David and Sharon Schoo lost their right to be parents when they made the decision to leave their two daughters alone over Christmas and fly off for an Acapulco vacation. Nine-year-old Nicole deserves a medal for heroism for taking on the responsibility of her younger sister, Diane. I hope they are adopted together into a nurturing and loving environment and then, finally, they can have a real Christmas.
PATRICIA VAN VONDEREN, Satellite Beach, Fla.
The Schoos are fortunate I am not their judge and jury. People who abuse, neglect or molest children should be stripped of their parental rights and undergo mandatory sterilization.
TERRI ELLIOTT, Wahoo, Nebr.
My companion and I, about to embark on a Christmas cruise, arranged for friends to fly south from Baltimore to care for our 5-year-old dog in our absence. Surely the Schoos could have shown at least as much consideration for their children.
M.B. MACFARLANE, Venice, Fla.
I have long been a fan of the shadowy Animal Liberation Front, but somehow had difficulty believing that ALF members were real people. Deep down, I suspected that they were kin to Superman or Superwoman. After reading your article, however, I realize that ALFers are regular people alter all—folks with a deep concern about how others are treated and an overriding urge to do something to set things right. I only wish I had their courage.
SHEILA KANE, Washington, D.C.
What if MADD activists started burning down liquor stores or gun-control advocates began destroying firearms factories? Violence does not solve problems, it creates more. I believe in the humane treatment of animals, but I cannot deny the significance of medical research. If Valerie's child had a terminal illness and a cure could be discovered through animal research, I think she'd be singing a different tune.
DARLA NASH, Springdale, Ark.
I would like to clarify remarks attributed to me in your article about ALF. I am quoted as stating that animal research is "a justified and necessary evil." It is the biomedical community that justifies animal research as a necessary evil. I did not intend to imply that the Humane Society of the United States supports this claim. While HSUS is not against all animal research, our mission is not to justify the status quo, but to challenge it to become more humane.
MARTIN L. STEPHENS, Vice President, Laboratory Animals, HSUS
While we question some of Valerie's methods, we completely agree with what she has accomplished. We're available to help with bail if she's ever arrested.
BETSY and MEL WHEAT, Plano, Tex.
Having had dogs all my life, I can appreciate Valerie's passion, if not always her methods. There is one point medical researchers miss when they protest ALF's action: When the Bible speaks about man having dominion over animals, it also implies responsibility toward them.
GEORGE COLEMAN, New York City
ALF is labeled a terrorist group while animal experimenters are hailed as heroes for performing gruesome experiments that you or I would be arrested for. You helped to expose this cruel practice and to show ALF for what it really is—the Underground Railroad of the 20th century.
BETH FARRIS, Reston, Va.
Stripped of sensationalism, the facts are that responsible laboratory animal research is an essential part of medical research, that most laboratory animals—some 90 percent of which are rodents experience little or no pain during research experiments, and that antiresearch ALF activists are committing crimes, such as arson, that threaten the lives of human beings and animals alike.
It's a fact, too, that the relationship between the underground ALF and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is suspiciously close. It's a classic extremist strategy: The covert wing plants the bombs and burns the buildings, while the political wing presses forward on the propaganda front. As shown by PEOPLE's interview with Valerie, the strategy seems to be working.
SUSAN E. PARIS, President, Americans for Medical Progress, Inc., Arlington, Va.