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.
Wynndel, British Columbia
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.
New Castle, Pennsylvania
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.
Reverend Karen A. Burger
Founder, CareNCompassion Canine Rescue Putnam County, New York
Think of the children
Eison's wake-up call will come one of these days, when these killing machines he is breeding attack one of his children or someone else's. I hope the Voice is included in the criminal cases and the lawsuits that will result.
The only good thing about that article was the few sentences about how this breed is not inherently dangerous. Maybe that should have been the focus of the article instead of giving a "how to" manual for making your dogs aggressive.
Rochester, New York
Urn second thought
In his article "Bombs (sic) Bursting in Air" [August 2430], Michael Swindle takes issue with the statements about Hunter S. Thompson's ashes being "pulverized""It were FIRE!" he whined. I hate to disabuse him, but the "ashes" we get back from a crematorium are pulverized bone. At 2,000 degrees, flesh burns completely, leaving no ash. Bone doesn't burn. However, it is left very dry and brittle. The crematoriums take this bone and run it through a processor that pulverizes it. That's what they give you in the little urnspulverized bone.
I've read a number of articles that explain the situation of fans being held back by security at Owl Farm with the added remark that Thompson would not have approved. Authority and all that. Please. If Thompson were alive and a throng of fans pulled up at Owl Farm, they would be facing buckshot.
Los Angeles, California
Don't blame Bush
Re "Errors of Commission" by James Ridgeway, with Natalie Wittlin [Mondo Washington, August 2430] : You guys sure make a good case that the Clinton administration screwed up our intelligence agencies so bad in eight years that there is no way in hell Bush could have fixed them in eight months. I'm sending a copy your article to Arlen Specter and Rush Limbaugh.
Fort Worth, Texas
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