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Ventura County Perspective

Defending Homeless, Not Wild Animals

November 15, 1998

* Re: "Pit Bulls Kill Dog, Attack Its Owner," Nov. 7.

I was upset and outraged by a quote in the article recounting a horrific pit bull attack in the Thousand Oaks area. Jim Houghton, a resident of Westlake Village, said, "My problems are coyotes, rattlesnakes, transients and black widows. We are borrowing this land from nature but you would rather have this attack come from a natural animal than a domestic animal."

Is he referring to transients as wild animals? How can he possibly place the homeless in the same category as rattlesnakes and black widow spiders?

The Westlake area really does not have a major "transient problem" anyway. Having worked at Westlake Community Hospital for two years before it closed, I can honestly say they do not have a problem. There are just a few homeless people trying to survive. I do not have exact figures on the number of coyotes, rattlesnakes or black widows in the area, but somehow I think the homeless are not as great a threat.

I think it is sad when someone cannot see past the person's appearance to realize we are all the same. I work with the homeless now, and have found most to be polite and thankful. Maybe Jim Houghton should reconsider his outrageous statement and realize most homeless do not choose to be that way. They are often there because of mental illness, poverty or addiction.

I truly hope Mr. Houghton never has to see what it is like on the streets, but if he does, I hope he does not meet anyone with this kind of attitude!

DIANE WREN

Simi Valley

*

Our hearts go out to the woman who lost her dog to a pit bull attack. We know what it's like to lose a beloved pet in such a violent and needless way.

In May, our dachshund was killed by two pit bulls that had escaped from their yard. Our dog was attacked while walking on a leash in the neighborhood greenbelt.

Just last week, a friend's dog was attacked on Shelf Road in Ojai by an unleashed pit bull mix. The dog survived the attack--with $2,000 in vet bills.

It is bad enough that pets are killed and injured. But in both of these cases there were children in the area. The animal control officer who investigated our case told us that last year in Oak Park a pit bull that was a family pet attacked and killed the family's baby.

One hears that it is bad owners who train these dogs to attack other dogs and people, but it seems to us that these dogs are unstable even when trained by responsible owners. Other communities throughout the United States have banned these dogs. We feel that, in light of these and other incidents, Ventura County should institute such a ban.

LORRAINE MARIZ

MATTHEW LANGJAHR

JOSEPH RUGGIERO

Camarillo

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