Grijalva Volunteers' Pizza Bills Aren't News

I have lived in Tucson for 27 years. As long as I have lived here, someone I have admired and respected for his work in and for the community is Raúl Grijalva. Now, he is my congressman, and he is doing a great job in Washington, D.C., too.

So why should I care how much money his staff spent on pizza for themselves and volunteers, or where it was purchased ("The Munchies," The Skinny, Dec. 9)? Is there some scandal buried in that information? No, it's just your continuing cheap shots at Raúl. He has the respect of his colleagues in Congress, but why not yours?

Bob Bowers

Here's One Interesting Way to Read Our Story on Environmental Havoc

I take issue with Jim Nintzel's report "Beaten Paths: Illegal Immigration and Smuggling Continue to Wreak Environmental Havoc in Southern Arizona" (Dec. 9). First, the language, structure and content of his report are journalistically poor and lack integrity. He typifies a "battle" between environmentalists and "illegal immigrants" that the latter is "winning." He starts with the conservation biologist's complaint that his efforts to protect a fragile road are being "run over" by "not choosy" immigrants, it seems, who are solely intent on environmental destruction. Close to the end of the article, he slightly mentions border policies that have contributed to Southern Arizona becoming a main crossing point by quoting another environmentalist, but in the end, he ennobles the "embattled" biologist who will continue to weld steel posts and move big rocks to prevent undocumented people from "trashing" the place.

Second, he overlooks the fact that if the Border Patrol is as successful as they say they are at apprehending undocumented immigrants, then what does the Border Patrol do with all the backpacks and personal items on the immigrants when they are caught? The answer is that the Border Patrol has a policy that makes the immigrants leave their possessions where they are apprehended. So who is helping to "trash" the fragile Sonoran environment?

Third, Nintzel participates in the age-old (and should be tired and trite by now, but I guess hate is "in") practice of scapegoating. He does this by focusing on the people without access or a voice to institutional power and then criminalizing them and blaming them for things that are also the fault of the greater power holders (like politicians who crafted the current border policy). Nintzel did not talk to one border crosser, but focused his report on a frustrated white male biologist, a report by Congress that blamed immigrants for our failed immigration border policy, a Border Patrol official and only one environmentalist sympathetic to immigrants and contextual about the border environment.

He didn't even meet the minimum standard of balance, which would have required him to include in his report at least two more people who didn't blame immigrants for the "environmental carnage" he purports. This makes his story sensational, yellow and bad, bad journalism.

Sahee Kil

A Progressive Periodical Should Not Run Pet-Store Ads

I'm sure you've received quite a few comments about the inappropriate nature of the Petland ads you were running in the Weekly. For a fairly progressive periodical, I surprised you would agree to run an ad that sends the message that animals serve the same purpose as, say, a pair of roller skates. We have too many animals that end up in rescue because a family spontaneously bought them as gifts without fully realizing the responsibility attached to raising a pet. In addition, many dogs and cats come from mills, where the breeding pair will be bred relentlessly, and then often discarded after they can no longer produce litters. We recently took in a Labrador retriever that had bred every heat cycle in her six years of life, and then was found wandering the streets of Mesa. The breeder gave her away after he couldn't use her anymore, and the subsequent owner didn't want her, so she let her go. Companies such as Petland promote this type of industry by running an ad that states that pets make great gifts.

I understand Petland offers counselors, but that doesn't change the fact that many of these puppies will come from irresponsible breeders. In addition, if a customer wants a pit bull and is willing to pay, I don't see a Petland counselor refusing the money. Surely a hip, progressive newspaper such as the Tucson Weekly would not want to promote irresponsible breeding mills, the overflow of unwanted dogs and the possible unhappy existence of a dog that was a cute holiday gift, but when it got too big, was delegated to a chain and post in the yard.

Carol Mazur

Pets Make a Poor Holiday Gift

I'm saddened that Petland has been running quarter-page ads in the Tucson Weekly with the headline "Pets Make a Great Holiday Surprise!"

Actually, pets are a very poor choice for a holiday surprise. Caring for a companion animal requires a 10- to 20-year commitment from the entire family. That's why most humane organizations will not adopt out an animal as a surprise gift.

Nearly 20,000 dogs and cats are killed at Pima County shelters each year. Most are young, healthy and friendly. About 25 percent of the dogs are purebred.

People can help end animal suffering and death by adopting animals from shelters or rescue groups instead of buying from Petland. That would spare thousands of animals from death at local shelters, and it would take financial incentives away from breeding mills--preventing thousands more breeding animals from enduring lonely, miserable lives.

It's no surprise that the best gift you can give is the gift of life. Get the entire family involved in bringing a shelter or rescue animal home for the holidays.

Salette Latas
President, Foundation for Animals in Risk

If You Want a Pet, Rescue One

I am a Foundation for Animals in Risk volunteer who cares deeply about animals. I would like to take this chance to say that although I am young, I am not too young to see how wrong and ominous the ad titled "Pets Make a Great Holiday Surprise!" is.

Since I have been spending my time at adoption sites, looking at each loving animal patiently waiting as the chances for homes slip by, tails never failing to wag as each new face brings new hope, I have become more deeply aware of how vital it is for adopters to be absolutely certain that they are prepared and ready for a cat/dog. So many animals are dropped in pounds, shelters, etc., because the people who bought them weren't prepared for the commitment that is required to properly care for them. Others refuse to pay for things like spaying or neutering, which is another reason so many unwanted animals are abandoned.

This ad implied that everyone can be matched up with one animal or another, when this is not true. A big part of FAIR is making sure that adopters are completely ready and able to watch out for their new companions. Many pets are returned after Christmas, because negligent owners fail to realize that when you purchase a puppy, you must train it to go on the paper, stop nipping, no barking, sit, stay, etc. Thousands of cats and dogs are euthanized every day across America after a very short chance at a home, and love.

Skyler Bentley

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