The other day, in broad daylight, two pit-bull mix dogs attacked several passersby in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Police suspect that the dogs belonged to homeless people who live in the park. One of the dogs was shot in an effort to subdue it. No one has come forward to claim the dogs, and it is likely that both will be destroyed.
How is it that we have come to this? I have seen homeless people sleeping in the walkways of Golden Gate Park. It is supposedly illegal to do so, but nonetheless, it happens. It is not a safe environment for humans or dogs to sleep in the park. Drug use is rampant. (By the way, tobacco smoking is illegal in Golden Gate Park. It is assumed that shooting hard drugs is not.)
I am not unsympathetic to the plight of the homeless. My wife suggests that they may keep the dogs in order to protect themselves. San Francisco has this odd attitude toward the problem. There has been homeless encampments, tent cities in view of city hall. The mayor, Gavin Newsome, who is running for Lt. Governor, seems at a loss on how to deal with the problem. To be fair, his predecessors hadn't an answer for the problem either. But living in the park is not a solution.
When I was younger, and I lived in San Francisco, I used to walk or jog across the park at night in order to get home. We had several buses and streetcars that served the area around the park. Late at night one bus ran on one side of the park, and the streetcar ran on my side. If I tired of waiting for the streetcar, I might take the bus, and just walk across the park to my side and home. Now daylight use of Golden Gate Park can be dicey. How is that serving the people of San Francisco or the homeless?
Have we given up?
Some years back, San Francisco bragged about their new public toilets in the style of Paris. There was serious discussion about giving free passes to the homeless to use these toilets. So far so good right? We don't want the homeless defecating and urinating in the streets. But also the City of St. Francis was taking into account the use of those toilet facilities for shooting hard drugs. Another San Francisco debate centered around "drug zones" where shooting up would be tolerated. The rationale was that it would be easier to provide clean needles in such zones. Heaven help us.
Many of you know I am concerned about the adoption of "homeless" pets. I am not without empathy for my fellow humans. But the so-called enlightened attitudes toward homelessness serves no one. Not the homeless, nor their dogs, nor the public. Homeless encampments solve nothing. Sleeping in the park endangers the general public and the homeless. It is much easier for city managers to wash their hands of the homeless by pretending to care with an attitude of excessive toleration. Perhaps the word offends us. Toleration. But the attitude serves no one.