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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blood, Shit, and a Proposed Task Force Highlighted at Grace Cathedral Canine Confab

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 8:30 PM

Chance visitors to the conference room at Nob Hill's Grace Cathedral might have taken the proceedings therein as an odd semblance of civic engagement: Gargantuan photographs of dog turds greeted those who walked in the door, and several close-ups of a gaping leg wound were displayed on the stage at the front of the room. Meanwhile, a lot of the folks milling about wore stickers reading, "Dog Lover." Sure, it seems a little weird. But San Francisco's veteran dog gangstas know it's all in the game.


Marion Cope speaks in front of photos of her injury
  • Marion Cope speaks in front of photos of her injury
Tonight was the much-anticipated summit meeting arranged by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu in the wake of the brutal November dog attack on 74-year-old Nob Hill resident Marion Cope. More than 100 attended -- the majority of them Nob Hill residents -- in a preliminary bid to hash out the dispute over leash laws that heated up after Cope was injured.

A cop and a gaggle of robed clergypersons were on hand to keep the peace, and for a time it seemed like they might be called into action. Cope, the widow of Newton Cope, former proprietor of the swanky Huntington Hotel, gave a graphic description of her injury -- a 10-inch gash to the leg, which she said became infected and carried a risk of amputation -- and a round denunciation of what she called "gross negligence on the part of city officials" who didn't adequately enforce leash laws at Huntington Park.

click to enlarge Huntington Park
  • Huntington Park

Then, as this cry for justice was in crescendo, a loud beeper went off in the audience. One of the pro-dog folks was timing Cope's speech with his own stopwatch, and loudly insisted that she had exceeded her time limit.

"You try three weeks, and part of the time in a bedpan," Cope retorted, referring to her period of convalescence after surgery.

With the meeting off to such an auspicious start, Constant Reader, your correspondent thought the evening might end in a seaman's bar brawl -- or at least some steeple-striking lightning, The Omen-style, to indicate God's displeasure with the dog-centric preoccupations of His children in San Francisco. But things proceeded civilly enough thereafter, as members of the public made sundry pro- and anti-dog comments amidst the embittered mutterings of their fellows.

Chiu capped the night with a proposal that Nob Hill residents form a task force of 10 to 12 people to work on a new leash-law policy governing Huntington Park. It is currently illegal to run dogs off-leash at the park.

click to enlarge Huntington Park
  • Huntington Park

"I have to admit, I was surprised by the civility and respect and, frankly, humor which you have brought to this conversation," Chiu told the dogged masses.

Supervisor, you said it.

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Peter Jamison

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