ANIMAL PEOPLE
- December 1994 - Volume III, #10

Court CalendarHumane enforcement High school principal and biology teacher Jerry Slyker and his wife Paula, of Hardin, Montana, obtained five cats through free-to-good-home ads in October, gassed them in a box with car exhaust, and had students dissect the remains--including at home gatherings where they were boiled down to bones. After giving Paula Slyker her 7-year-old daughter's cat because the cat wasn't box-trained, Billings Gazette reporter read of the exercises in the paper and uncovered the deceit by confronting the Slykers. Hardin Schools Superintendent Rod Svee said Slyker wouldn't be disciplined because he hadn't violated any board policy. Dave Pauli, regional director for the Humane Society of the U.S., has asked state superintendent of schools Nancy Keenan to "ask for the immediate dismissal of Mr. Slyker on the basis of unethical, fraudulent, and potentially illegal behavior." Friends of Animals asks that letters requesting prosecution of Slyker for cruelty and pet theft via fraud be addressed to Christine Cooke, Big Horn County Attorney, 121 West 3rd St., Hardin, MT 59034; or fax 406-665-1608.

The Los Angeles SPCA probably won't be able to prosecute missing Ocicat breeder Judith Norman, 50, for allowing 28 of the ocelot-like housecats to starve to death, says executive director Madeleine Bernstein, even if they find her, because volunteer rescuers who saved four survivors disturbed critical evidence by removing carcasses and "knee-deep cat manure." The cats were discovered in Norman's Lawndale apartment about five weeks after she apparently moved without notice--but a rent check was received three weeks after that. The survivors are being care for by the rescue group People and Cats Together. Off-site building manager Mae-Dell Lacey donated $500 to help cover their veterinary bills.

Vikki Kittles, delaying prosecution on 42 counts of animal neglect through various means since April 1993, has been extradited back to Clatsop County, Washington. District judge Berkeley Smith has given county animal control director Tommie Brunick the okay to place 115 dogs and four cats seized from Kittles in foster homes, but finding homes has been slow because of the animals' special needs and Kittles' reputation for harassing anyone involved with the case. Kittles, with a coast-to-coast history of animal-collecting behavior, is also the only suspect in the disappearance several years ago of her elderly mother, who was last seen living in a van Kittles owned in Florida. Kittles chained a number of large, aggressive dogs around the van.

Santos Rodrieguez, 32, of Plainfield, New Jersey, was charged October 26 with assault, cruelty to children, cruelty to animals, and harassment for decapitating a kitten and throwing the head at the three children of his former girlfriend, ages 9, 11, and 13, with whom he lived. Although prosecutions are so far rare, anti-stalking laws adopted during the past few years by at least forty-five states permit prosecutions of cruelty to animals as an offense against human beings--with stiffer penalties--if the apparent intent is to intimidate or threaten.

Hindi sues DuPage Chicago Animal Rights Coalition founder Steve Hindi on November 3 sued DuPage County States Attorney James Ryan and the DuPage County Forest Preserve for alleged false arrest after a protest against a population control deer roundup and slaughter on February 1, 1993. Hindi was cleared of all charges after fellow CHARC member Mike Durschmid admitted he and not Hindi had been trespassing in the forest preserve, trying to retrieve video equipment CHARC used in an attempt to document the slaughter. Hindi is seeking $550,000 in punitive and compensatory damages.Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund U.S. District Judge Helen Frye on November 2 awarded Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund attorneys Victor Sher and Mike Axline over $1 million in fees, at $205 an hour, for the time they spent in successfully suing the Bureau of Land Management for failing to protect threatened spotted owls. Sher and Axline won their case, after a six-year battle, last January. Earlier they won $760,000 in fees from the U.S. Forest Service. The awards were made under the federal Equal Access to Justice Act. Since Sher and Axline are paid by the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, the SCLDF will actually collect the money.

In another Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund action, the U.S. Forest Service agreed November 7 to study the impact of grazing in the Sierra National Forest, settling a lawsuit filed last February by SCLDF on behalf of California Trout, the California Native Plant Society, and American Wildlands, who charged that overgrazing has severely damaged the habitat.