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Some disabilities are not obvious to others

I wish to address the ignorance exhibited by a recent letter writer regarding disabilities. The injuries and illnesses that can affect mobility are too numerous to list, and they are not limited to the elderly. I have been disabled with spinal injuries since age 39. I struggle with pain every day. I am upright for a few hours at a time and then I must lie down until the pain subsides enough to get back up. My pain, productivity and abilities vary with type and duration of pain management.

When I use a transport chair, I need someone to push. I would buy a motorized chair if it was not painful to sit long. I try to minimize my cane usage because neck pain is increased with arm movement. My rolling walker with seat is great if I have someone with me to get it out of the car and the ground is navigable.

If I'm not using an assistive device, my appearance does not overtly scream "disabled," but I can assure you I walk with great effort, and the discomfort increases with distance. Those extra paces across a parking lot can easily shorten or destroy my finite window of capability.

I have learned to carefully plan and arrange the duration and logistics of independent outings. On many occasions, access to a convenient handicapped parking spot is what enables me to accomplish these tasks. I am certain that I am not the only one in this predicament.

Please do not, as the writer suggests, pass judgment and "call these drivers out" when you see them. Verbally assaulting a driver or passenger with handicapped plates is intrusive and abusive. The best that could ever come of such an encounter is that you make a fool of yourself. This man needs to be thankful for his own abilities, because those may change at any time.

Lisa Deck Drdul

Amherst

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Why is there no uproar over state-run gambling?

Western New Yorkers may or may not be aware of the recently hatched and well-organized push by downstate racetrack owners and our downstate governor to violate the terms of the 2002 compact reached between the Seneca Nation of Indians and then Gov. George Pataki. The agreement called for the Senecas to have "total exclusivity with respect to the installation and operation of gaming devices such as slot machines."

The state's development of "racinos," including one in Hamburg and one in Batavia, is an obvious attempt at an end-run around the issue to void the compact. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a group called the New York State Gaming Association seem prepared to take this to the next level and violate the state constitution by allowing New York to be in the Class III gaming business. They have already started their media blitz, because I heard one of their ads on AM radio on my commute home from work.

I wonder where the once overtly boisterous and obstructionist groups in the area -- which have appeared in the past to decry Native American gambling in New York -- are in regard to the state's dalliance with Vegas-style gaming? Where are the Wendt Foundation, Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie County and the other culturally elite arts and crafts groups that threw such a hissy fit when native gambling first appeared in the region? Could it be that it was never gaming that bothered them, but who was controlling it?

Timothy M. Saracki

Seneca Nation of Indians

Buffalo

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Spay, neuter animals to control population

In recent weeks, we have heard tales of overcrowding of animals in different SPCA locations in Western New York. Nowhere have I heard the words "spay" and "neuter." These two words make all the difference in the number of animals that are housed in area shelters and are later euthanized. Spaying and neutering is the only way to control the overpopulation of animals in this country.

Sure, shelters and rescue groups spay/neuter the animals before they are adopted. But this is only a fraction of the animals in need of altering. Look at all of the cats that are brought in carriers and traps to be destroyed at area shelters; all this could be avoided if people would just take responsibility for altering their pets.

Feral, free-roaming community cats should go through TNVR (trap, neuter, vaccinate and return) programs. This would prevent the litters of kittens born under the decks of homes, in abandoned houses and in wood piles. Later these feral, free-roaming community cats and kittens are taken to be destroyed because there are not enough homes for them all. Studies of TNVR programs in Manhattan, New York, Cape May and Atlantic City have shown a 50 percent reduction in stray cat shelter intake in the first three to five years of the project.

Let's focus on affordable programs to spay/neuter all animals before their numbers grow and the overpopulation of shelters force the euthanasia of the animals who are only guilty of being born. Overpopulation must be curtailed at its source; sterilization is the only humane, non-lethal solution to unchecked reproduction.

Edie Offhaus

Co-founder and president, Operation

PETS Spay/Neuter Clinic of WNY

Co-founder, Feral Cat FOCUS

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Let street vendors sell fresh fruits, vegetables

Some of my friends are enthused after hearing that Burger King is experimenting in some cities with home delivery. They envision a day when all junk food providers will deliver death directly to their door. Their dream is my nightmare. Most of us already struggle with the scale. In the future, we may not even have to burn the few calories it now takes to journey to the cholesterol kingdom.

If my neighbors are interested in convenience, I have another proposal. When I grew up in the '50s and '60s in Buffalo, it was common to see vendors driving small trucks loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables on city streets. Residents could purchase healthy food at the end of their driveways. I say city leaders should approve and facilitate the return of these vendors to our neighborhoods.

William Diehl

Buffalo

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Winter advisories are a waste of time

Aren't you tired of all those streaming winter advisorys? As though we in Buffalo need to be advised in the winter that it's winter. Now if it were summer, I could understand this.

I can remember when there were two newspapers in town and every day we would go to the top of the front page for the "weather" -- there was a sentence or two and that was sufficient. And they were right most of the time.

There must be something more our weathermen and women can do today to earn their pay than continually alert us of what we already know.

Jack Telaak

Orchard Park