From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2004:
On January 5, the first regular business day of 2004, New
York City Center for Animal Care and Control director Ed Boks and
actress-turned-animal advocate Bernadette Peters tried to make pit
bull terriers more adoptable by announcing that henceforth they would
be offered for adoption as “New Yorkies.”
The scheme lasted less than three days.
Having worked long and hard to rehabilitate the image of New
York City, the tourist industry wanted no part of any potential
association with gangs, drugs, and hostile behavior.
“I think it would create a bad image for New Yorkers,” public
relations executive Howard Rubenstein told Heidi Singer of the New
York Daily News. “Our bark is worse than our bite. With pit bulls,
their bite is worse than their bark.”
Representing media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, casino baron
Donald Trump, hotelier Leona Helmsley, and New York Yankees owner
George Steinbrenner, among others, Rubenstein, 67, is among the
acknowledged New York City power brokers. When Rubenstein speaks,
City Hall listens.
Animal shelter experts around the U.S., called for comment,
remembered the 1996 attempt by the San Francisco SPCA to re-invent
pit bulls by calling them “St. Francis terriers.”