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October 25, 2004

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Dog Days
New York City law clearly states that the Department of Health is the agency responsible for maintaining public safety, which includes protecting people and pets from dangerous dogs [“When Pets Attack,” by Rebecca Skloot, October 11]. In 1991, the DOH established a provision creating a Dangerous Dog Advisory Board, which was responsible for implementing a means to prevent such incidents. To the best of our knowledge, the DOH has made no attempt to take the necessary steps needed to establish this advisory board over the past thirteen years. It is now time for the Department of Health to stop passing the buck on this public health crisis and hold itself accountable, as innocent lives are needlessly and tragically affected.
—Edwin J. Sayres, ASPCA President, Manhattan

Thank you so much for Rebecca Skloot’s harrowing article about dog-on- dog attacks in the city. With the current move toward no-kill shelters, our city is making an effort to treat these animals humanely. I hope the city will take the next step and prosecute people with such dogs. If the city can seize a car from a drunken driver, certainly it can remove an out-of-control dog or pack of dogs from an irresponsible owner. Meg D’Incecco, Manhattan maybe if enough people call and complain, the city will do what it should have done long ago—put those dogs down.
—Mahua Anderson, Manhattan

Rebecca Skloot’s life was brutally and forever changed by the attacks of those vicious dogs. Where I was raised, this problem would have been handled with some raw hamburger meat and fast-acting poison. It would be what those dogs deserve and rid the neighborhood of a very real danger.
—Kenneth D. King, Manhattan

It is very disturbing that any city agency, including the police, would make a policy decision to not address dog-on-dog attacks, even though it could. If these agencies won’t protect the public, including our pets, from stray dogs, then they have failed our city. Much like Harry Theodore and his pack of dogs, they have become bad neighbors and bad citizens who are part of the problem, not part of the solution. What a disgrace.
—John T. Compton, Manhattan

If the city cannot deal with a pack of dogs’ reign of terror, how can it manage any other terrorist threat? I’m stunned by the blind stupidity of New York City officials who have ignored this incredibly dangerous situation. Similar circumstances would never be tolerated anywhere else.
—C. M. Hill, Akron, Ohio

The City can look the other way while these dogs continue ferociously attacking other dogs and people, but it would be wise to take a proactive approach before someone ends up dead.
—Abigail Hass, Manhattan

As a lifelong supporter of animal rights, I believe we as humans should look out for our fellow creatures, but this nightmare is beyond control. I’ve never had such feelings of hatred for another person or animal, and it’s appalling that there is no legal course of action. If it were my neighborhood, I would throw a few steaks into the lot and wait for the arsenic to kick in.
—Sara Knittel, Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

I found it shocking that no agency in New York will take responsibility for the behavior of either Harry Theodore or his animals. These dogs are lethal weapons. If Mr. Theodore were going around with a knife stabbing dogs and slashing people, he would be arrested and tried. When the inevitable happens (and it will) and a child is killed, it will be very interesting to see what these agencies use as an excuse, and how they defend themselves in court when the lawsuits are filed.
—P. M. Drusin Gaithersburg, Md.

“When Pets Attack” reminds me why I hate New York sometimes—layers of bureaucracy, rules upon laws, with nobody to enforce any of it. I’m sure there is both a legal and justifiable basis for any judge to euthanize these dogs and ban the owner from having more. But if that’s so unlikely, I’m more than happy to get a shotgun and take care of the problem myself. All I ask is that the police keep doing what they’ve obviously been doing for many years—look the other way.
—Joe Mefford, Brooklyn

Ibsen Replay
John Simon’s review of Hedda Gabler [“Theater: They’re Still Here,” October 11] reads like something off the blog of a doddering senior citizen from the sticks, who stumbled into the city and got tickets to the wrong show. Reading it gave me a queasy, sick feeling, like I had accidentally voted for George W. Bush. The show is utterly dazzling, and clearly one of the theatrical highlights of the year. Everyone seems to recognize this except Grandpa Simon.
—Terry Kattleman, Oyster Bay, N.Y.

Punch Line
Ariel Levy’s “Joke Prez” [“Intelligencer,” October 11] was a great read, but I think your research team made a mistake. It must be a misprint because for a minute there I thought you included SNL as part of the “monopoly on funny.”
—Steve Selak, Hollywood, Calif.

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