK

North Hollywood

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