Letters from near and far

OTNC Turf War

I’m calling about “Tacos Around Town” (May 14 cover story). Once again, Ed Bedford has gotten everything wrong. The Grill House at Big Ben’s — yes, Big Ben’s has been here for 65 years, but these guys have only had it for about 15. When they started to remodel it, everybody was laughing that there was going to be a fire because these people did not have the money to finish building it. And, guess what? There was an electrical fire!

The worst thing of all is that Bedford says it is in Old Town. I have tried to correct you people before. Old Town is from 8th and Roosevelt to 24th Street, all the way down to Tidelands Avenue. Big Ben’s and anything east of Roosevelt is not considered Old Town! OTNC is west of Roosevelt.

  • Lalo Lalona
  • National City


Bland Diego

Re: “Is There Anything to Hate about San Diego?” (April 30 cover story).

What I like best about this town is that we are only one and a half hours by air from San Francisco. Other than that — got to tell the truth now! — we are just a boring border backwater.

  • Rico G.
  • San Diego

Rachel Smith with her granddaughter in front of her historic home

Rachel Smith with her granddaughter in front of her historic home



Neighbors Overlooked

Daniel Hall’s letter (May 21) makes some excellent points about “NightmAirbnb” (City Lights, May 6), and what I believe is a very one-sided spin — a view I have already shared with the writer.

The Reader and other press outlets have afforded Ms. Smith and her attorney generous opportunities to put forward their case. The overlooked party in this is the neighbors who live next to short-term rental properties — not just this one instance, but all of them.

I expect Ms. Smith has equally charming neighbors with equally cute grandchildren that have a very different view of the activity on the property in question. By way of analogy, we believe in free speech in America, but classically that freedom doesn’t allow a person to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre. No one would deny Ms. Smith the right the use of her own home within the limits of the municipal codes, but not when her activities extend to interfere with her neighbors.

  • Name Withheld
  • Burlingame

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Garbage in, Garbage Out

The people of the southern Italian mainland and the island of Sicily have produced much more than the Camorra, the Mafia, and the ’Ndrangheta. Indeed, before Rome existed, these peoples were already ancient. Mr. Marks’ fascination with the Munzi film on the ’Ndrangheta is not unusual. No army who ventured into the Italian boot ever emerged in one piece.

Unfortunately, Americans rarely go into the inner areas of the mainland of the south, or Sicily. Neither do our fellow Americans know the dynamics of Italian-American life. Hollywood, and now the Italian film industry, will continue to supply criminal fare for those who are criminals at heart. It was known that Saddam Hussein would watch Marlon Brando’s The Godfather over and over. Garbage in, garbage out.

  • Name Withheld
  • via voicemail


Costing Dogs Their Lives

I am thoroughly disappointed in your magazine’s publication of “You Love Me Now, but Will You When I’m Four?” (April 23). Not only is it filled with inaccurate facts, its is obviously written from a point of extreme bias rather than informative news. Bill Manson’s article is the perfect example of fear mongering and inaccurate reporting.

In his article he forgot to mention that, in canine behavioral assessments, pit bull-type dogs (which actually includes several breeds, and therefore presents serious problems with breed-specific legislation), test as well, if not better, than everyone’s favorite, the golden retriever.

These assessments test dogs’ reactions to strangers, friends, dogs, cats, loud noises, and other normal everyday stimuli. Yes, it is awful that Bill’s pet was attacked by a dog that does not do well with other animals, but does that mean a whole breed of dog or really a whole subset of dogs that look similar should be removed from their homes? Or that responsible members of society should be told which dogs they can own, save, rehabilitate, and love? Does that mean that the pit bull-type dogs that have been working diligently as service animals for children, elderly and disabled should be stopped immediately?

Additionally, Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is a very expensive and ineffective idea. All over this country it has been enforced to the expense of not only dog lives, but also tax payer monies. Research has found that it does nothing to improve the safety of communities. Some cities have spent over $250,000 in tax payer dollars to enforce this ineffective policy. And, in fact this research has lead many communities to overturn their BSL laws.

It is amusing to me how Bill proposes the idea of BSL without fully explaining the cost to the taxpayer and the almost impossible task of enforcing a law that is parallel to racial profiling. Will we call every dog with a large

head and short coat a pit bull? Will we remove, impound, and put down any dog with these characteristics despite their temperament or behavioral history?

Yes, I could find people to tell me they had a horrible experience with an “aggressive breed” dog, and that was obviously Mr. Manson’s goal. But I could also find plenty of stories of people who have had horrible experiences with so-called harmless dogs. I myself have been bitten by a dachshund, and three poodle mixes, all of which caused serious trauma to me and my dogs.

New, more accurate research has shown that breed cannot be accurately and reliably connected to dog bite reports. Additionally dog bites are usually a product of humans’ poor management rather than breed related.

All dogs have the ability to bite. All dogs have the ability to react. All dogs need to be properly trained, managed and supervised. These rules are not specific to breed they are specific to responsible dog ownership.

As far as other pit bull lies Mr. Manson’s article perpetrated, pit bull-type dogs do not have locking jaws, nor do they have a bite that is higher in PSI than other dogs. Yes, pit bull-type dogs have large heads and large mouths. And, yes, a bite from them can be damaging, however their bite is directly related to their weight and size not their breed or a locking mechanism. Printing lies such as these only spreads ignorance.

One area that I do agree with Mr. Manson on is the idea of spaying and neutering. Too many dogs are abandoned, abused, and left to be put down mainly because we have an over population of all types of dogs. And because of this I wish that your publication would use its influence to persuade people to better their communities, to engage in the need of discarded animals, and to help create policy that would educate pet owners rather than fear monger, suggest policy that would break families apart, and put more dogs in harm’s way.

I cannot stress enough how disappointed I am with your publication. A simple Google search could show any editor that Bill Mason’s writing is biased, inaccurate and poorly researched. This ignorant article, and your publication, could cost several dogs their lives, starting with the pit bull-type dogs in shelters that deserve loving homes, and possibly ending with a movement towards BSL that would take loving pit bull-type dogs out of their homes and away from their responsible owners.

A responsibly researched retraction would only seem appropriate.

  • Kathryn Welch
  • La Mesa


Pit Bulls Are Dogs, Not Alligators

Shame on you, San Diego Reader. Your extremely biased breed-bashing story, not only brings to light the incredulous falsities that so many good-meaning citizens mistake for facts, but paints a portrait of your majority pit bull-owning fan base as uneducated, irresponsible owners. I’m here to tell you we are not.

Allow me to point out the title of your piece, “You Love Me Now, but Will You When I’m Four?” (April 23). Substitute any breed into this question and you may be surprised to hear the same response. You start the article on a low note and it just gets worse from there.

The beginning of your rant paints a picture of a loving cat who unfortunately meets his fate after greeting the neighbor’s dog. Are you aware that pit bulls aren’t the only breed who dislikes cats? It’s true that the prey-drive of some breeds is higher than others, but many dogs, regardless of breed, have been cat-tested and live in harmony with other species of pet, whether cat, dog, fish, reptile, or bird.

How safe can you keep poor Mr. Whiskers when you’ve decided to put him on the streets to fend for himself among cars and coyotes or, dare I say it, the neighbor’s dog?

You also say, “... you don’t unlock a pit.” Seriously, are we back to this old argument? Pit bulls, in fact, do not have locking jaws. Do your research and you’ll find that studies conducted on the structure of the skulls, mandibles, and teeth of pit bulls show that, in proportion to their size, their jaw structure is no different than that of any breed of dog. Pit bulls are dogs, not alligators.

According to the National Canine Research Council, when testing the pressure per square inch of a German shepherd, an American pit bull terrier, and a Rottweiler, the pit bull came in with the lowest PSI of all three. And according to National Geographic’s Dr. Brady Barr, the animal bite of a Chelydra serpentina almost triples that of the PSI from a pit bull bite! A Chelydra serpentina is the common snapping turtle, people.

Your article cites one of the most glaringly discredited source for dog bites out there: Dogsbite.org. Not only has this site been discredited by scholars, veterinarians, animal experts, and canine behaviorists, you’ve also unwittingly advertised this website as if it actually provides any factual information at all. Any bull lover knows this website is propaganda at its worst.

Moving on, you regale the story of Ms. Kelley whose dog Sparky was killed by a pit bull. This unfortunate series of events is too common to those of us who have been to the likes of OB Dog Beach or Fiesta Island, but begs the question: What does breed have to do with it? Several breeds have high prey-drive, not just pit bulls. Isn’t it the responsibility of the dog’s owner to learn their own dog’s triggers and recognize their limitations?

Isn’t it the responsibility of the dog owner to be in control of their dog, especially when presented with a potentially high-stress situation such as an off-leash park? The worst part is that now there’s a trigger-happy woman who feels the need to bring a gun to a dog fight. How is this a better solution?

I’d like to declare my newfound appreciation to the City of Imperial Beach Council who chose not to interfere with dog owners’ rights. Expecting dog owners to be responsible is a better first line defense.

Mr. Campbell’s statement, “There are bad trainers, bad adopters, bad people who misuse any breed,” may be the only substantial sentence in your entire article.

I’m finding it even harder now to correlate the term “dangerous” with any specific breed over the individual dog itself.

When you visit a shelter in San Diego County, a majority of those dogs are labeled as pit bulls. The strong, muscular, boxy, short-haired dogs whose origins come from every corner of the world are categorized into a singular label, and then many of them are put to sleep at the slightest hint of aggression. How about we start training our shelter staff to better assess triggers in animals before handing out death sentences on a whim?

Or maybe we should start simpler, like having the San Diego Reader print something worthy of its pet-owner fan base? Like tips on how to be a responsible dog owner, reasons for leash laws, the benefits of enrolling in pet insurance, or better yet, doing some research before slandering the name of an otherwise lovely breed of animal.

I’ve been in dog rescue for several years, most of them dedicated to helping bully mixes of all kinds. I pride myself on fighting the stigma that comes with owning such a wonderful creature, and I do so with educational empowerment, not rumors or hearsay. San Diego Pittie Parents is a local group of such individuals proving to the community that such pit bull ambassadors do exist.

Every pit bull is a dog, and every dog is an individual. How about we start treating them that way?

  • Kristin Porter
  • La Mesa


Demon Dogs

I was greatly disappointed by your decision to publish as sensationalist an article as “You Love Me Now, but Will You When I’m Four?” (April 23).

The term pit bull is slang for a great number of dog breeds, including the American pit bull terrier, staffordshire terrier, and American bulldog. Many other breeds are often included under the slang descriptor, including the Dogo Argentino, bull terrier, etcetera. All of these are distinct breeds; the variation in size ranges from 40 pounds to over 100, and the breeds’ personalities vary as much as their size.

Every generation has dog breeds that are vilified. Previous decades saw the German shepherd and Rottweiler as “demon dogs;” now is the time for the pit bull.

American shelters are overflowing with bully breeds for a variety of reasons — primarily the desirability of such breeds to irresponsible individuals. Many severely underfunded rescues are working tirelessly in your community to save these dogs, many of which were abused, neglected, tortured as bait dogs, starved, or diseased and left to die.

Articles such as the one you published, fueled nearly exclusively by anecdotes and emotion, do nothing but further an atmosphere where innocent dogs are abused and killed.

Perhaps the most salient characteristic of these dogs is their resiliency and capacity for forgiveness. Of 20 pit bull-type dogs tortured nearly to death by Michael Vick — the worst possible scenario for creating truly compromised animals — 12 were successfully rehabilitated into family pets! Local bully rescues here in San Diego can testify to how many dogs successfully overcome truly horrific backgrounds and make fantastic companion animals.

When I saw your article I had high hopes for responsible journalism. This was an opportunity to highlight the number of animals in need of adoption, the requirements of the breed(s), information on what a responsible bully breed owner should consider before adoption, and resources for those interested in solving the dog overpopulation problem. Instead I read sensationalist garbage that will do nothing but further the demonization of dogs whose only crime is to be alive, and add to the challenges that the dog rescues here in San Diego and elsewhere are struggling against.

I rescued a large American bulldog male from a local bully rescue simply because he struck me as a dog that was highly unlikely to be adopted, and I was capable of providing him with a home. He has bad teeth (half have

already been pulled), weighs 90 pounds, needed eye surgery, was not leash-trained, and looks rather like a gargoyle. He also has a heart of gold, is deeply affectionate, and has as much as a right to life as any other dog, including my Dutch shepherd mix (who was himself was abandoned in a Carl’s Junior dumpster as a puppy).

My bulldog requires a more responsible owner than some dogs. With the help of the rescue and a dog trainer I now have a fantastic dog that I adore.

A minority of people across this country, including here in San Diego, are working hard to do the right thing. That is, save the dogs from euthanasia, educate the public, curb breeding, promote spaying and neutering dogs, and rehome rescue animals. In the meantime you undermine their efforts to the detriment of dogs everywhere.

Bully-type dogs can be large, they can be stubborn, and they can be dangerous. All three can be said of most large dog breeds. If you are so swayed by anecdote, perhaps I should relate some of my own, including an aggressive golden retriever and an English bulldog that did his best to attack my shepherd on a regular basis (he succeeded once to the detriment of my bank account).

Your magazine should aspire to an at least vaguely more impressive level of journalism.

What a disappointment.

  • Dr. Paul Belitz
  • Mira Mesa

Just the Facts

It is clear that Bill Manson is a political journalist in his lack of facts and overwhelmingly ignorant assumptions. Pits do not have lock jaws. It is physically impossible. They do not have the strongest jaw pressure of all dogs. They were not bred to take down bulls. Where did he get these fairy tales?

It’s almost laughable had it not come with the fact that equally ignorant readers may actually believe this nonsense. Seriously, the San Diego Reader loses credibility when it publishes fiction from some delusional fantasy writer. I write fiction also, but at least it’s entertaining. What this clown is writing is inflammatory, slanderous and straight out bullshit, for lack of a more fitting term.

Please, do your organization a favor and demand your writers write facts. Otherwise, you should notate in large letters that THIS IS JUST FICTION AND NO FACTS REMAIN!

The pit bull was bred to be a nanny dog in Europe 150-200 years ago, and the breed still predominantly exhibits that loving, caring, doting personality. As for the viscous strains, please continue the truth in print that it is solely human error, forcing these approval-seeking, unconditionally loyal dogs to do something no dog in the world wants to do, which is fight.

For every dog that is rescued from a dog fighting ring, there are about 100,000 who are loving, sweet, submissive, passive, and gentle.

Please print facts or you will lose your readers — or at least the ones who aren’t waiting for the zombie apocalypse in their mother’s basement.

  • Dawnrose D’Aloia
  • Edison, NJ


Humans Are the Problem

My pit bull turned seven April 3. I’m not sure if that is his actual birthday, but that’s the day we rescued him, so it’ll have to do. As I email you, he is sleeping on my lap, snoring away. His name is Benson.

It’s very difficult for me to put into words how the article written by Bill Manson makes me feel. Obviously, I am upset. I am hurt and angry at the thought of someone perpetuating a stereotype of a dog that is outrageously misunderstood and misrepresented in the media. But I also feel very sad for Mr. Manson. Losing a pet, especially in such a vicious manner must be incredibly traumatic.

One time, driving to the park, Benson got his paw stuck in a metal grate that was in the back of our truck. I should have covered it with cloth, but I figured it was such a short drive that it wouldn’t cause a problem Benson, however, has the worst luck and always manages to get himself stuck in a sticky wicket.

I heard his cries and immediately pulled over, ran to the back and pulled down the hatch. He was fine, but I couldn’t stop shaking. I shook for an hour, well into our walk at the park, at the echoes of his cries — scared, and in pain. Those cries stick with me even today.

This is nothing in comparison to watching your animal get attacked, standing helplessly while they are in pain. I cannot imagine the sounds Mr. Manson hears when he thinks about the day his cat was killed. As an animal lover, I feel deeply and sincerely for his loss.

I know why he wrote this article, and I know why he doesn’t like pit bulls, and I cannot hold that against him. I could write this email filled with facts and figures explaining how Mr. Manson is wrong, and his information is from a notoriously faulty site that has a history of skewing facts, especially when it comes to pit bulls.

I won’t do that because I know you’ll be receiving plenty of emails enumerating the inaccuracies. Pit bull advocates are a tenacious group, and quite used to the slander, so we have our facts at the ready.

What I’ll say is common sense. Dogs are a reflection of their owner, of their treatment, of their environment. No dog is inherently evil, malicious, or set to kill. This article is fear mongering, it is click bait, it is not journalism. This is not a newsworthy story. This is hate. Not every pit bull should have to pay for the incredibly irresponsible ownership of the dogs mentioned in his story.

Would having my Benson killed make Mr. Manson feel better? Would he sleep better at night knowing that my family is ripped apart, because his was? It seems like a terribly sad and hateful existence if he spends his days wishing that happy families should suffer as he has.

BSL doesn’t stop the problem, it perpetuates it. It keeps the myth going that pit bulls are bad dogs and are not to be trusted, which is the exact opposite. These dogs are amazing, loyal, smart, and sweet. It’s the humans that are the problem.

Please take down this article. This is not journalism.

  • Brittney Moseley
  • New York City

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