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Cruelty to Animals in Our Own Backyards

July 31, 2002

"Opossum Killings Test Limits of Cruelty Cases" (July 29) did not educate enough about how harmless to humans opossums are and why they are desirable to have around our yards and homes. They are nocturnal, so coming across one in the dark is scary. They hiss and show their teeth when they are frightened, but they don't bite humans. Indeed, if humans get too close, they freeze and appear to be dead, i.e., "play possum."

This actually is an involuntary, shock-like state. I decided not to bother with traps or any efforts to remove them from hanging around my yard in the middle of Los Angeles when I learned that they dine on insects, cockroaches, snails, mice, rats and occasionally snakes. So opossums are welcome to hold midnight picnics in my yard to control these pests and allow me to avoid using pesticides and insecticides that may be much more dangerous to human health.

Linda Fishman

Los Angeles

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The photograph says it all. Tragic cruelty. Torturous suffering of a little opossum shot full of arrows that bravely kept on walking until it was beaten to death. For shame! Such vile evil must not be tolerated.

Katrelya Angus

Sierra Madre

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Webster's dictionary defines "discretion" as the ability to make responsible decisions. Obviously The Times was not using discretion when publishing the sickening picture of the opossum wounded by crossbow arrows. A well-written article with explicit details could have achieved the same impact without the gruesome photo, the likes of which belong on the rack next to the supermarket tabloids.

Bert Barden

Newport Beach

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Anyone who has confronted an opossum in his or her yard, house or whatever can confirm that they are unpleasant, even frightening, pests. I have three dogs and consider myself an "animal lover," but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society are really over the top. Do they plan to begin filing charges against people who use mousetraps? Insecticides? Will they come after me if I try to kill the crows that destroy my garden?

What if someone ate the opossum? Would it be OK to kill it then? Or will they push for saving the cows, pigs, etc.?

Todd Engle

Los Angeles

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