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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Focus More on Helping Pet Owners Cope

August 25, 2004

Re "A Dog's Gotta Do What a Dog's Gotta Do," Commentary, Aug. 20: Mark Derr eloquently illustrates the extent to which people are bringing dogs into their homes while failing to provide the attention necessary to give them a fair chance at coexisting peacefully with their family, friends and neighbors. A large percentage of dogs and cats are surrendered to animal shelters by such families, which give up when they are faced with unexpected yet common animal behavior and care issues.

Animal advocacy and rescue organizations should reevaluate their Sisyphean focus upon trying to save from euthanasia every unwanted and abandoned pet forced upon animal shelters. More emphasis toward practical and nonjudgmental assistance for desperate yet otherwise well-meaning pet owners would likely result in many animals staying in their homes where they belong.

Donn Umber

Santa Monica

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