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Forum, May 8: Vermont’s animal cruelty laws are inadequate


Tuesday, May 07, 2019
Vermont’s animal cruelty laws are inadequate

The public outrage over neglected and dead horses at a farm in West Topsham, Vt., and the dispersal of the remaining horses to a facility in Tunbridge from which the most emaciated were subsequently removed highlights the tremendous gap in Vermont law concerning neglect, cruelty and licensure of equine shelters and rescues (“Police investigate allegations of maltreatment of horses,” May 4).

Currently there are no enforceable guidelines, procedures or requirements for becoming a “horse rescue” or shelter in the state of Vermont. Anyone can decide that they wish to do so, and they are, de facto, a “rescue.” Often times the impetus behind this is a wish to do good; other times, sadly, it is merely a way to solicit funds from a well-meaning but uninformed public.

Operating a legitimate rescue requires specialized training for dealing with the specific nutritional and veterinary needs of neglected animals; it requires stabling, acreage and facilities to quarantine new arrivals. When well-intentioned but poorly equipped groups or individuals attempt to operate rescues without this infrastructure they are at best diverting resources from established organizations that are in a position to do the most good, and at worst continuing the spiral of neglect.

This is a wake-up call for legislators and the public to take a long, hard look at the lack of oversight concerning both neglected animals and the establishment of organizations that are supposed to help them. Do your due diligence before donating to any group. Visit the facilities and ask questions. Don’t just look at websites. Report abuse and neglect, even if current laws are inadequate. Most important, contact your legislators and demand action so that the law can step in to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

LORI J. BERGER

Tunbridge

The writer is an instructor of equine studies at Vermont Technical College. The views expressed here are her own.

Want to vote in New Hampshire? Become a resident

Keene State College’s President Melinda Treadwell is urging students to speak out against last year’s House Bill 1264, which is set to take effect this July.

The bill clarified the meaning of the words “resident” and “residence,” in effect clarifying that those who seek to vote in New Hampshire must follow the same laws every other new resident must follow. That includes replacing their out-of-state license with one issued by New Hampshire and transferring their car registration within 60 days, which of course costs money.

Opponents are framing the requirement as an unconstitutional “poll tax” that interferes with out-of-state students’ right to vote. These are scare tactics, plain and simple.

Voting is tied to residency, which comes with attendant requirements and responsibilities, and it should follow that residents cannot be residents only for the purposes that suit them. One cannot pick and choose.

The problem is, out-of-state college students take advantage of same-day voter registration and claim to be residents for one purpose — voting — but fail to meet any of the accompanying obligations that come with residency.

It appears college students want a special carve-out for themselves that would enable them to be residents for the purposes of voting, but nothing more.

Let’s be clear, HB 1264 does not interfere with their right to vote, because absentee ballots — from their home states — are available for circumstances just like theirs. But if they absolutely must vote in New Hampshire, it’s easy: Become a resident — with all that entails.

BLAKE FORD

Claremont

Worker shortage is dragging down Vermont’s economy

A friend of ours who wants to weatherize his home was told by a local insulating contractor that he wouldn’t be able to do the job because he doesn’t have enough workers.

For many years he employed seasonal workers from Mexico, who were here on temporary work visas. At one point he had more than 30 employees. Now the visas are not getting approved and he is down to seven employees and estimates that he has had to turn down in excess of $1 million worth of work as a result.

By law he is required to advertise for U.S. workers, but in three years has come up with only one who could do the job. He knows of other contractors who are in the same boat.

Farmworkers are also in very short supply. Back in the day, immigrants arriving on Ellis Island would be given a train ticket to Vermont and the name of a farmer who had work and lodgings.

Our elder care industry could also do with an influx of willing workers.

How can a state like Vermont make any progress in its weatherization, affordable housing and agricultural needs if this restrictive immigration policy continues?

JIM ROONEY
AND CAROL LANGSTAFF

Sharon

Suicide prevention is goal of Saturday walk at Dartmouth

Please join me and fellow community members on Saturday at 9 a.m. at Dartmouth College for “Hope Walks Here,” a 5K suicide-prevention fundraising walk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S. — one death every 12 minutes. It is the second-leading cause of death worldwide for 15-24 year olds, and 800,000 people die worldwide by suicide every year — one death every 40 seconds. Our own communities have lost young people and adults who have died by suicide, leaving behind distraught, grieving and overwhelmed family, friends and neighbors.

We are still roughly $4,000 dollars short of our $10,000 dollar goal. Won’t you please join us either on your own or better yet with a loved one? Why not a whole team? Register at afsp.org/Dartmouth.

SYLVIA ALBERTA

Enfield