By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Letter of the Week
Since when does The Village Voice swallow the PR of Marc Ecko as First Amendment hero and savior of street art ["Graffiti vs. the City (Again)" by Corina Zappia, Fashion Forward, August 23, villagevoice.com]?
David Shaftel's article "Man's Best Defense," [August 2430] provided New York City residents with a valuable lesson. Many residents of the city share their homes with animal companions. The overwhelming majority of these pet guardians are responsible in caring for their dogs, cats, and other companions and see their bond with them as a refuge from the sometimes chaotic atmosphere of the city. It is disappointing to see that the many positive benefits of the human-animal bond can be distorted in a relationship that is harmful to the dogsbeing bred and raised to be aggressiveand to the community at large.
Tyler Eison has shown a callous disregard for his fellow residents in Queens and at the same time is making it more difficult to ensure that New York City is pet friendlyaccepting of dogs and other companion animals. We can only hope that he and his dogs do not harm a person or another animal. In the meantime, we call on the city's community leaders to support efforts to spay and neuter pets in their neighborhoods, and ensure that every effort is made to enforce the city's regulations to license and leash dogs.
A dog's life
Eison is guilty of the worst type of animal cruelty. Forcing pups to become aggressive toward each other is not only unnecessary but also inhumane. These dogs deserve wonderful livesnot the ones filled with hate, suspicion, and loneliness that he has condemned them to.
This article glamorized the horrible treatment of innocent animals, and I find your judgment in printing it deplorable.
Trait you right
It is dog owners like Eison who give us responsible pit bull owners a bad name. True American pit bull terriers are not human-aggressive, and only some are naturally dog-aggressive, a trait that they used to be bred for but that is now losing favor. They are a loving, loyal, and noble breed.
Handled with care
I was reading this on the train and felt absolutely ill. The mentality of people who cultivate violence and communicate in aggressive and counterproductive means is issue enough in our nation, but to use innocent animals as an extension of human hostility is purely disgusting. That this article was the cover story of the Voice, combined with the David Shaftel's subtly woven observations, gives me hope that not all reporting propagates an admiration for things macabre. This article clearly points out a flaw in animal treatment but maintains it well, with a delicate hand, allowing the rest of the decision to be formed by the reader. When people come to things "on their own" it is even more powerful than a journalist beating the reader over the head with his opinions. I hope that some overly pumped-up meathead with a pit bull on a chain with a spiked collar will think twice about his animal and, just once, treat him like a pet instead of an appendage.
Fleischmanns, New York
Don't be cruel
Shaftel needs to do his homeworktossing in a few statistics from the AC&C and ASPCA doesn't even begin to touch on the negative impact of backyard breeding and mishandling of dogs. If Shaftel cares about the other side of the storywhat happens to the dogs that don't become killers, or the bitches that get used as breeding machines, or the dogs that are used to bait aggressive dogshe should check in with the multitude of shelters that deal with rescues in our area. A simple search of the Internet for "pit bull rescue, NYC" should fit the bill. Glorifying animal cruelty by presenting it as acceptable, even glamorous, is about as low as you can go, and I'm happy to be done with your rag.
This type of journalism leads to breed-specific legislation and the targeting of pit bulls across the country. Shaftel not only glamorizes Eison's "hobby" but says how much money Eison makes off his rejects. Soon there will be "many more Eisons" trying to breed and train aggressive pit bulls because it's easy money. Eison is an irresponsible breeder and trainer who has just been given his 15 minutes of fame by an irresponsible reporter, and this fame is going to cost a lot of dogs their lives as more irresponsible people get in the act.
Eison contradicts himself by stating that his pits are his family, but on the other hand, he proudly says that "If they're coming at you, you have to shoot them to kill them." Who says those types of things about their family?
Feed me, I am fear
While informative investigative reporting, this disturbing article also has the drawback of giving "airtime" to someone whose views are very dangerous, in my opinion, and not entirely unique. The dogs trained as described and the photo of an aggressive pit on the cover of the paper both feed the fears of those for whom all pit bull terriers have a bad rap and the fantasies of those who glorify aggression and could see Eison as a mentor of sorts. Both are unfortunate outcomes of such coverage. At the same time, there are hints that Shaftel does not share Eison's perspective while seeking to understand where it comes from, so if good comes from this, it will be because many people will react to what is shared and challenge such breeding and training practices.