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Originally published Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 4:16 PM

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PETA's fish-toss fit is so silly, there's got to be a catch

The folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have got to be kidding. They are challenging the use of fish at a presentation by fish-throwers from Pike Place Fish Market at a veterinarians' convention next month. How silly.

FOR many years, tourists visiting Seattle have gotten a thrill out of the fun-loving fishmongers at Pike Place Fish who stir up crowds with a skilled toss of a slippery fish across the counter.

Along comes People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals with a challenge so ridiculous it sounds made up. Animal-rights activists cross the line of incredulity with a challenge of the use of fish in a presentation by the fishmongers at the American Veterinary Medical Association convention next month in Seattle.

PETA need not stick its nose into a harmless Pacific Northwest tradition. Fish have some kind of feelings when living. But fish used in the famous fish toss are not nursing a wound or evaluating their sense of self worth. They are dead.

The next best thing that can happen to a salmon is to be topped with lemon and butter, barbecued and then eaten.

The animal-rights group gets points for a publicity stunt. The organization wrote a letter to the veterinarians saying, "You should know that people who care about animals are appalled that a veterinary organization, whose purpose is to represent the interests of those whose jobs involve protecting the well-being of animals would promote an event in which animals are treated so disrespectfully and are handled as if they were toys."

Oh, please.

Justin Hall at Pike Place Fish took it calmly and in stride. He says the animal-rights group is only doing its job. Fishmongers were asked to do a presentation at the convention of 4,000 veterinarians on the value of teamwork on the job. They may opt to use rubber fish instead.

Don't bother. Do the presentation as is — with all its slimy charm. Let this hissy fit about absolutely nothing run out of steam.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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