A Dog's Life BY DARREN LEWIS

Coalition on Homelessness, SF (coh@sfo.com)
Thu, 21 Oct 1999 20:45:41 -0800


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	A Dog's Life
 
	Growing up in the South I learned a lot about how to get rid 
of stray dogs, and most will agree that you have to get rid of them. 
I mean, who wants to see some mangy, flea-bitten, dirty ol' mutt 
wandering around in the streets? Besides, he's probably sick or maybe 
even rabid. What I was taught was that, first of all, you never feed 
a stray - if you do it will never go away. If you come in contact 
with a stray dog, wave your arms and shout threateningly. If the dog 
is persistent, then throw a rock at it. If the dog still persists in 
hanging around then it is safe to assume that the dog is sick or mad 
- and the best thing to do is just shoot it.
      	Now think about that for a minute - then consider the 
policies of some of our social and political leaders, as well as the 
police, in dealing with homeless people.
See any similarities? I do!
	First, they have the belief that homeless people are dirty, 
mangy, flea-bitten eye-sores to our fair city and should therefore be 
moved along where the decent honest citizens won't have to look at 
them. This is demonstrated in "Infamous" Amos Brown's "Pedestrian 
Safety Act." Then we have Earl (I like to pretend I'm really Bruce 
Wayne) Rynerson wanting everyone on GA to receive vouchers for 
housing and services that don't actually exist, instead of cash 
assistance. Why? Because they maintain that everyone knows homeless 
people are all crazy, and maybe even drug addicts or alcoholics.
	What about never feeding a stray or it will never go away? 
Why, just a few weeks ago our brave, blue-clad defenders of law and 
order reinforced this belief by shutting down a group of high school 
kids who had been handing out free sack lunches to hungry people for 
around five years.
	What about the way they wave the long arm of the law at 
homeless people with these so called "Quality of Life" violations? Or 
even better, the proposed shopping cart or median strip legislation.
	As for throwing rocks at homeless people, I'll admit I've 
never heard that particular complaint from a homeless person. I just 
see and hear about homeless people being beaten half to death for 
petty infractions. And if you question whether or not the police 
would just as soon shoot a homeless person as deal with them, then 
you should talk to Clarence Dorsey, or Margaret LaVerne Mitchell. Too 
bad we can't, they're not with us anymore.
	The further we look into this, the more and more evidence we 
find that homeless people are not viewed as people, but as stray 
dogs. At least one would tend to think so. But I have personally seen 
that it's just not true.
	You see, a couple of weeks back I went to the SPCA to visit 
with all the dogs who, like me, don't have a home.
	While I was there, I couldn't help but notice that the dogs 
all lived in nice little doggie condo units with heating and air 
conditioning, TV, free food and free medical care. And in order to 
help them better integrate into the outside world, they are given 
training so that they are more attractive prospects for potential 
owners.
	So you see, our leaders and law enforcement officials don't 
really treat homeless people like they treat stray dogs.
	They treat the dogs better.

	Darren Lewis
 

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chance martin
Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
468 Turk St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
vox: (415) 346.3740
Fax: (415) 775.5639
coh@sfo.com
http://www.sfo.com/~coh