Friday, February 18, 2005

WAYNE LAUGESEN SHOOTS PRAIRIE DOGS

Boulder, Colorado is a unique city with liberal leanings toward animal rights, vegetarianism, and the environment, where tree-hugging hippies are embraced as enthusiaticically as the trees themselves. Boulder loves the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism and Eastern religions. Now enter Wayne Laugesen, who writes for a local paper entitled "Boulder Weekly." Wayne is a self-styled hunter and self-proclaimed rancher, a conservative writer who relishes every opportunity to set straight these animal rights people and ridicule the city of Boulder.

In Wayne's world, self-imposed violence against many animals is justified, and he teaches his children how and why he shoots prairie dogs. (Cats in Microwaves, Jan. 1-7, 2005). Wayne states, "I like prairie dogs and do not shoot most of them." Imagine what torture he'd commit against animals that he didn't like. How much is not shooting most prairie dogs? Is shooting a hundred enough? Is a thousand enough? How about five thousand? Maybe we should marvel at Wayne's self restraint for not killing every prairie dog he sees.

Many people, including me, would sell the family ranch instead of killing innocent animals. Or, better yet, we'd choose not to live on a ranch in the first place. Perhaps we'd build a fence, but we would NOT shoot these animals! If Wayne stated that he enjoys killing prairie dogs because he gets sadistic pleasure from it, or that he considers them vermin, at least he'd be honest with himself, his children, and his readers.

We've all heard the tired stories about coyotes killing livestock and prairie dogs invading ranches and how they must be controlled. Every animal killer has used similar, worn-out rationales, resulting in untold misery for countless animals. Ranchers and hunters kill animals for fun, and they have disdain for animals they consider "vermin" which include prairie dogs, and they also hate "varmints" which include coyotes. I have also read that hunters and ranchers can and will shoot stray dogs and cats, which contradicts Wayne's fanciful notion of hunters respecting animals.

Wayne states that he "humanely" kills prairie dogs by shooting them in half with well-placed bullets. Only someone with a hunter's mentality could imagine that cutting animals in half with bullets is humane. Wayne coddles his conscience - or lack of it - by indulging in this fanciful notion of humane bullet-killing. It is truly amazing how casually some people can inflict misery on other beings.

Wayne tells his own children that humans have "a right to kill animals they intend to eat. " Really? This seems to be another case of God said we can take what we want - so let's kill it and grill it! Have fun, God is on your side! But how does Wayne KNOW that humans have a right to kill and eat animals? Is Wayne on a higher plane of consciousness where God is blissfully smiling down on all this remorseless animal killing? Is Wayne in communion with God, and therefore knows how pleased the Creator is to have his creatures butchered and eaten?

The early cowboys imagined the world of living beings as a heirarchy, with God sitting at the top and man right below the Creator. This self-serving interpretation of the scriptures gave ranchers a presumed God-given right to use animals as they pleased: rodeo and ranching certainly reflect this belief. But where is it written that Christians must or should eat meat? Where is it written that Jesus was a hunter or champion bull rider? Where is it written that killing and butchering animals is the road to heaven? A careful study of the lives of Christian saints reveals that none of them indulged in animal killing or animal abuse and many, many saints were fond of animals.

Indeed, untold millions of sentient beings have suffered immensely over the centuries because of ungodly people inflicting pain, misery, injustice and death in the name of their Almighty. Historically, people have rationalized their ungodly behavior. They will use any rationale - religion or philosophy -as an excuse to conquer, exploit, subjugate, discriminate, or inflict pain.

Wayne Laugesen, the self-proclaimed rancher who writes for a Boulder, Colorado newspaper titled "Boulder Weekly," actually wrote in favor of shooting domestic dogs in the head ("Shooting your dog," April 14, 2005). Wayne apparently believes that a bullet to the brain is better than lethal injection because when his friend brought his dog to the animal shelter, the technician could not find a vein and poked the dog several times causing the poor creature to snap angrily.

Wayne stated in his column that companion dogs are shot in the head every day in rural America.To ranchers, hunters and other like-minded people, animal "problems" should be taken care of using lethal means. And, of course, some people favor violent euthanasia over more humane, civilized methods.

I strongly disagree with Wayne, and Boulder Weekly published my letter (Shooting dogs is wrong, April 28, 2005 ) which reads as follows.

Wayne has an affinity for shooting animals. A few months ago, he wrote in favor of blasting prairie dogs, and now he advocates legally shooting domestic dogs. Shooting dogs is violent and morally repugnant, and it highlights the wretched treatment that many animals endure in our society.

People often kill animals for incredibly trivial reasons. Legalized dog-shooting is morally problematic. Because it's cheaper and more convenient than giving animals sodium pentobarbital, some people may simply shoot their pets. Puppy mill owners, sled-dog owners, and others who abuse dogs as resources can arbitrarily decide to shoot their animals.Dogs are killed for not behaving improperly, or because they cannot be trained, or they're too expensive, etc. Shooting companion animals should be outlawed because it allows pet owners to shoot their animals for any reason whatsoever. Furthermore, a shot to the head does not guarantee a quick or painless death. Eye witnesses to Mac Eachen's dog-shooting sessions stated that they saw dogs' eyes and legs moving after being shot in the head. Does it get any more sadistic than this?

Sodium pentobarbital is the method of choice of virtually 100% of veterinarians, and is considered the most humane method of euthanasia. A professional veterinarian - as opposed to a technician - should be skilled enough to locate a vein and administer an injection properly. Some animals may need to be sedated before the injection. A properly performed injection of sodium pentobarbital is the morally right choice for companion animals - not shooting them in the head.

I believe that teaching children to respect ALL animals is the superior goal. If Wayne truly wants to set a moral example for his children, he should teach them to respect all animals - including prairie dogs - and not make lame excuses to destroy these innocent creatures. - By Scott Palczak