The Italian Almanac

Italian bloodhound

Italian Dogs Wanted

A northern Italian deputy mayor who once called for the ethnic cleansing of homosexuals in his city launched a new crusade against non-local dogs. ''We don't want foreign breeds here,'' said Treviso Deputy Mayor Giancarlo Gentilini, a member of the right-wing Northern League party. In an address to the dog handling unit of local forestry police a week after the government announced a crackdown on illegal immigration, Gentilini said he wanted to see a return to the traditional farm dogs who used to follow their masters to the fields and were part of Treviso's ancestry.

''Today I ask for an improvement in quality: man's best friends should be the dogs and breeds that our forefathers had,'' he said. But vets and breeders at the address were quick to point out that Gentilini's idea of a pure-blood Treviso puppy was a pipe dream. ''Dogs are always crosses between breeds that come from different geographic areas,'' said vet Fabio Fattori. ''It's difficult enough to find a (pure) Italian breed of dog, let alone one from the Veneto or from Treviso itself''. Local breeder Guido Pontello also scotched Gentilini's canine plan, saying: ''At best, the only possibility is a national breed like the English setter or the Italian bloodhound. You can't get more specific than that''.

Gentilini has courted polemics in the past with his stances against immigrants and homosexuals. In August he vented his wrath against homosexuals who were using a Treviso city car park for sex trysts, saying he would order traffic police to carry out ''ethnic cleansing'' against the men. ''They can move to other cities in the region that are willing to have them, but here in Treviso, there's no place for such faggots,'' he said at the time.