[ Bedazzled Reader: on March 7th I sent the following letter to various gay newspapers here in San Francisco. First to the Bay Area Reporter in response to their article, “Badlands faces discrimination complaint”. It’s about an unruly patron who wanted to bring in an equally-unruly dog. This is my “long version,” which includes a 3-paragraph passage not part of the actual letter sent. Which excerpt I’ve italicized and colored green. ]
I am in full support of Badlands Club refusing to allow a dog onto their premises, as reported in your last edition. Both the doorman and the owner (Les Natali) did the right thing by preventing a drunk patron along with his poorly behaved (and rather large) canine, from upsetting and possibly endangering everyone else present. Here’s the real problem:
Dogs are sensitive to loud, shrill and sudden bursts of noise, no matter how gentle they otherwise are. For this reason, bars are the worst environment. They will panic and possibly attack someone out of desperation to stop the pain in their eardrums. This has happened to me, twice, in the same bar located South of Market. First time, some redneck dyke entered with a formidable pit bull.
The bar was busting with cacophony from the loudspeakers, and I did not enjoy remaining there with someone’s powerful pet that is obviously not raised by the most responsible owner in the city (to put it mildly). In other words: a Diane Whipple disaster in the making. So I left.
Second time, about two years later, a patron entered with a large, nervous poodle. I could see it jerk suddenly with apprehension whenever the loudspeakers hit a high note or an ear-busting boom. Then when I stepped between that dog and the pool table to move up front, it leapt and chomped down on my leg. I was not injured since fortunately, a pair of thick denim jeans protected me. But neither the pet’s owner nor the bartender showed any concern…in fact, they both blamed me for stirring things up!
Another incident (outside the bars) occurred at Walgreens on 18th & Castro about five years ago. I turned an aisle to suddenly be confronted by a dog of intimidating size: muscular and large-jawed. I stood frozen as he stuck his big nose up my crotch and did not back off. Its owner finally pulled him away and started to holler at me. Then an employee joined the fray and told me to leave, not the idiotic dog owner! It is illegal to allow pets into a store that sells food, for your information.
Yet one more example, this time at a coffeehouse, occurred where a surly young dude (obviously a bit off his rocker) entered with a pit bull that suddenly snapped at an infant in a stroller. The father confronted him, to whom the scumbag replied: “He’s a service dog, I can have him with me anywhere I want.” The employees said nothing, did not 86 the offender.
MUNI also allows any and all kinds of service animals, and posts a sign to that effect on many of their transports. Regardless of endangerment to passengers, when some street thug brings aboard a huge dog that is clearly ill-raised. At which point all riders are captive prisoners of potential violence.
I have noticed that anyone can call their animal a “service pet” without showing proof. Many of these pet owners (I have also observed) are ill tempered, immature jerkwads who should not keep any creature as companion. They choose large dogs such as pit bulls and Rottweilers precisely because they are bullies, and enjoy pushing people around through fear.
My deepest regard goes out to Mr. Natali, Badlands, and any other gay bars that may be subjected to arrogant nitwits who take gross advantage of their privilege to own a service pet. Using it to harass decent folks in order to satiate their fat egos and hopefully win a lucrative lawsuit in the process.
Such pet owners should be behind bars, not in bars. Along with those poor beasts subjected to cruel mistreatment which then grow up to be loaded, unmuzzled weapons in violation of the public trust. Should this buffoon of a dog owner, Paul Ponsiglione, win his case against Badlands, I’m afraid we’ll see many “service” animals attack other patrons and cause these bars unmerited expense of lawsuits by injured customers, and eventual loss of their license.