December 22, 2005
Who Let the Dogs Out?

By Debra Saunders

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa never should have promised that he would fire L.A. Department of Animal Services head Guerdon Stuckey when he was running for mayor.

Why? Because, when Villaraigosa fired Stuckey last week, he rewarded the violent tactics of the Animal Defense League and anonymous animal-rights activists who oppose city shelters euthanizing unwanted animals.

I, too, would like to see all city animal shelters adopt the no-kill policies supported by pet lovers. But I understand that shelters don't euthanize dogs and cats for kicks. They are overwhelmed with unwanted animals. The culprits are people who don't spay, neuter or take loving care of their pets -- not those who work in shelters.

Even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals kills animals in its shelter. In fact, PETA's 2003 rate for euthanizing animals was more than 85 percent. That's worse than Los Angeles, which is expected to euthanize half its animal population this year -- according to the Los Angeles Daily News. As Rafael Pizarro of the union that represents Los Angeles shelter workers noted, putting animals down is devastating for those who must do it.

No wonder, then, that 149 Animal Service employees -- about half of the department -- sent a letter to Villaraigosa protesting Stuckey's dismissal. "The terrorists will never be satisfied," they wrote. "They will never go away. It is time you stand up to them."

Anonymous activists have been harassing L.A. animal workers for some time. They planted a smoke bomb in the building where former Animal Services Director Stuckey lived. The car of Stuckey's predecessor, Jerry Greenwalt, was spray-painted with the word "murderer."

Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo recently filed charges against the Animal Defense League for a two-year campaign of harassment against department manager David Diliberto. ADL leaders reportedly gave out Diliberto's address and announced to their followers "action alerts" -- which entailed pounding on the door of his home at night, shouting at his four children, threatening his wife ... they even posted online the address of a neighbor who complained. There was a bomb threat. In August, two people dressed as mortuary workers showed up at his home to pick up a dead body. A false report of gunshots brought three squad cars and a police helicopter to the Diliberto home.

Angeleno author Joel Kotkin figures Villaraigosa made "a promise which I'm sure he's sorry he made."

The mayor's spokesman, Joe Ramallo, argued that Villaraigosa did not cave in to animal-rights extremists, but instead that Villaraigosa tried to work with Stuckey but "this guy was not up to the job." (Los Angeles Daily News writer Rick Orlov reported that Stuckey had no animal experience when he took the job and "he didn't even have a pet.") With Villaraigosa's support of the criminal charges, Ramallo added, his boss is "doing something that upsets both sides."

Sorry, but I have to agree with David Martosko of the Center for Consumer Freedom, who observed that when you give in to terrorists, "you're just asking for more trouble." The mayor's spokesman told me that Villaraigosa will stand by Stuckey's replacement, Ed Boks, if the rat-huggers attack him.

Except Boks speaks their weird language. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Boks said of the extremists' aggression: "Usually it erupts into what you call radicalism when people feel they haven't been listened to."

What you call radicalism? Try: threatening families, scaring children and destroying other people's property. Not listened to? ADL spokesman Jerry Vlasak recently appeared before the Senate and on "60 Minutes" justifying the murder of medical researchers who use lab animals.

When radicals of any stripe -- anti-abortion, anti-trade or anti-shelter -- get what they want after resorting to harassment and intimidation, know that other extremists are paying attention. That's why you don't reward them. Ever.

Copyright 2005 Creators Syndicate

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