CRUELTY: FOR some reason, our reputation as an animal-loving nation has been dented recently by statistics, reported in The Northern Echo, that are not pleasant reading.

The cruelty and neglect inflicted upon animals begs the question: does the way in which we treat animals pertain in our attitude towards children?

Research conducted jointly by the NSPCC and RSPCA in recent years would suggest that there is a link.

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The victims of abuse don't ask to be born, but they do expect to be cared for and loved, given some dignity and respect. But it is evident that some of us are incapable of expressing feelings.

The sight of a child who is loved is to be cherished and so often in family life, animals play an important part in growing up. However, recent reports highlighting the cruelty inflicted by animals with young children suffering savage attacks point to the owners of animals and their lack of responsibility and care.

The majority of us are animal lovers, but there are those who quite simply should never be allowed to have animals, let alone look after them. Legislation must be robust enough to ensure this. - Bernie Walsh, Coxhoe, Durham.

ROTTWEILERS

I FELT I had to write regarding the bad press that rottweilers are getting. I am a proud owner of this breed and if I had a bigger place would have more.

I have had mine since he was eight weeks old and brought him into a family of two young children. We have had him for nearly 11 years and he has always been part of our family. I also have a young nephew and niece and would not have any worries whatsoever where he is concerned.

He protects the house when we are out, but he is not a guard dog, simply a pet.

I work in the local vet's and have seen lots of breeds of dogs. Any dog can bite and maul, but unfortunately these dogs always come out as the worst. Border collies and Labradors can also do a lot of damage, but they never get as much bad press as rottweilers, if any.

As a lot of people would say, unfortunately it is not the dogs at fault but the owners. - Kellie Wilkinson, Stanhope, Co Durham.

IN your feature about rottweilers (Echo, Sept 28), Rosalie Meaby defends these potentially dangerous dogs and says all sorts of dogs have turned on adults or children.

Perhaps she would like to tell us what percentage of, say, Labradors are put down compared with the percentage of rottweilers for savaging people?

Why should one want to own such a potentially dangerous animal? It is like keeping an unexploded hand grenade on the mantelpiece - it might be safe, but the potential is always there for a disaster.

I would suggest that owning a rottweiler is a "Catch 22" situation. Anyone who was sensible enough to own one would not want to, whereas anyone stupid enough to want one would not have the sense to keep it in a manner that would protect the rest of society.

In almost all cases, rottweiler ownership is merely a way of stating: "I am tough, don't mess about with me." - Eric Gendle, Middlesbrough.

CAMERON'S INHERITANCE

I AM slightly amused by the apparent obsessive hatred expressed by some HAS writers with a leader out of power for 16 years painted as the personification of evil.

I am proud that the success of Thatcherism made Labour unelectable and forced the party to abandon its destructive socialist policies, and I am relieved that they have managed to sustain the economy that they inherited in 1997 by following her example.

I am, however, saddened by what Prime Minister Cameron will inherit in return.

Unemployment rising for 15 consecutive months, six million dependent on a complex benefits system used to conceal the true figures, 1.9 million manufacturing jobs lost, exports down, record bankruptcies and house repossessions, hospital ward closures and job losses within a health service deep in debt, falling standards of education as record numbers fail to reach basic literacy, ever-increasing violent crime recorded, unsustainable immigration with control hindered by an absurd Human Rights Act, a pension crisis caused by the Chancellor and an unbearable personal and council tax burden.

Still, the economy, is doing well, apparently. - Des More, Darlington.

HUNTING VOTE

FILM has been obtained of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds on National Trust land on August 29, of a deer, which was either sick or injured, being chased by a rider with a red coat (hunt staff). Only a yard from the huntsman it was forced to move on as the huntsman cracked his whip, and shouted while riding his horse at the animal.

Tom Yandle (chairman of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds) has been quoted as saying he did not see how chasing the deer and riding alongside it and cracking a whip was any more inhumane than any other form of moving a deer around.

Yes, they are still at it.

If you are a member of the National Trust you should have received a ballot paper sent out on September 14. Douglas Batchelor, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, has put forward a resolution urging the trust to abandon plans to allow exempt hunting of deer on its land.

The votes must be in by mid-October if this mindless cruelty is to stop. Don't waste your vote, please. - Name and address supplied.

EMPLOYMENT

RE your article "Region will need migrant workers" (Echo Business, Sept 28). One NorthEast's regional economic strategy (RES) predicts we need to create tens of thousands of new jobs, and right now we can't fill those jobs because of skills shortages.

This only highlights the problems in Remploy where I work. The Government wants to close 64 factories and get rid of the thousands of quality jobs we currently have, to employ us in work no one else wants to do - or does not even exist yet.

It seems that the opportunities for foreign immigrants are being given precedence by Government bodies over those of UK citizens who are the most disadvantaged.

I am severely disabled and have worked in my current job for 20 years, contributing to the state and not burdening it by claiming benefits.

So how does our Labour Government repay me? By trying to put me in a worse job with no job security, or into a job that does not exist yet, or on benefits where I and my colleagues in Remploy burden our fellow taxpayers. - Graham Watson, Peterlee, Co Durham.

CUBA

I WAS interested to read James Fitzpatrick's appraisal on that "miracle called Cuba" (HAS, Sept 29). It all looked so rosy until I asked myself the following question: If Cuba really is a superpower of humanitarianism, why are so many of its citizens risking their lives in trying to escape? - Kev McStravick, Darlington.