Four legs good, two legs bad

Posted: Apr 07, 2003 12:00 AM

The folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals aren't so much animal lovers as people haters.

PETA top dog Ingrid Newkirk made news recently when she sent a letter to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat complaining about a Jan. 26 bombing in which terrorists blew up a donkey in an attempt to bomb people in Jerusalem. (Newkirk was complaining about the donkey being blown to bits -- not the intended murder of civilians packed in a nearby bus.)

Now PETA is conducting an email campaign in which true believers are supposed to forward a boilerplate email to Washington to protest the use of "chickens, dogs, dolphins, pigeons and sea lions" in Persian Gulf War II.

"Wars are human endeavors. While a person, a political party or a nation may decide that war is necessary, the animals never do. Like civilians, they often become the victims of war, but now the U.S. military is deliberately putting animals in harm's way," says the PETA missive.

It tells you something when warriors are working to keep military and civilian casualties low, while the so-called humane types are ready to hinder the welfare of people -- in order to spare the poultry.

It's true, on the battlefield, chickens and pigeons have been placed in cages on Humvees so that, like the canary in the mine shaft, their deaths could signal the presence of dangerous gases and alert allied troops to don gas masks.

Dogs are serving as bodyguards and sniff out bombs and weaponry. Just this week Buster, a canine soldier in the British Army, found AK-47s, grenades, ammunition and bomb-making equipment, Sky News reported.

Dolphins are helping troops sweep for mines -- not by nosing up to mines and setting them off, but by identifying mines and sending a signal, from a safe distance, that alerts their military handlers.

"There is no need to put innocent animals at risk," PETA asserts.

Wrong. There is a need, a human need.

"You take a handful of dolphins and you clear a waterway and can feed hundreds of thousands of people," U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles Owens told Newsday. Buster's bomb-sniffing nose may well have saved the lives of allied troops.

The PETA email campaign pretends to champion the welfare of military personnel. PETA "states that the Pentagon is obligated to protect American troops as effectively as possible," reads an April 1 letter asking Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to end the dolphin mine-sweeping program. PETA argued that since dolphins aren't always reliable, using them "may cost lives instead of saving them."

Don't believe it. PETA opposes "the military use of animals for any reason, " as spokeswoman Stephanie Boyles told the Orlando Sentinel. Saving soldiers' lives isn't a good reason for risking a pigeon's life.

You know, it's not as if the military is sending Lassie to walk over, or Flipper to swim through, minefields. The brass are trying to spare most of these animals. Dolphins are trained to keep a safe distance. Buster the bomb-sniffing dog has his own box to protect him from chemical warfare.

In February, The Washington Post called Newkirk to ask whether she considered asking Arafat to spare the lives of civilian targets. "It's not my business to inject myself into human wars," Newkirk answered.

In this case, PETA has injected itself into a "human" war -- and it is trying to undermine the side that wants to feed civilians and keep military casualties to a minimum.

PETA has shown more feeling for the welfare of a pigeon than a 19-year-old soldier. That's not humane, it's hate.