Letters for the Week of April 20 

Readers sound off on Oakland trees, landlords, and art galleries.

Page 2 of 3

In our 4/13 music story, "Henry Rollins Ages Against the Machine," we said Henry Rollins blogs for the LA Weekly. He actually has his own column.


Beyond Neutering

To Contra Costa County Supervisors, A dangerous-dog-neutering law is a must. Living things need protection, even such dogs. As people who like dogs, we know neutered dogs protect better and are less prone to wrong attacks. So are well-kept dogs. In Atchison Village and beyond, owners walk fine dogs of many breeds. But all over Contra Costa County, dog blight comes of two causes: over-breeding, which increases dogs' numbers and disease, and bad behavior in dogs and owners. Neutered dogs might attack "less," but the cause is beyond just neutering and overall numbers of dogs. And attacks burden us all, in decreased commerce and home prices, and higher hospital and court costs, such as damage awards governments might have to pay, because Animal Control won't remove dogs till they attack.If that seems minor compared to problems like Japan's, imagine a California quake letting loose dogs of lethal force. Over-bred to be over-protective, dogs become dangerous when ignorant people "train" them so. Dogs have wolf DNA that hard-wires them to love, protect, and feed animals and people, even bad ones, in their "packs." Abused canines "protect" by attacking, turning on whatever seems a threat or prey. So Contra Costa County, put teeth in the neutering law so that it ends dog abuse, too. It's harder to get authorities to look into than child abuse, but a faster threat. Ill-kept dogs are unpredictable, dangerous, and depressing. Three backyards of ten around my assigned parking, trash pick-up, and common area have pit bulls, and the owners have extended family. Two dog-owners with such allies in this section harass me. A nice-looking young pair seen beating their dogs have a year-old son, threaten passersby, and let dogs out at night where neighbors must exit thirty yards from the dimly lit lot. A small, seventy-ish gay Atchison Village neighbor, too afraid to tell Richmond police or Atchison Village, moved after being threatened. The Richmond Police Department and Animal Control take "anonymous" calls, but assuming I'd called, the lady took revenge — her word — wrecking plants in our common area, and someone in her home threw rocks at mine. It's illegal, but Richmond police and Animal Control call it "too little evidence, so tell Atchison Village board." Three years of Atchison Village boards ignored all requests for a hearing; Atchison Village Office said to call the Richmond Police Department or Animal Control! My guests, elderly partner, pets, and I have no protection from a non-member, but an ex- Atchison Village president befriended her. A board member answered; an off-the-record voicemail, minus her name: Go to the supervisors' meeting on dogs; it's your personal issue. It's really an issue to Atchison Village, our city, and county, if vulnerable, disabled, poor people can't move from a paid-for home where we're in danger of preventable dog-attacks "waiting to happen" — or even of higher dues or taxes after Atchison Village's next dog-attack, or in Contra Costa County. A newsletter reported one fatal Atchison Village pit-bull attack of "only" to pets — so far. One member reports dogs follow her. Dogs are let loose to "train" or as strays. People who misuse animals often go farther, if not stopped. Our neighbors' dogs yelp in pain, and the owner "carelessly" left loose a wire gate so the dogs nearly attacked a guest and me, who were barely able to push the gate while dogs bit at us. The lady at last wordlessly relocked it. Our restraining order was denied. Atchison Village staff, visitors, passersby, and 450 members are in danger they don't know of, as are people at nearby public bus stops. I feel at risk telling you! Yet 25 percent of Americans and Contra Costa County live in other HOAs that ignore the Constitution and barely honor members' rights due by contract. Too few residents anywhere can prevent dog threat or attack, so Contra Costa County, word the neutering law to let Animal Control and police manage threats, constrain owners, and keep dogs treated right, as well as neuter them. Abused attack dogs are like guns left "loaded" where they can "go off." Keeping either might be a "right," but a conditional one. As living things, dogs need conditions that socialize them well. They can get loose. So even if it's controversial, boldly create, pass, and use the law as attack-and-threat-preventive. It can improve dogs and help pay for itself if it: 1) funds help for owners to replace dogs, if they want, no questions asked, with $25 home-door alarms, similar to how mothers may give up babies they can't keep; 2) makes owners take low-cost classes and pass tests, be licensed, and keep dog-attack insurance; 3) funds low-cost clinics, neutering events, apprentice veterinarians, and neutering vans; 4) raises Animal Control dog-care standards; gives agents power to remove any dog to prevent abuse, attack, threat, and/or neglect; lets parties requesting observation pay for it; 5) asks researchers to reduce demand for test-subject dogs, not repeat tests (nor on people of coerced consent), and instead, test products of public interest, such as herbs that improve life for dogs and all; 6) defines by law each home of two or more big dogs as breeders who must be so licensed by law; 7) limits breeders' numbers of pups born, sold, and given away; and makes them neuter 90 percent; 8) funds agents to find, fine, and confine [jail] illegal breeders like drug-makers and dealers — sometimes, the same people.Sadly often, people "reassure" me by saying: The dogs will turn on that pair or their baby. Prevent that! Anyway, abused animals too often hurt people who don't hurt them. Law must protect society; make this one make owners prove they can handle the privilege of keeping such dogs, not use dogs of lethal force as cheap security, to threaten people, or to create public danger. Otherwise, Contra Costa County has great risk from increasing numbers and bad conditions of such dogs, which can and do get loose. The law must be of genuine help, as suggested, to make all dogs, regardless of genitals, of no public threat, but to protect us all from "security" dogs that ruin security, and people too dangerous to keep such dogs because they make them too dangerous for everyone — even them. Thank you!


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