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COL EDITORIAL BRIEFS Take care of your pets, or don't have pets at all

The problem of abandoned pets is not a new one. But this year, it appears to be getting more serious.

In a news story last week, Safe Haven Pet Rescue co-founder Dona Fisher said she's never encountered so many stray cats and kittens in need of care. In fact, the problem has become so severe that the agency, which prides itself on its ability to find homes for abandoned pets, has had to turn animals away.

As we see it, this is a responsibility issue. Everyone who wants a pet should have one. But with pet ownership comes the responsibility of adequately caring for the animal. That care includes having it spayed or neutered.

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; Coleman keeps his word

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Sen. Norm Coleman says pressure from environmental groups had nothing to do with his vote last week against a budget bill that included drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, and we'll take his word for it. His word, after all, appears to be good.

Coleman, as nearly every Minnesotan will recall, famously promised during his election campaign in 2002 that he would never vote to allow drilling in the pristine Alaska wilderness. But since getting elected to the Senate, Coleman has struggled to balance his promise with the opposite demands of the White House and Republican leadership. He has searched for wiggle-room and engaged in out-loud thinking about the cases in which he would feel it safe to abandon his promise.

But when push came to shove last week, Coleman stuck with his promise, and was one of only five Republicans to vote against the budget bill that included drilling in the ANWR. True, the votes were there to spare, and Coleman's "no" vote presented little danger to the bill's passage as far as supporters were concerned. He did, however, keep his word, and for that Coleman should be commended.

Same faith, different approaches

Former President Carter has written a book criticizing how President Bush is doing his job. That's not news; everybody is doing that.

What is important, however, is Carter reminding readers that, like Bush, he is a born-again Christian. Despite their shared faith, no two men have ever come at important issues like war, human rights and the role of religion in government from such opposite directions.

It is a timely reminder that people of faith can, and do, heartily disagree on issues. Those who claim to have God on their side are often opposed by well-meaning people who make the very same claim.

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; Merits of meritocracy

So Prince Charles and his bride, Camilla, have come to Washington. Their stature comes from blood, not value.

When Camilla and Charles, the Prince of Wales, stood for photos next to President and Mrs. Bush, it was an image that highlighted what it is that makes America great. Meritocracy.

While Bush, the son of President George Herbert Walker Bush, might not be the greatest example of solo success, he is a man who had to win his position. It was not a divine endowment.

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