Noe Valley Voice September 2002

Letters to the Editor

The Way This Dog Sees It


Hi, woof, woof. It's me, Lance the Guide Dog. Remember when I wrote you last? Well, now I am 4 years old and have been with my handler for about three years. We've been working well together, but we need our community's help.

When I am working (which is whenever I have my harness on), I am encountering a lot of distractions from people, especially those with off-leash animals. They may be trying to help or just say hello, but this is very tough for me because I really need to concentrate on keeping my partner safe. It is way too easy for us to get hurt if I get distracted or interfered with. So please, always ask permission of my handler before addressing or petting me.

Other dogs are a big problem because they do not understand that I cannot play or even sniff. They weave between my partner's legs trying to get to me, and have caused him to fall. I really appreciate the people who have their animals on a leash, pull them aside, and let us pass without physical contact of any kind. I love to meet, greet, and play with other dogs, but never when I am in my harness.

This year, my handler and I have been attacked three times, twice by off-leash animals in public places. I didn't know what was happening or why. I just felt teeth sinking into my face, blood flowing out, and an angry dog snarling, growling, and attacking me. I yelped in pain and panicked. My poor handler could not tell what was happening or how to help me -- one attacking dog knocked him to the ground in his rush to get at me. It has taken weeks for us to calm down. We have been afraid to go out by ourselves without a sighted human.

The shame is, these incidents can be easily prevented with adequate control of all animals in public. So please, every time you take an animal out, put a leash on it even before you open the door, and maintain full control of the animal while out.

Thank you for your support. We'll keep in touch. Wags and licks to all.

Paco Alfaro

for Lance the Guide Dog

Cesar Chavez Street

Crime Reporting Too P.C.


I was very alarmed after reading about the armed robbery on 24th Street in your Police Beat section in the June Noe Valley Voice. Do you have a more detailed description of these two thugs? I know you're all very politically correct in Noe and the thought of mentioning the race of these two criminals is very un-P.C., but it would be helpful in this situation, as our lives are possibly at risk.

N. Clifford

23rd Street

Why Is Race Missing?


I am curious why you leave out the race of assailants and perpetrators in the Police Beat in the Noe Valley Voice [June 2002].

Race is one of the most distinguishing characteristics to eyewitnesses and helps people identify criminals, which is why it is included in police reports, wanted posters, etc.

Was this an inadvertent omission? If the Police Beat is a community service meant to inform and help nab bad guys, then please include the race going forward so we can better help the policy.

I greatly enjoy the community-building nature of your newspaper. Keep up the great work.

Price Roe

Jersey Street

Editor's Response: Thanks to N. Clifford and Price Roe for pointing out our past inconsistencies in Police Beat and other crime stories in the Voice. Their letters have helped us to refine our standards. In general, it is the policy of the Noe Valley Voice to report on race or ethnic identity only when it is pertinent to the story (as in the case of a racially motivated "hate" crime). Also, in describing a crime suspect who is still at large, we will give race or ethnicity only when we feel we have sufficient other details (such as age, height, weight, hair color, scars, or clothing) to exclude all but a narrow group of people. According to this rule, in one of the incidents described in the June 2002 issue, we perhaps should have reported the ethnic identity of the assailant. However, our Police Beat column, which recounts crimes that are often two months old, is intended to help local residents be more aware of their surroundings and more vigilant about their safety. We hope you will accept that the Voice has to strike a balance between total reporting of the facts and casting suspicion on an entire group of people simply because of the color of their skin.