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Veterinary group rethinks fish toss in Seattle

By Doug Esser

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Seattle’s famed fishmongers may be tossing rubber fish instead of real ones at a national veterinary association’s convention next month following complaints from an animal-rights group.

American Veterinary Medical Association chief executive Ron DeHaven said the Schaumburg, Ill.-based organization had thought inviting one of Seattle’s top tourist attractions — the fish-throwers at the Pike Place Fish Market — to the event would be a great "team-building experience."

But after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals raised concerns about the ethics of using dead fish as props at a veterinary event, DeHaven said the AVMA would explore other options, including an alternative PETA suggested: using rubber fish.

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"If there is criticism that we’re being disrespectful, we need to be sensitive to those concerns," DeHaven said Tuesday.

PETA earlier in the day urged the organization to cancel the event, saying the fish had suffered "the excruciating pain of decompression" when they were pulled from the ocean and were then suffocated, bludgeoned or cut open while still alive.

"The fish toss celebrates cruelty to marine animals," the letter said. "Surely the AVMA would not describe an event as ’fun, educational and inspiring’ if the animals being tossed around were lambs, hamsters, or cats."

The sellers at the Pike Place Fish Market draw crowds when they sell a fish and heave it across a counter, where it is caught and packaged.

An assistant manager there, Justin Hall, said workers sometimes give demonstrations to groups to share their enthusiasm for their work.

"We respect fish. We respect seafood. This gives us our livelihood," he said. "We take pride in having the best."

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