Facing Sad Holidays After Dog's Loss

* It is a time of year to be thankful. Therefore, I find it only fitting for my letter to be one of thanks--to all the kind and loving people who so graciously expressed their sorrow in the loss of our Golden Retriever, Max.

However, sorrow and gratitude are not the only strong emotions in this animal lover's heart. There are emotions of anger and mistrust at a group of individuals who portray themselves as "protectors," our police and our Sheriff's Department. We must ask ourselves not only as animal lovers and owners, but as parents, couldn't this senseless murder of a defenseless animal have been avoided? Were there no other methods of defense available?

Is our Sheriff's Department so quick to pull a trigger that they abandon all good sense and based solely on emotion kill and then lie about the circumstances? Perhaps our pain would have been easier if the Sheriff's Department had admitted to a major error and the accidental killing of our beloved Max. We are, after all, human.

So Mr. Mayor, Mr. Chief of Police and Mr. Sheriff, admit your system needs some changing; admit there is too much margin for error. Educate your officers, make certain they not only know alternate methods, but use them whenever possible. Please, I ask you as a parent, as an animal lover and as a grieving human being, learn from this mistake. Do not make someone else's holiday season as sad and empty as you made ours.

THE SMALLEN FAMILY

San Juan Capistrano

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