Saturday, June 13, 2009

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PETA: Throwing fish is like throwing dead kittens

PETA: Throwing fish is like throwing dead kittens

By KOMO Staff & News Services

SEATTLE - A PETA protest over a scheduled fish-tossing exhibition at an upcoming veterinarians' convention in Seattle may have paid dividends.

The chief executive of the American Veterinary Medical Association says they are reconsidering the demonstration.

PETA heard that the American Veterinary Medical Association asked some Pike Place Market fish throwers to be the opening act for their July 10 convention at the convention center.

Ron DeHaven, chief executive of the AVMA says his organization thought having one of Seattle's top tourist attractions -- the fish-throwers at the Pike Place Fish Market -- come to the event would be a great "team-building experience."

But PETA sent a letter to the association saying people who care about animals are appalled fish would be treated as toys.

"We think it sends a terrible message to the public when veterinarians call it fun to toss around the corpses of animals," said Lindsay Rajt, a PETA spokeswoman in Norfolk, Va. "I think that PETA and the public would agree with us that veterinarians should be promoting compassion and not callousness toward animals."

When asked why would there be such a fuss since the fish are already dead, Rajt replied:

"Fish feel pain and fear just like dogs and cats do and I don't think the AVMA would dare take part in the dead kitten toss. Really, morally, there is no difference between throwing around dead kittens and throwing around dead fish."

PETA has offered to replace all the dead animals with rubber fish instead.

"It would be fun without supporting the cruel fishing industry," Rajt said.

Late Tuesday evening, DeHaven said in the wake of PETA's criticism, the association would explore other options, including the idea of using rubber fish.

An assistant manager at the Pike Place Fish Market says workers there respect fish because it's their livelihood and they take pride in having the best seafood.

"We respect everything you see here," Justin Hall said. "Without respect for these fish, we wouldn't exist. These people wouldn't be here having a good time."

In fact, many tourists make the market a special stop.

"We came here for the fish throwing," said Ginny and Donald Gaskamp. "We came all the way from Texas. It's cool, I'm glad we came."

Actually the same two fish are thrown over and over again. Tossing can damage the quality. Even so, Karen and Bruce Steele find the fish flap unfathomable.

"Why ever not, they are not alive any more?" they said. "And it is a food product, it is not like we are killing indiscriminately. This is Seattle. This is part of what happens here."

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