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Animals' defenders

March 13, 2009

Re "L.A.'s animal terrorists," Opinion, March 11

Tim Rutten made a couple of misguided claims about animal rights activists, which, as he pointed out, are a group quite distinct from the animal liberationists who have started blowing things up.

First, most of us are not against using animals in medical research, but we feel strongly that this must be done humanely.

Second, we do not equate human beings with animals. Instead, we point out that animals suffer just as human beings do -- but that because people like Rutten do not feel there's moral equivalence between these two groups, somehow those people believe they can do whatever they want to an animal with impunity.

Quite simply, animal rights folks know it is wrong to inflict cruelty and suffering on any animal.

Jennifer Horsman

Laguna Beach

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If Rutten truly believes that "at the end of the day, there is no moral equivalence between the lives of humans and those of animals," he should consider this:

Animals don't fly airplanes into buildings. Animals don't knowingly alter the climate to affect all other species on Earth. They don't kill each other over their religious beliefs. There are no animal serial killers. Animals don't torture. And they certainly don't cheat their fellow animals through Ponzi schemes.

If you're basing the argument on strictly moral grounds, animals' lives may actually be equal if not superior to those of humans.

Gina Ortiz

Claremont

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Rutten's column exposes the conduct of a relative handful of individuals whose behavior is reviled by mainstream advocates of animal protection. Millions of Americans care about the welfare of animals, and also believe that harassment, violence and other illegal tactics are wholly unacceptable and inconsistent with promoting compassion and respect.

The Humane Society of the United States has repeatedly and publicly criticized individuals who break the law in the name of supposedly protecting animals. Illegal actions and use of violence and harassment by a few individuals in the name of protecting animals result in irreparable harm to the cause of animal protection. True animal advocates promote respect and compassion for people as well as animals.

Michael Markarian

Washington

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The writer is executive vice president of the Humane Society of the United States.

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