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Do It for Mama!

by Jerrold J. Mundis

In the harrowing and ironic story that follows, Jerrold J. Mundis gives us a frightening, all-too-plausible look into the future of New York City . . . a not-too-distant, not-too-different future, where the simple act of taking your dog out for a walk might turn out to be the most dangerous thing you’ll ever do . . .

Jerrold J. Mundis is a veteran author whose work has appeared in such publications as The New York Times Magazine, American Heritage, Harper’s Weekly, New Worlds, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and New York Magazine. His books include Gerhardt’s Children, and The Dogs. His most recent book is Back to the Black.

* * *

At 12:40 P.M. on Tuesday, September 13, Patrolmen Gerald O’Malley and Walter Ensley knocked on the door of an apartment on Mulberry Street. They were admitted by Joseph D’Agostino, an unemployed longshoreman. His wife was sitting on a sofa in the living room at the end of a hall. She held a beagle in her lap, and she was crying. D’Agostino smiled at the policemen and asked, “This is a joke, right? You guys ain’t really lookin’ to take my dog.” Patrolman Ensley answered that is was their duty to confiscate the animal in accordance with Section 161.05 of the Health Code—unless the D’Agostinos could produce a certificate of authorization from the Environmental Protection Administration. D’Agostino said he couldn’t, and then offered the policemen a $50 bribe, which they refused. The longshoreman stepped aside and motioned them toward the living room. He said to his wife, “I’m sorry, baby. There’s no other way.” As the officers passed through the arch at the end of the hall, they were assaulted from both sides by three men who had been hiding, and by D’Agostino from the rear. They were savagely beaten with pipes and heavy pieces of dowling and kicked with steel-toed work boots. Then, bleeding and insensible, they were dragged from the building and dumped in the gutter.

It was the first major incident of what has come to be known throughout this nation, and in many foreign countries as, well, as “Bloody Tuesday.”

Six weeks have passed, and now an uneasy peace prevails in the city. The New Yorker in the street has reassumed his traditional mask of detachment, his formal and sometimes cold politeness. But within him still roils the maelstrom of shame and hatred that is September 13’s legacy. Scattered incidents of violence have erupted since then, but police have damped them quickly, and in several cases even passersby have sprung forward to pull the combatants apart. Such willingness to become involved is new to the people of New York, where 30 persons once increased the volume of their radios and television sets so they would not have to listen to the screams of a young woman being stabbed to death in front of their building. The reason is simple: they are willing to chance minor personal injury in order to stave off the immensely more frightening consequences of a recurrence of the events of last month.

As Decoration or Memorial Day has a greater reality than the date May 30th, so also has Bloody Tuesday brutally supplanted September 13th.

Section 161.05 of the Health Code was passed by the City Council in March of this year. It reads: “No person shall cause or allow a dog or other member of the canine family to be owned, kept, maintained, possessed or controlled in his own residence or in the residencies of his agents, tenants or lessees except as provided for in the regulations of the Environmental Protection Administration. Persons violating this section will be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 and/or imprisonment of not less than six months, nor more than one year.” The regulations of the Environmental Protection Administration, approved and passed on the same day, dictate that authorization will be given only to dogs who are (1) guides for the blind, (2) necessary for the mental or emotional health of the owner (as attested to by an affidavit from a licensed psychiatrist), or (3) essential to the owner’s personal safety or that of his business (as confirmed by written statement from the commanding officer of the applicant police precinct). It was estimated that these conditions would permit not more than 3,500 dogs to remain in the city.

This legislation was the culmination of a struggle between pro- and anti-dog forces that has gripped New York with the power of an idée fixe for more than a decade. The issue has been contested in public hearings, judicial chambers, bars, supermarkets, subways and taxies, in hippie pads and sumptuous penthouses, at dinner parties and on street corners. It has received more media air time and column space in New York City than has the controversial Latin American war, including the President’s decision last year to resume the bombing of Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. It has directly influenced a half-dozen major political careers and several more minor ones. The liberal and popular Alastair MacDonnel, for example, who followed John Lindsay into Gracie Mansion in 1974, was defeated after one term in a hard and bitter campaign by Nicholas Spinelli. Spinelli, a grass-roots conservative, beat a single and ever-loudening drum throughout the fight—BAN THE DOGS! BAN THE DOGS!

New York remains a fundamentally liberal city, but still it awarded Spinelli the mayoralty; there are simply more dog haters than dog lovers.

Bloody Tuesday was brought to a halt within 24 hours by an emergency session of the City Council. But by then the tally had already risen to:

*43 persons dead,

*387 persons injured,

*8 women raped,

*6 buildings burned,

*56 apartments reduced to shambles,

*700 windows broken,

*16 vehicles demolished, and

*300 to 500 dogs slaughtered before the eyes of their horror-stricken owners.

Professional criminals took swift advantage of the citywide confusion. Armed robbery was reported at 12 times its normal rate, burglary at eight, vehicle theft at two, and petty larceny at a staggering 21.

DIM is an acronym for Dogs Inimical to Man, Inc., an international anti-dog organization headquartered in New York City. It is commonly understood that the initials were taken from a movie of the late 1960s, Midnight Cowboy, in which a woman led her bejeweled poodle to the curb and anxiously urged the creature to “Do it for Mama!” DIM’s unofficial but traditional rallying cry is that same derisory request. DIM was founded in late 1971 by a handful of private citizens who were inspired by a New York Post editorial entitled “Filth City.” Pete Hamill, author of the editorial, was one of the first public figures to spotlight the growing problem of dogs in modern cities, and he stated that if no other solution could be found, “we could declare a bounty and start shooting them.” This suggestion was in good part capricious, but it was also pathetically prophetic.

Dog lovers at first dismissed DIM as a distasteful but harmless crank organization. Few understood the depth and intensity of the anti-dog sentiment that lay waiting to be tapped in New York, and in many other cities as well. Within 18 months DIM had recruited 15,000 members (at a $15 initiation fee, and annual dues of $10) and had authorized chapters in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami. By 1977 it was a strong social and political force actively supported by seven million members; its central offices occupied a new eight-story steel-and-glass building on Lexington Avenue; it had chapters in 21 American cities and six foreign countries. Its efforts, it is generally agreed, were the deciding factor in the election of Mayor Nicholas Spinelli.

DIM selected New York City as its test case and waged an extended, arduous, sometimes vicious, and hugely expensive campaign. Politicians, ecologists, city planners, psychiatrists, sociologists, pediatricians, social workers and experts from a wide variety of other disciplines testified against dogs alongside large numbers of private citizens at public hearings and in open forums. DOG (a loosely knit and poorly structured organization formed to defend canine “citizens”) produced its own expert and sympathetic witnesses.

Statisticians were baffled in attempts to draw social, economic, and ethnic profiles of dog haters and dog lovers. Allegiance was unpredictable: $75,000-a-year portfolio managers found themselves ranked side by side with Maoist revolutionaries, and both were as likely to view the dog as anathema as they were to see him as an integral part of human existence.

DIM presented an horrific picture. While the city’s human population increased by only 13 percent between 1970 and 1980 (eight million to nine million), the canine population rose by 50 percent, swelling from 500,000 to a formidable 750,000 animals—one dog for every 12 humans, one dog for every three families. In 1982, 46,000 New Yorkers (as opposed to 33,000 in 1970) were bitten seriously enough to require medical attention. Each day, dogs released 12,000 quarts of urine and dropped 281,000 pounds of excrement onto the streets.

“That gives us a million gallons of p__s each year,” said Timothy Flanagan, chief of the Uniformed Sanitation Workers. “Most of it dries up or gets washed into the sewers when it rains, but we still get a hundred and two million pounds of c__p that’s gotta be hauled away! Everyone complains we don’t pick up their garbage. Hell, we’re too busy cleanin’ up their dogs__t!”

City Health Commissioner Lawrence Reid said, “One needn’t be a medical man, or even be aware of the gruesome specifics, to know that all that waste material is a health hazard. I don’t know how we’ve escaped a plague thus far.”

Other experts did not eschew specifics. Toxocara canis, one disease cited, attacks and can do severe damage to the human victim’s liver, lungs, and eyes. Leptospirosis is an infection frequently involved with aseptic meningitis. Dogs can infect humans with scabies and ringworm. And an epidemic of rabies, DIM claimed, is also a constant hazard.

Louis G. Foster, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, stated: “Dogs commit aesthetic atrocities against the city. Their residue offends the eye whether it is piled atop the summer concrete, or blemishing the winter snow. One must be a talented obstacle runner to avoid befouling one’s shoes with the stuff. And bluntly . . . it stinks. Lord, how it stinks!”

Dogs are also sources of noise pollution, DIM pointed out. Throughout the city, from crowded tenement rooms to co-ops with river views, they bark and growl behind closed doors at the slightest sound. They hurl ear-punishing challenges at each other on the streets. They whine and scream with loneliness when their masters are away. The passage of a police or fire siren creates great, spreading waves of howls and wails that linger long into the night.

Many owners allow their pets to walk off leash; these dogs frequently menace or bowl people over, leap up in friendliness and soil clothes, or dash across streets, causing traffic accidents as motorists swerve to avoid them. DIM advises its members: “You, the driver, have the right of way: assert it.” Sports players, strollers, nature lovers and mothers with small children have been forced out of the parks by hordes of dogs unleashed for exercise.

Attack-trained dogs are a very serious problem. In 1970 there were 4,000 of these beasts in the city; in 1980 more than 10,000; and DIM claims the number has now risen to 14,000. These animals have been purchased in response to a mushrooming crime rate. Among other frightening statistics, the current odds are one in five that the average citizen will be robbed at gunpoint or mugged if he does not reach the sanctuary of his home by nightfall. A well-bred and properly trained attack-dog is an effective and safe defense against crime. He will attack only when commanded, or if his master is assaulted. Unfortunately, the skyrocketing demand for canine protection has caused a boom of unqualified “trainers,” whose simple technique is to abuse a dog so savagely that he becomes a man-hater intent on tearing apart everyone but his master, and even him sometimes; less than a third of New York City’s attack dogs have been competently trained; the rest are serious threats to the general public. Such animals have mutilated and inflicted serious and permanent damage upon many citizens.

Wisely, the DOG forces did not attempt to deny the problem, or even its magnitude. “Of course there are great difficulties,” said Marcus Crozier, Manhattan Borough president, and himself the owner of two yellow Labrador retrievers. “Solutions must be found, and soon. But proscribing dogs from the city is patently absurd. By the same reasoning, we should solve our poverty problem by banishing the poor.” This argument stood in DIM’s path like a snarling dog for some time; it suggested to the unsure citizen that a canine purge would be an evasion of responsibility, an admission of failure, a cop-out.

DOG also admitted that the brutalized, and therefore brutal, animals being sold as attack dogs were a definite menace. But the answer, they claimed, lay in the establishment of an agency to control standards, license qualified trainers, and certify the stability of finished dogs. So far as the bites of run-of-the-mill animals were concerned, these were usually of negligible severity, requiring little more treatment than a good cleaning and a Band-Aid. Dozens of professional trainers, behavioral psychologists, cynologists, and naturalists insisted there are very few renegade or truly vicious dogs. “When a dog bites,” said Dr. Charles Naylor, director of Animal Studies at the Johns Hopkins Institute, “there is always a reason—he’s being teased, frightened, stepped on or run into, he’s being beaten, and so on. What would you do if a stranger manhandled you? Dogs don’t dash around the streets looking for people to bite. Respect a dog’s rights, and he’ll respect yours.” As for unleashed animals, DOG suggested that enforcement of existing statutes would curtail the problem. To avoid burdening the already overworked police, DOG proposed a corps under the auspices of the ASPCA, that would be empowered to give tickets to owners of unleashed dogs.

Medical arguments against dogs were attacked as specious at best, perhaps even deliberately misleading. Howard Grossinger, DVM and president of the Veterinary Medical Association of the United States, testified: “Common prophylactic measures have all but eliminated rabies as a disease of domestic animals in the United States. There hasn’t been a single case in the New York area for 35 years. It would be more reasonable to fear a cholera epidemic than an outbreak of rabies.” Abundant documentary evidence made clear that dog wastes, no matter how aesthetically objectionable, posed no special threat to health. Dismissing DIM’s largest bugaboos, Dr. Grossinger commented: “A much larger incidence of ringworm and scabies is found among humans than dogs. If a dog contracts either, chances are that he got them from his owner. In any event, both diseases are easily treated. Leptospirosis can be contracted by swimming in water polluted with infected dog urine. However, since male dogs, as I’m sure you’re aware, employ the classic three-legged stance while urinating, and females must squat, swimming dogs rarely release their urine into water. Someone would have to dump several gallons of the diseased stuff into a swimming area. And having read the results of the Mayor’s Pure Water Survey, I assure you that persons daring most of the waters found in the Greater New York area would be felled by a variety of other diseases long before they could develop Leptospirosis. This disease, as well as Toxocara canis, may also be contracted by prolonged handling or ingestion of earth moist with the excrement or urine of infected dogs. I see little possibility of infection by this means unless New Yorkers are devoted to what would certainly be a most peculiar fetish. Gentlemen, without resorting to bold-face lies, you are simply not going to be able to condemn the dog as a health hazard. If you want to talk about the four or five million rats in this city, fine; I’d be happy to testify on behalf of the ‘anti’ faction.”

In four consecutive years, DOG managed to roll back four proposed pieces of restrictive legislation sponsored by DIM. Among these were an exorbitant annual license fee and a one percent surcharge on city income tax. Both were defeated on the grounds that they would discriminate in favor of the well-to-do.

The ASPCA and the American Kennel Club worked indefatigably with DOG to persuade pet owners to police themselves and reduce the annoyance quotient of their animals. Training handbooks were distributed free of charge by the ASPCA. DOG installed and serviced 25 experimental “Canine Comfort Stations,” public animal toilets. The stench from these was indescribable; many dogs refused to use them; most owners ignored them. Owners were urged to carry excrement retrieval equipment (cheap plastic tongs and plastic “Good Citizen” bags), but the cleanup process was rejected as embarrassing and/or inconvenient. Inconvenience (and protests from neighbors and landlords) also undermined a program in which corners of basements and roofs were to be designated “Relief Areas.”

The battle was waged with unflagging zeal and escalating hostility by both sides. Eventually most semblances of objectivity were lost and partisans went at each other with abandoned ferocity. It came down to the simple questions: “You for ’em, or against ’em?” Buttons reading Cities Are For Humans appeared on hundreds and thousands of lapels. DOG countered with its own buttons, which bore a paw print. Cleveland Amory, social commentator and long an influential champion of animal welfare, was one of DOG’s most eloquent and passionate spokesmen. At the public hearings late last year, he said in a tremulous voice: “Cities are indeed for humans, but to be human is to recognize one’s place in the totality of the natural world, to realize that the phrase ‘Man’s Best Friend’ was not the invention of a Madison Avenue copywriter, but the natural result of untold thousands of years of history in which man has shared his domicile with this most wondrous of creatures, in which the dog has worked for man, has loyally defended him, has been a boon and merry companion, and has solaced him through countless dark and lonely nights. Cities are for humans, yes, but the dog is inseparably bound to humans, and humans to it. The people who cry ban the dogs are those who would also have us build even higher skyscrapers, who would lay concrete over our parks, who would have us befoul what little remains of our once-beautiful world, and who would trap and destroy our souls in an automated vacuum of technological marvels. To these people I say, Never! Never! Never!”

Pete Hamill followed Mr. Amory to the stand. Grown cynical and snappish during the years of his repeated work in behalf of DIM, Hamill ended his testimony with his customary: “Put a bounty on the beasts; my rifle is ready.”

Mr. Amory shouted, “Put a bounty on Hamill! My rifle is ready!” and rushed the stand, where he and Mr. Hamill grappled furiously. One bailiff was kicked in the groin and another bitten on the arm before the combatants could be separated.

DOG’s efforts were valiant, but its cause foredoomed. Four elements were decisive in the passage of Section 161.05: (1) There were (and still are) so many dogs in the city that no one could escape them; there were, therefore, very few neutrals, and the majority were non-dog owners. (2) Severe or not, a bite remains a bite, and animals who puncture New Yorkers at the rate of 46,000 per year do not endear themselves to New Yorkers. (3) The 24-hour-per-day racket of these creatures shatters equilibrium and psyches. (4) The city, as Mr. Foster said, stinks, and, in the words of Mayor Spinelli, “We will just not, just not, put up with having to clean dogs__t off our shoes five and six times a day.”

Passage of the bill in March of this year caused a massive protest march of 200,000 persons down Fifth Avenue and touched off numerous demonstrations. There were small riots in East Harlem, Bryant Park, Tompkins Square, Sheridan Square, and the Chase Manhattan Plaza. Pete Hamill, Mayor Spinelli, and several other city officials were burned in effigy.

Dog owners were given six months to find new homes for their pets beyond the city limits. Both sides used their influence to obtain quick legal rulings on the constitutionality of the law.

The city was upheld throughout the United States District Court and the United States Court of Appeals. In July, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. There was no further legal way to fight Section 161.05. New York’s dogs had little more than two months’ grace remaining.

Never in the history of the United States—including prohibition, the racial struggle, and the wars in Indochina and Latin American—has such a great percentage of the population reacted with such consummate bitterness and openly declared that a law could be damned. Hundreds of thousands of buttons, bumper stickers, decals, and door and window banners blossomed throughout the city. These bore one of two slogans: Cleveland Amory’s Never! Never! Never! or State Senator John Gordon’s reworking of an old radical cry, Hell, No, Dogs Won’t Go! Mr. Gordon (Rep., Queens) who once condemned William F. Buckley, Jr., as a “com-symp,” was a screaming hawk on the Latin American war very nearly before there was a Latin American war, and last year carried the standard of Law, Order, & Morality to previously unimagined heights when he introduced in the state legislature, and fought in behalf of with the zeal of God’s Soldier, a bill mandating the death penalty for any person convicted of desecrating the American flag. (The bill was defeated 55 to 2.) Accused by Time magazine, among others, of contradicting the stance of his last 40 years, Mr. Gordon, who is never seen without Fiji, his AKC champion Old English sheepdog replied: “That’s ridiculous. There is no inconsistency whatsoever in my positions. The relationship between man and dog was born in antiquity. We are inseparable, almost a single corporate entity. As man has neither the right nor the ability to legislate against his heartbeat, so has he neither the right nor the ability to legislate against his dogs.”

Conservative Party strategist Terrence Campbell commented, “I think it is time to muzzle John Gordon.”

“No gun control, no dog control,” said Clarence Brown, Black Panther leader famed for the two attack-trained Dobermans always at his side.

Osai Adoko, national director of BAM! (Black Action, Man!), spat, “Cities for the People. Off Whitey’s mother f___g mutts!”

“This is simply one more fascist boot heel jammed in the face of the American people,” said Timothy O’Malley, S.J. Father O’Malley, the fugitive priest recently placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List in connection with the bomb-destruction of the Army Chemical Warfare Computer Center at Fort Bellamy, made his remarks in a secret interview taped by an American Broadcasting Company crew. “By what right does any legislative body constituted by man presume to deprive human beings of those few comforts that remain in this death-worshiping, soul-shriveling society? The military-industrial complex is trying to lobotomize the citizenry and create a nation of mechanized automatons who will do their bidding without question. Defy them! Keep your dogs! Spit on their godless and thanatotic encroachments. Brothers and sisters, venceremos! We shall be victorious!”

Bugaboo Bob, thirty-four-year-old founder of the New Yippie Yassuh White Radical Bandersnatches, exhorted: “For the brotherhood of Man, for the cause of Peace, Freedom, and Equality, get rid of the goddamn dogs. Take the cities! Kill the stinking animals and use the bloody meat to feed the poor and the starving. Death to dogs!”

There were scattered incidents of violence: several persons were beaten; a bomb was detonated in DIM’s headquarters after hours, causing extensive damage but no personal injury; politicians, and officers and spokesmen of DIM received threatening letters; and East Side gynecologist Irving Siegel shot gunned his neighbor to death after the man taunted Siegel about the impending removal of Siegel’s pet Airedale.

Roughly 3,000 persons did dispose of their animals during March through April. Cleveland Amory characterized them as “the kind of people who would press a loaded pistol to their temples, smile, and pull the trigger while saluting the flag if the government told them to.” More than 15,000 dog registrations were removed from the ASPCA’s files, which are the sole repository of the city’s dog records. No formal charges were made, but three clerks were dismissed, and the ASPCA public relations director implied in an ambiguous press release that the men were zealous dog lovers who had undertaken a systematic destruction of as many records as possible. Only half of New York’s dog owners have ever bothered to obtain the required license for their animals. This meant that of slightly more than 750,000 dogs, records existed for only 360,000, a serious obstacle to the implementation of Section 161.05.

Ignoring outraged cries of Police State! the city opened an office to which “responsible citizens” could report the locations of their own or other persons’ dogs by letter or telephone. Dog partisans crippled this agency by overloading it with false information. DIM stepped in again, rented an IBM computer and hired a clerical staff of 30 and a team of 100 field investigators. The system worked this way. Upon receipt of a lead, the computer checked the informant’s name against the city telephone directories. If there was no listing, the report was rejected out of hand. If the name did appear, the informant was called to verify that it was indeed he who had made the report. Upon confirmation, a field investigator was dispatched. If existence of a dog at a given address was validated, that information was locked into the computer. If invalidated, the informant’s name was listed as unreliable, and any additional intelligence he offered was dismissed. Two field verifications earned automatic acceptance of further notifications. Investigators often initiated their own reports, and a loose system of volunteer block captains was organized.

DOG fought the program hard, but DIM’s computer, backed by its human adjuncts, was relentless and very nearly invulnerable. By shifting animals to the homes of sympathetic friends for a few days and then filing informant’s reports, dog owners managed to salt a few thousand erroneous cases into the machine’s memory cells, but these were of little consequence.

On September 6, DIM turned over to the city a printout which pinpointed the locations of 617,359 dogs, all of whom would be declared contraband in one week.

The city became suddenly quiet. The furor of the last many years vanished in an afternoon. Alternatives exhausted, rhetoric useless. New York City prepared in grim silence to go to war against itself.

Newspapers and local television stations reminded their audiences several times daily that as of 9:00 A.M. Tuesday, September 13, all dogs not sanctioned by Approval Form 758 from the Environmental Protection Administration would be subject to confiscation. Only 1,100 such documents had been issued. Many dog lovers, across the country and in other parts of the world as well as in New York, had believed that the ultimatum was a bluff. Several commentators alluded to the Berlin Wall crisis in which the Soviet Union had threatened the United States with war unless it withdrew from the Berlin Wall. Nothing happened. Large numbers assumed it would be the same with New York’s dogs. Even English Prime Minister Douglas Pierce-Bryson called upon Americans to “end this nonsensical farce.”

But New York was quite serious. Obviously, 750,000 dogs would require a lot of rounding up. City officials enlisted the help of strategists from the Pentagon and Sperry Rand in devising a game plan. They selected Manhattan, where the canine population was most concentrated, as the primary target, then further refined this to six of the borough’s 22 precincts. It was estimated that 30,000 to 40,000 animals could be removed per week, and hoped that this number would rise as many dog owners, faced with the inevitability of confiscation, removed their pets from the city themselves. Planners predicted that Manhattan would be “sanitized” within six weeks. Manhattan-based police were ordered to work 12-hour shifts for the duration, and all leaves were canceled. The National Guards’ 569th Transportation Battalion, the 669th Transportation Detachment, and the 102nd Engineer Battalion were mobilized for support of the program. A staging area with fenced perimeters and several hundreds of ground stakes and short bench-chains was constructed in the Central Park Sheep Meadow. Confiscated dogs were to be brought here first, registered, then dispatched to holding depots in Queens and the Bronx. Ironically, the city hired handler and attack-dog teams from a private agency to protect the Sheep Meadow installation after it had been vandalized three successive nights by pro-dog forces. Five hundred ASPCA auxiliaries were also standing by, hastily trained volunteers who were to assist in taking troublesome dogs into custody, and to see that the animals were treated humanely.

Dogs for whom new homes could not be found would, as facilities became crowded, be “euthanized.” While DOG’s only response to Section 161.05 was militant antipathy and rejection, the ASPCA and the American Kennel Club organized a contingency adoption program. Appeals were broadcast for two months, specifically aimed at New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Proximity of relocated dogs to the city was important, a psychological comfort to original owners, who would be able to visit their pets; and, since the city had no funds for the project, new “parents” had to pick up their dogs from the holding depots themselves. Offers of new homes were received from each of the 50 states, and totaled more than 1,500,000.

Studies by the federal government indicate that Tuesday is the least likely day for employees to absent themselves from their jobs. Accordingly, the campaign was to begin on a Tuesday morning; though some resistance was expected, the fewer heads of households who were home, planners reasoned, the more this resistance would be minimized. The six precincts had also been carefully selected. The 20th and 24th precincts cover the area from Central Park west to the Hudson River, and from 59th Street north to 110th Street. This contained the highest ratio of dogs to humans in the borough and it was hoped that by purging the “enemy’s” stronghold, morale among dog owners in other precincts would be damaged and the job made easier. The 19th and 23rd precincts run from the east side of the park (Fifth Avenue) to the East River, and from 59th Street to 110th. This is Manhattan’s wealthiest enclave. These educated, affluent, and privileged citizens were expected to submit without much difficulty. The precincts were also logistically attractive; they bracketed the park and the staging area, and trucks bound for the holding depots could be routed with equal ease to the Triboro and 59th Street bridges, or the Midtown Tunnel. The 13th precinct runs from Fifth Avenue to the East River and from 14th Street to 38th Street, a rather nebulous and undefined area without any easily observed neighborhood characteristics. Authorities did not anticipate much trouble here. The 5th precinct encompasses New York’s Chinatown and Little Italy. The Chinese, traditionally, defer to the law without protest, and New York’s Italian community has enthusiastically supported Law, Order, & Morality for the last decade and a half. The city’s strategy, then, was: (1) flush the dogs from their biggest enclave, and (2) begin with areas in which the prominent sentiment was, if not strongly anti-dog, then at least supportive of the city’s legislative and judicial authority.

In theory, the operation was meticulously planned, streamlined, and highly effective.

In practice, it was a disaster of the first magnitude.

Integrated units of police, ASPCA auxiliaries and National Guardsmen were to be in position by 8:45 A.M. on Tuesday, September 13, and to begin confiscating animals promptly at 9:00. That of course was high optimism. It is remarkable that the program got under way as early as it did—11:55 A.M. At that moment a city policeman and an auxiliary were admitted to an apartment on Park Avenue and 76th Street, and there took into possession without difficulty a Welsh corgi.

At 11:58, two patrolmen armed with the blanket “premises of John Doe, harborer of an illegal canine” search warrant that had been issued to all participating police, entered an apartment on Broome Street with the help of the building superintendent, who opened the door with his passkey. No human occupant was present. The police took custody of a black Labrador retriever, and left the required receipt on the kitchen table.

The first incident occurred at 12:00. Mrs. Ellen Puckett of West 87th Street refused entrance to two officers and an auxiliary. Patrolman Donald Summers attempted to reason with her through the door while Patrolman Michael Esposito summoned the superintendent. The superintendent opened the lock and admitted the officers. Mrs. Puckett’s fox terrier was barking in a closet where she had attempted to conceal it. As Patrolman Esposito snapped a leash to the animal’s collar, Mrs. Puckett struck him over the head with a plaster of Paris statue. Five stitches were required to close Esposito’s wound, and Mrs. Puckett was charged with felonious assault.

Isolated, the episode possesses a certain low comedic value; akin, say, to second-rate Buster Keaton. But, far from humorous, it was the beginning of Bloody Tuesday, a day which has been referred to by respected social analysts as “the worst civil disorder since the Draft Riots of the 1860s” and “the initial stumble of what will prove to be the total collapse of American society.”

At first, most resistance took the form of individual defensive tactics: new locks to which superintendents had no keys; doors barricaded with furniture or even nailed shut; dogs hidden in basements or the apartments of friends; animals rushed to new buildings as police cars and National Guard trucks pulled to the curbs; pets removed to precincts not included in the pogrom. Dog owners and their sympathizers glared at law officers and frequently insulted and cursed them. DIM supporters walked up to police and National Guardsmen, shook their hands and clapped them on the back. A few fistfights were reported between the two factions.

At 12:30 a patrol car on Mulberry Street radioed that some 30 persons had barred the officers from a building and were now pelting them with eggs and garbage. Similar occurrences were reported on East 61st and Prince streets. On Bayard Street stones were hurled, shattering a patrol car’s windshield. These were Law, Order, & Morality precincts. Officials felt the first tiny stirrings of doubt. On East 26th Street, three officers and two auxiliaries with half a dozen barking canines in tow were followed from a building by a handful of owners who were both irate and grieving. The policemen found two National Guardsmen tied and gagged at the curbside, and every tire on the patrol car and Guard truck slashed. A small crowd stood grinning around the disabled vehicles. The police received hoots and jeers when they untied the Guardsmen. One dog owner snatched his pet’s leash from an auxiliary’s hand and dashed away. The crowd prevented the officers from giving chase.

Anti-dog elements were also active. They gave up-to-the-minute intelligence to the police, informing them, for example, that certain dogs had been moved a few flights up or down to another apartment, or taken to the building next door. They produced tools and happily assisted in forcing sealed doors. They stood voluntary guard over vehicles while officers were in buildings, and they clashed with dog supporters who harassed or attempted to interfere with police. On West 63rd a small gang cornered persons foolish enough to be out walking dogs, seized the animals and hauled them to police.

“It was weird,” one patrolman later remarked. “I’d look at those people who brought us dogs, and all I could think of was that they were like puppies who wanted to be petted. Hell, we needed help. So we’d thank ’em, and it was just like telling ’em, ‘Go fetch me another one, boy!’ And they’d run off again.”

For the first hour, it was a little like a holiday—for everyone but dog owners. The police were determined, but somewhat embarrassed, and even they, like most other persons, couldn’t quite believe that Section 161.05 was actually being implemented.

At 12:40 the first serious incident occurred when Patrolmen Gerald O’Malley and Walter Ensley were attacked and severely beaten in the apartment of Joseph D’Agostino.

Then, with frightening quickness, an empty patrol car was firebombed on First Avenue and 23rd Street, and Bloody Tuesday’s first fatality was registered. Dorothy Birien, a sixty-seven-year-old widow and pensioner, fled with her pet mongrel to the basement of the building in which she lived on West 92nd Street. Four neighbors pursued her while a fifth went to summon police, who were knocking on her door on the sixth floor. The police descended to the basement in the elevator. As the car came to a stop its occupants were horrified to hear a piercing shriek, which ended abruptly. The officers leapt out when the door opened, and saw blood oozing from beneath the car. Mrs. Birien and her dog were both found crushed to death at the bottom of the shaft, where they had taken refuge.

Radio and television stations fed an uninterrupted stream of on-the-spot reports, half-truths and rumor to New Yorkers, but no one had any clear picture of what was actually happening. Although there is still no agreement as to where the ultimate blame for Bloody Tuesday should be placed—if indeed it can be placed at all—there is a consensus on the inflammatory role played by the news media. The early broadcasts were singularly dramatic and sometimes embellished by eager reporters. They appear to have been responsible for many hundreds of persons leaving their jobs to return home. Some went to protect their pets, others to support the police and the confiscation, and still others to make sure their families were indoors and safe. This infusion of frightened, tense, and angry persons only worsened the situation.

At 1:15a sniper opened fire from a rooftop on 109th Street, killing one auxiliary and one policeman, wounding a second policeman and an innocent bystander. The sniper disappeared several minutes before police reinforcements arrived. He was never identified, nor did he strike again.

At Grand Central Station a burly man snatched up a Seeing Eye dog and hurled it into the path of an incoming train, where it was killed. Many persons screamed, but there were also several cheers. Scuffling broke out. The blind owner of the dog was himself assaulted, and suffered bruises and lacerations.

Policemen, ASPCA auxiliaries, and National Guardsmen were set upon and beaten numerous times. Attacks against law officers spread from the target areas into other precincts.

By midafternoon bands of anti-dog people were roving the streets chanting “Ho! Ho! Ho! Dogs Must Go!” and waving American flags, and pennants which read: Do It for Mama! and Cities for Humans. Vigilante-like, they ran down dog walkers and appropriated the animals. These dogs were at first turned over to authorities, but before long this process was deemed unnecessarily time consuming. Arthur Feldman was jumped by such a band on Orchard Street. He was kicked and punched by several men when he tried to protect his Airedale. Then they pinned him to the sidewalk and, while he screamed, beat his dog to death with clubs. Similar incidents were reported with mounting frequency. A surprising number of dog owners were unaware of what was occurring, or simply didn’t believe it, and, until well into the early evening, they took their pets out for their customary strolls . . . only to be overtaken by horror.

Led by building residents, anti-dog forces invaded apartments, killed pets, and in many cases, swept up by the passions of their acts, went on to vandalize the apartments and inflict injuries upon the occupants. On Bank Street, four men who had been drinking through the afternoon broke in the door of Melinda Flemming, a receptionist. They flung Miss Flemming’s miniature poodle through the window, then gang-raped the girl. In the Pavilion, a luxury building on East 77th Street, a group of men forced entrance into the apartment of Aldous Merriwhether, an interior decorator who owned a brace of Afghans. They were greeted with a fusillade of shots from Merriwhether’s .357 Magnum revolver. Two were killed and two more wounded before Merriwhether fell dead, his skull split open by a crowbar.

Dog supporters formed their own patrols. They “liberated” caged animals, escorted dog walkers back to their apartments, and established sentry units around many buildings. On several occasions they came into violent confrontation with anti-dog groups, and fought with fists, feet, empty bottles, and clubs.

The ASPCA auxiliaries were supposed to have been men interested in seeing that dogs were taken into custody, and later treated, in a humane manner. Care had been taken to weed out volunteers whose motivation was to assist the city in ridding itself of dogs as quickly as possible. The auxiliary program failed utterly. As many as a third of the recruits were DIM supporters who had successfully masked their true sentiments. Dozens of auxiliaries abused and actually killed animals in their charge. Others were dog lovers who had planned from the start to sabotage the operation, and still more, essentially honest men, were horrified by the slaughter they saw and began releasing confiscated animals. Hundreds of dogs were set free on the streets, and they provided both factions with additional objects of contention.

Two false reports of catastrophic consequence were broadcast on most of the city’s radio stations between 8:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M. Announcers stressed that the information was unsubstantiated, but most New Yorkers, already inflamed and their critical faculties at a low, accepted them as fact. The first claimed that members of DOG had captured four policemen, lined them up against a wall and executed them. The second alleged that the Police Department, in retaliation, was moving its cars up and down the streets killing dogs and their owners with submachine gun and shotgun fire. There was no truth whatsoever to either report, but New Yorkers were spurred by them to actions that rocked the sensibilities of the nation.

On East 34th Street, John Hanck and his wife placed their collie in their car intending to drive the animal out of the city to safety. Hanck became hysterical when a large group of club-waving anti-dog people barred the intersection of 34th Street and 1st Avenue. He punched the accelerator to the floor and ran down three persons, one of whom was fatally injured. Police Sergeant Dennis Toombs killed Hanck with a single shot from his service revolver, and the car careened into a lamppost. The mob tore its doors open, stabbed the collie to death, and beat Mrs. Hanck severely before Sergeant Toombs could rescue her.

An unidentified woman who boarded the IND F train to Queens with her cocker spaniel was accosted by Transit patrolman George Halina, who, according to witnesses, gently informed her that it was against the law to bring dogs onto public transportation vehicles. The woman sank a bread knife into Halina’s heart. Although her dog was killed by incensed passengers, the woman escaped in the confusion.

Isman Silverberg, a tavern supplier from the Bronx, parked his delivery truck on Amsterdam Avenue near 96th Street and left his Doberman Pinscher on guard in the vehicle while he wheeled cartons of potato chips into the Red Hook Bar & Grill. Hearing gunshots, Silverberg ran outside and found his dog dead in the front seat. Armed men were marching up the streets shouting “Death to dogs!”

On Thompson Street, dog supporters dragged two Guardsmen from the cab of their truck, then opened the hood and ripped loose the distributor wires. They were driven off by a larger band of anti-dog people, who decided that since the dogs in the disabled vehicle could not be moved, it was better to destroy them rather than to risk having them set loose. They fired the truck, and 27 animals were burned to death in small wire cages.

Nine-year-old Magdalena Torres of Mott Street, the daughter of a plumber, filled a saucepan with sulfuric acid she had taken from her father’s kit, and hurled it into the face of Patrolman Anthony Corniel when the police attempted to remove the family’s pet mongrel. Corniel was permanently blinded.

A mob attacked DIM’s headquarters, seriously beat a watchman and the 12 staff members who were on duty, then went on a rampage causing an estimated $400,000 in damages to equipment and to the building itself.

A gang of juveniles, spurred by adults, ran through several buildings on West 83rd Street, bursting into apartments and flushing dogs into the halls. The frightened animals were driven up the stairs to the roofs, where gang members cornered them one by one and threw them over the parapets to their deaths on the concrete below. Fifteen-year-old Thomas Simmons was killed when an 80-pound Weimaraner sank its fangs into the boy’s arm and dragged the youth off the roof with it.

Helmuth Steinbraun, a psychoanalyst, nailed shut the doors and barricaded the ground floor windows of his West 88th Street brownstone. He threw pots of boiling water from the upper windows at policemen and civilians who tried to breach his defenses. After two officers had been badly scalded, reinforcements were summoned. The analyst and his family were finally driven from their home with tear gas. Their pet schnauzer, who ran out with them, was shot by an unknown civilian, and the brownstone was set afire.

Jim Buck’s Dogs, a kennel on Madison Avenue and 80th Street, was stormed by a mob. Buck, a hefty six-footer who breeds and trains dogs in addition to operating his kennel, met the invaders with a lead-weighted baseball bat in his hands and two attack-trained Great Danes at his side. The dogs bloodied half a dozen men before they were killed by blasts from a 12-gauge shotgun. Buck laid several more low and was then beaten unconscious. The group entered the kennels and the man carrying the shotgun, aided by another with a Luger, walked slowly up and down the ranks of caged animals and systematically shot to death 31 of the helpless creatures.

Several dogs—some formally attack-trained, others simply large and vicious animals—fought for the lives of other canines as well as their own. Rick Faller of East 26th Street, a construction worker, attack-trained his German shepherd, Turk, during July and August with the aid of a military manual. The massive dog took to his lessons avidly and by September 13 had metamorphosed into a nightmare beast eager to destroy anyone who approached within 15 feet of his master. “I made damn sure nobody was going to take him without a fight,” Faller said. Faller went out to see for himself what was happening on the streets the night of Bloody Tuesday. “It was sick! They were murderin’ defenseless animals right on my own block!” He called a friend who owned an attack-trained bull mastiff, then the two men and their snarling dogs undertook to patrol their immediate neighborhood. “We rescued six dogs,” Faller said proudly. “We drove off four bunches of them gutless bastards, maybe 60 guys all together. Turk chewed up a dozen by himself. He caught one guy in the leg and I heard the crunch when the guy’s kneecap went to pieces. I tell you. that’s one mother that’ll never walk right again!”

Philip Brouton, stockbroker, spent most of the night sitting in a chair which faced the door of his penthouse apartment on Lexington Avenue and 69th Street. A small marble table with a pot of coffee stood nearby. Brouton’s wife was in the bedroom moaning; not even the triple dose of Seconal she had taken was able to quiet her anguished mind. The Brouton’s Yorkshire terrier whimpered on the pillow next to her, and occasionally licked her face. Brouton, who had never in his life committed an act more hostile than tongue-lashing a rude cabdriver, was holding a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun. In a choked voice he said: “I don’t care if it’s a Black Panther or the Commissioner of Police. I’ll blow anybody’s head off who comes to take away our Pericles!”

Patrolman David Ottley, twenty-one years old and a member of the force for less than six months, went berserk when he witnessed one member of a gang tear a dog from a woman’s arms and begin swinging the animal by its hind legs against the pavement. The young officer emptied his revolver into the group, killing two and wounding another, then attacked them with his nightstick. He was subdued by other police, and rushed to Bellevue where he was put under restraint and held for observation.

Riot squads were summoned to the Sheep Meadow and four times had to lay down heavy barrages of tear gas and nausea gas to repulse large numbers of persons who rushed the staging compound attempting to free the dogs there.

More than 1,500 dogs actually were taken to the Bronx and Queens holding depots. Violence occurred there, too, as an estimated 2,000 persons from neighboring communities and states converged to “rescue” the abandoned canines. Many bereft owners also appeared, intent on reclaiming their pets before they could be placed with adoptive families or put to sleep. Traffic blocked several streets and thoroughfares for hours; nearly 200 dogs were loosed from their cages by saboteurs; and pro-dog and anti-dog forces battled each other, as did ex-owners and out-of-towners who had come to adopt animals.

Violence did not abate in Manhattan until the small hours of the morning. Occasional screams and gunshots were still being heard when dawn, as if in sympathy, broke in a crimson flood over the wounded and bleeding city.

Many officials, particularly Mayor Spinelli, were harshly criticized for not having ordered an immediate stay of Section 161.05 and clapping a curfew on Manhattan as soon as the direction of the day became evident. James Carlson, an aide to the mayor, testified that Spinelli had been urged to do so several times, but that he had refused, allegedly saying: “I don’t give a damn if they destroy half the island. The law is the law, and they’re going to comply if I have to send tanks down Fifth Avenue.” Carlson was promptly dismissed. Spinelli denied the charge and accused the ex-aide of attempting a political smear. In an official release, the mayor stated: “Our fair city will bear the scars of this tragic day for generations to come. We must each of us look into our hearts to determine the extent of our own personal responsibility and guilt, and we must resolve to a man that nothing like this shall ever occur in this city again. The consequence of disobeying the mandates of legally constituted authority and taking the law into our own hands can only lead, inevitably, to catastrophe.” A movement to impeach Spinelli flourished briefly, but it soon lost its momentum; the mayor’s attorneys are still considering legal action against Carlson.

Whatever the case, the City Council finally did convene in emergency session at 9:00 A.M. on Wednesday morning. With few preliminary words, they voted unanimously to retire Section 161.05 for an indefinite period of time. Their action was immediately endorsed by the mayor. Every local television and radio station was broadcasting the news by 9:45.

Spinelli appointed a blue-ribbon committee to investigate and report on the occurrences of Bloody Tuesday. Chaired by Clayton J. Brodie III, president of Chase Manhattan Bank, the committee has taken the testimony of more than 400 witnesses to date. One member, who wished to remain anonymous, told this reporter: “It is going to be a three-pound document not worth the paper it’s printed on; a thousand people explaining in great detail the errors and crimes everyone else committed.”

Sociologist Henry Wade Williams of Columbia University insists it was simply typical mass behavior. “Riots are as old as towns and cities,” Williams said. “We’ve always had them, we always will. There was nothing unique about this one. Its basic patterns were entirely consistent with the classic examples of mob behavior.”

Philosopher James R. Madden of the same university said: “New York is a seething hell of hate and despair. It is a knife that flays each of us daily, reducing us to raw, quivering nerve ends. Such a witch’s caldron of agony, terror and rage can’t help but to boil over sooner or later. I’m only surprised that it wasn’t much worse.”

Psychiatrist Elliot Frankel of the New York City Psychoanalytic Association said, “It was a projective response. Dogs are fawning, will-less creatures who are at the mercy of the whims of their masters. The average man in our society feels precisely the same way. By destroying dogs, these people were actually attempting to destroy those qualities they find so hateful in themselves.”

The most unusual interpretation was offered by Dr. Karl Droter, director of the Institute for the Development of Human Potential: “As strange as it may sound, Bloody Tuesday was a positive rather than a negative event, vastly more constructive than destructive. In a sense, it was sacramental. For years we have been a divided people, isolated, singular, awesomely lonely creatures desperately needful of connecting with our fellows, of coming together in mutually succoring and enriching harmony. There were admittedly two ‘sides’ involved, but what is important is that within each of these ‘sides’—widely disparate groups such as the poor and the rich, the radical and the conservative, white and black—set aside their differences and bonded together for one glorious day in mutual love and camaraderie. Bloody Tuesday was in fact an agape!”

Dr. Paul Ehrlich, population biologist, explained: “Every experiment of record demonstrates conclusively that creatures forced to crowd too close together—even such docile examples as rabbits—will eventually disintegrate and turn in fury upon each other. American cities are intolerably overcrowded, and New York, especially Manhattan, is the worst. We simply must give ourselves more room if we are to have any hope of saving what remains of our sanity.”

Committees and learned speculation are all well and good, but the dogs are still here, and so are the passions of those who love them and those who hate them.

A survey conducted by this magazine last week reveals that the city’s locksmiths are working 16 and 17 hours per day installing steel doors, iron window-grills, and the heaviest dead bolts and bar locks that can be purchased. Construction firms are supplying citizens with sandbags at the rate of 350 per day. Sporting-goods stores and Army and Navy Surplus outlets report gun sales that have averaged triple to quadruple the normal rate for the last five weeks. Dog schools specializing in attack work are, for sheer lack of space and manpower, turning away large numbers of prospective customers each day. DIM boasts 75,000 new members. DOG’s membership has doubled.

No one in New York wants to see a recurrence of Bloody Tuesday. Mention the idea, and people recoil from you in horror. But everyone is preparing for it.

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