Does Star Tribune truly understand backlash?

Thank you for responding to those of us who voiced our concern over Jim Souhan’s column in the Sept. 15 Star Tribune (“In category of health, Kill falls too short to continue”). I do accept Star Tribune editor Nancy Barnes’ apology (e-mailed in reply to reader concerns and subsequently published by other media), which clearly articulates the concerns many have raised.

I did access Souhan’s response, which was nowhere near an apology. Despite saying he did not want to appear insensitive or to offend others, he clearly restates that the only reason Jerry Kill should not be the University of Minnesota head football coach is due to “frequently suffering public seizures” — the same position he originally stated. There is no mention regarding the ability to adequately perform the responsibilities of the coaching position, and in Kill’s case, he is performing at a level which we have not seen at the U for the last decade.

In the mid-1970s, I worked and lived in a rural Mississippi town. At that point in our history, the black people in this community were still “judged” by many to be unable to succeed in roles of responsibility and leadership simply because of their skin color (that is, their appearance). We need to, at all costs, not allow this type of thinking to infect our society and cultures again.

This is about more than football. The sooner Souhan and his supervisors at the Star Tribune can grasp this, the sooner we can all move on.

HOWARD HOODY, Bemidji, Minn.

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As someone who agrees with what Souhan wrote on Sunday, I felt I should speak up. I understand the sensitivity to the situation; however, many people have not been in Kill’s shoes. I have. I have epilepsy. It is not as severe as Kill’s, but I still live every day knowing it’s a part of my life.

Though I can respect Kill’s dedication, the only word I can use to describe him right now is selfish. When most people think about epilepsy, they are concerned about the person who is having the seizures. When I have had seizures, my health is the last thing I worry about. I feel so bad that people I love have to be scared by what they see and experience. I feel like Kill is not thinking about his family, his staff, his fans and the whole university. Stepping down wouldn’t be giving up — it would be him respecting everyone around him.


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Experience shows proposal’s weakness

Licensing feral cat colonies in Minneapolis would be a huge mistake. I grew up in Minneapolis but now live in Portland, Ore., where our fenced-in yard is adjacent to a well-established feral cat colony.

There have been more than 50 cats roaming our yard. The cats urinate and defecate on our property, frequently spraying our home, regardless of any measures we have taken.

We have had two flea infestations in our home, infecting our children, stemming from the colony. We don’t let our kids play in our back yard because of the ubiquitous, undomesticated cats, feces and fleas. We have done “trap, neuter and release,” but cats always “slip through the cracks,” and the cycle starts anew.

Laws that encourage people to “adopt” a colony only perpetuate the problem. Nonprofits are not up to the monumental task of policing the colonies and the caretakers. We don’t need “education” from the caretakers; we need the cats to be gone, and Minneapolis should move firmly in the same direction.

JUDE KASSAR, Portland, Ore.

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The purpose of a trap, neuter and release program for feral cats is to reduce their numbers. It is a better solution than poison, which affects other animals. It is a better solution than hunting, which the cats learn to avoid. The returned cats protect their territory from other cats. Fewer fertile cats means fewer kittens brought to the local shelters.

Cat lovers see it as kinder than the alternatives. Fans of birds and bunnies should see it as an effective means to reduce the number of predators. Fans of reduced government spending should know that it is an effective strategy that has been used successfully elsewhere.

DONALD BAILEY, Minneapolis

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The Sept. 12 headline “Feral cats win a round at Minneapolis City Hall” was misleading. No one wins when cats are turned out to fend for themselves — not wildlife, not neighbors who consider the cats a nuisance, and not the cats themselves.

It’s cruel to even suggest abandoning cats on the streets of Minneapolis, where snow falls seven months of the year on average. In addition to freezing temperatures, feral cats face being hit by cars, infected with deadly contagious diseases, and attacked by other animals or cruel people, among other dangers. One trap/neuter/return proponent has publicly admitted that the average life span of a feral cat in Minnesota is just five years.

The proposed ordinance actually encourages people to abandon cats and opens the door for hoarders to amass cats and call them a “colony.” It also ignores the suffering of baby rabbits, squirrels, songbirds and other native wildlife whose small bodies are ripped apart by cats who hunt instinctively, even when they are well-fed.

The only way to effectively address the increasing numbers of homeless cats is by requiring that all cats be spayed and neutered, by cracking down on those who abandon cats, and by taking stray and feral cats to shelters, where they will at least be spared meeting a horrible fate on the street.


The writer is an animal care and control specialist for PETA.