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Neighborhood Mad as Hell About Dot-Cow Disease
By Suzanne Hereford-Holstein
Noe Valley residents are turning off their computers, and it's not because of the energy crisis. City health officials this week mailed out notices confirming the first instance of the highly contagious dot-cow disease jumping from the virtual to the real world.
The epidemic first gained attention with the infection of Petsmirk.com and Petsmut.com. The web site of the San Francisco SPCA, puttosleep.org, was also thought to have been infected by the virus, but an investigation revealed that the Internet server had simply been overburdened by out-of-work dot-commers and pre-teen girls logging on to watch animals on the SPCA's web cam.
But last week an unidentified Douglass Street vegan opened up a carton of pig's ears from Petsmell.com and found an honorary membership card from the California Cattlemen's Association. "I don't know what horrified me more--being associated with the meat industry, or the idea of becoming a member of a group that doesn't have the sensitivity to change its name to Cattleperson," the woman said.
Petsmell representatives were at a loss to explain where the brochures came from or how the woman was awarded membership in such an exclusive group.
As news of her experience spread, other Noe Valley pet owners began spurning Internet pet suppliers and turning to local brick-and-mortar merchants. "We welcome having the customers back," said Ken L. Ration, owner of the Noe Valley Animal Corporation, "but they've gotten awfully suspicious about where we stand on red meat. "Last Friday night, my wife had a hankering for something from Sizzler," he continued. "When I went to pick it up, I got the feeling I was being watched. I don't think it's a coincidence that business has dropped off since then."
Not surprisingly, Harpoono Sushi has reported a spike in its popularity. "I heard that you could catch dot-cow disease if you merely ate off the same dishes as a meat eater--even if they've been washed in hot water," said one nervous diner.
The brouhaha over dot-cow disease has led health officials to keep an eye out for signs of another bovine-borne scourge: foot-in-mouth disease. A speaker at a recent meeting of the Noe Valley Podiatric Club told the audience she feared that President Bush, who suffers from the disease himself, might have tracked it in on his boots on a March trip to California.
"Think about it: The disease first made headlines around that time," she mused. "And it used to be called 'hoof-in-mouth' disease. Think cloven hoof, think horns...I think you get the picture."