The Los Angeles Jungle

Protest! Smoke bombs! Euthanasia videos! Resistance to L.A. Animal Services chief Guerdon Stuckey has inspired a citywide discussion of what it means to be an activist, and thrown the department into disarray
A year is a long time in city politics, where whole careers can flash by in only a couple of years. So, it's hard to figure why Guerdon Stuckey is still stuck in a tight spot with the humane community. Even the people who felt he could turn things around when he first took the job are now shaking their heads. If anything, his conflict with animal advocates has gotten worse. A lot of animal folks who didn't originally oppose Stuckey's 2004 appointment as general manager of Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS) by former Mayor James Hahn have joined the other side. If there was ever a moment for Stuckey to win over his critics, it appears to have passed.

"I saw him the other night at the Singita event," said wildlife rescuer Mary Cummins, founder of volunteer group Animal Advocates. "He went up to the ticket table looking for a ticket. They didn't have one for him. I got a free ticket, others did, but it was a fundraiser so, of course, some had to pay. He had to pay. He then walked around, and no one spoke to him. I walked over and introduced him to Leon Seidman of Cosmic Pet Products."

Singita is a charity created to establish a feral-cat sanctuary outside the city.
Worse, these critics wanted to know what happened to the campaign promise of Antonio Villaraigosa himself, who insisted, "When I am mayor, [Guerdon] Stuckey will not be head of Animal Services."

Over the last few months, the mayor threw that question back to L.A.'s animal-advocacy community. As pickets at city officials' homes grew more contentious, and smoke bombs wafted through Stuckey's house, Villaraigosa felt liberated from any campaign promises. Even though the illegal smoke bombs were claimed by the underground network Animal Liberation Front (ALF), and had no connection whatsoever to legal humane-community activists, the mayor said he wasn't going to be "bullied" into firing anyone.

Instead, it became open season on activism. A commissioner was fired and said two others would be next, allegedly for being animal "advocates." A shelter doctor was fired for similar reasons, without the mayor's knowledge.
Of course, you can't be ADLLA founder Pam Ferdin if you're worried about alienating people. She has a bullhorn, picket signs that say "puppy killer," and a high tolerance for legally disturbing the bureaucratic peace.

The ADLLA people are very thick-skinned: At a demonstration on the block of LAAS Commander David Diliberto, neighbors called Ferdin "cunt" and "bitch" and squirted the protesters with garden hoses. At the home of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 347 leader Julie Butcher, her son chased protesters with a golf club. "I did secretly think it an appropriate response," Butcher wrote in an e-mail to SEIU members.
But it must be reiterated at least once each article that the ADLLA is not the Animal Liberation Front. It doesn't smoke-bomb or send "suspicious devices." And if the city council or even the mayor's staff is still under the impression that targeting ADLLA will effectively separate it from the moderates, no way it's happening now. The department's a mess, ADLLA says, and a whole lot of moderates now want Stuckey out.

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