To the editor: As a Berkshire Eagle subscriber, I was extremely disturbed by your recent article about Berkshire Poodles and its proprietor, Lee Kohlenberger. ("Celebrated Berkshires poodle breeder works to resolve customer complaints after finding himself ‘spread too thin,'" Eagle, Sept. 16.)

We own two phenomenal Berkshire poodles and we have been tremendously impressed by Lee’s professionalism. Furthermore, when Lee met our developmentally challenged daughter, he selected her to adopt Laurelei, one of his breeding dogs in retirement, resulting in a truly life-changing impact on our daughter. Lee is a compassionate member of our community, as evidenced by his history as a Pittsfield firefighter, fundraising organizer and founder of nonprofit organization Berkshire Comfort Dogs, which donates poodles to schools and community institutions.

The Berkshire Eagle missed the opportunity to develop an empathic human-interest story about a “celebrated Berkshires poodle breeder” who, in the height of a global pandemic, opened a business to provide full scale services for dogs. With high overhead and little revenue, Lee overextended himself into deep pandemic debt, as was sadly the case for many well-intentioned members of our community, No one is debating the legal rights of angry consumers, and Lee is doing the best he can to make these customers whole. However, this article reads like a slander crusade determined to discredit a respected fellow citizen who successfully ran a breeding business since 2012.

Conscientious investigative journalism researches all points of view and interviews people on both sides of an issue. Rather than elaborating upon the Kohlenbergers’ story of hardship, however, your article casts him as a common criminal, highlighting the claims of a few unsatisfied customers. Notably missing were accounts from any of the 500 satisfied customers who can attest to Lee’s integrity, honesty and commitment to his poodle-breeding business.

This article’s timing and cover page placement could not have been more callous. The past three months have been excruciating for the Kohlenbergers. In addition to financial hardship, a catastrophic house fire destroyed all their possessions. Four of their poodles perished in the fire. Three of these poodles were prized breeding dogs. It is unimaginable that a local paper would do a cover story that could threaten the emotional and financial well-being of this deeply wounded family, all because a handful of customers were dissatisfied. I am gravely disappointed that your newspaper did not use this opportunity to exhibit balanced journalistic values, model community compassion for fellow neighbors and enhance sensitivity to life adversity during these unprecedented times.

Nancy Belsky, Lenox