Friday, July 27, 2007

Who Killed San Francisco's Coyotes? Carl Friedman, SFSPCA, and SFDOG, That's Who!! - San Francisco's Dog Blog

We here at San Francisco's Dog Blog, along with many San Franciscans, were shocked and horrified that two coyotes were killed by our government. But unlike some observers, we aren't content to simply decry the slaughter: we want to prevent another immoral killing of wildlife in our city, and to do so we must determine the root cause of the killings. There are several persons and groups who share the blame for these tragedies, and the root causes are really no surprise--at least to those who follow the protection of San Francisco's animals closely.

Carl Friedman Killed San Francisco's Coyotes.

So who killed San Francisco's Coyotes? San Francisco Animal Care and Control (ACC) director Carl Friedman blames the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, which is the agency that actually shot the coyotes. Although Mr. Friedman made the call that ultimately led to the guns-blazing response to the coyotes presence, Mr. Friedman says he had no idea that the call would result in the coyote slaughter, and now declines to endorse it. But is Mr. Friedman's not-guilty plea plausible?

Only if you believe that Mr. Friedman is institutionally incompetent and ignorant of common practices in animal care and control--and although we here at San Francisco's Dog Blog are highly critical of Mr. Friedman's purposeful anti-wildlife activities, we have never found him to be uninformed (which of course makes him that-much-more culpable for what he does). The extensive literature on Wildlife Services within the animal welfare and control community explodes with outrage over the agency's brutality and predilection for slaughter, and it is simply not plausible that Mr. Friedman--a man who has run an animal control agency for decades--had no idea that his call would lead to the death of the coyotes. After all, destroying wildlife is what they do.

So if ignorance is no defense, why did Mr. Friedman make the call that killed the coyotes? Because Carl Friedman and the agency he runs is so singularly consumed with its domestic animal agenda--a political agenda, we might add--that, as we've explained here countless times, he has completely forsaken his duty to protect and care for San Francisco's wild animals.

Up to this point, Mr. Friedman's callous temperament towards wildlife has been most evident on issues where domestic animals impinge on the ability of wildlife to survive in our city (off-leash dogs harassing birds, feral cats killing birds and infecting sea otters, etc.) As editors who love our dogs as if they were our own flesh and blood, we could at least conceptually understand the moral quandary these issues might put a man of Mr. Friedman's position in, if not agree with his actions.

But the knee-jerk killing of these coyotes explodes any myth that Mr. Friedman is a man torn between competing animal causes, and shows instead that he maintains a perverse relationship with the wild, maintaining a vendetta against those who he cannot domesticate and control. Remember, this is the same man who brought us the innovation of Dog Court, ensuring that even dogs that maul a person in San Francisco receive some due process before they are muzzled or euthanized. Yet for wildlife he shows no such compassion or commitment to process: he pushed the domino that any competent animal control officer knows will inevitably lead to acute lead poisoning of wildlife.

Mr. Friedman's relationship with nature is better suited for the 19th Century, as he consistently uses 19th Century tactics to deal with wildlife. It is a deadly, morally bankrupt choice for a man with 21st Century power and responsibilities.

SFSPCA Killed San Francisco's Coyotes.

The San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to [domestic] Animals (SFSPCA) is another group that shares blame for the killings. How is that, you might ask? Because the SFSPCA runs a program promoting feral cat hoarding on public lands, which in turn leads to wild animals being indirectly fed by individuals who would be arrested if they conducted this behavior in their homes.

Of course we are talking about the SFSPCA's trap-neuter-return (TNR) program for feral cats. Now we here at San Francisco's Dog Blog are all for reducing the number of feral cats in San Francisco by the most humane method possible, not only because we are pro-wildlife, but also because feral cats lead lives of unimaginable hardship. The problem with the SFSPCA's program is that it isn't designed with the goal of reducing the feral cat population to zero, but sustaining the population so that its mentally-deranged volunteers--and animal hoarding is a mental disease--can continue hoarding animals on public property in perpetuity.

How can we make such bold claims? Because in order for a TNR program to succeed, two things must occur: (1) an exceptionally high percentage of the entire feral cat population--not just animals associated with an individual colony--must be trapped and neutered before populations can stabilize, let alone decline, because cats, of course, breed like cats; and (2) food subsides must be eliminated. The SFSPCA has absolutely no evidence that it is capturing enough cats to make the program effective: as famously made clear before the Animal Welfare and Control Commission last year, The SFSPCA keeps no data on a population level, and only looks at colonies, which are known to be transient, to try and promote the program's effectiveness. But moreover, it is a central tenet of the program that the cat-hoarding volunteers feed the cats by leaving food out for the animals in our parks, increasing the feral cats' carrying capacity and ensuring the population's growth.

And more pertinently to this post, the food that is left out is also eaten by wild animals. Opossums, skunks, and yes, coyotes eat the food left out by animal hoarders participating in this failed program, eliminating their wildness and bringing these animals closer to the dangerous end of a Wildlife Services' rifle. Even Captain Vicki Guldbech of ACC recognized this, stating in the Chronicle last year that "[i]f people leave out dog and cat food, [the coyotes] will keep eating it and they will not hunt."

The SFSPCA, by consistently ignoring scientific evidence on TNR programs and promoting the feeding of wild animals through its failed TNR program helped kill these coyotes, and the group should be held responsible.

SF DOG Killed San Francisco's Coyotes.

Last, but not least, San Francisco DOG killed San Francisco's coyotes. How is that, you ask? An answer to this question can be found in a close examination of the last acts of these coyotes in Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco contains an exceptionally large number of safe, legal off-leash dog parks: at least 28, and in a city that is only seven square miles, that gives San Francisco the highest density of dog parks of any city in the Nation, probably the world. San Francisco has more off-leash dog parks than Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento, and Los Angeles COMBINED.

Yet anti-leash groups like SF DOG aren't satisfied. They continue to claim that there is not enough space for off-leash dogs to roam in San Francisco, despite the evidence. Indeed, on July 26, Sally Stephens, the self-appointed leader of the anti-leash organization, sent an e-mail missive demanding even more off-leash areas in San Francisco's parks, and attacking San Francisco's award-winning and progressive Natural Areas Program because it doesn't adhere to her anti-leash philosophy.

So SF DOG advocates disobedience of the leash law everywhere in San Francisco. Which is precisely what this woman who claims her Rhodesian ridgeback was attacked by coyotes was doing, walking her dog off-leash in a portion of Golden Gate Park where off-leash dogs aren't allowed.

But you read that the dogs were on-leash, didn't you? Of course you did: any person caught in such a situation must say so to the authorities in order to avoid a substantial fine. But for those who frequent this area, they know that the woman is lying: she walks her dogs regularly off-leash in these areas, often to the consternation of other dog-owners, and the odds are long that the one day her dog interacts with a coyote it was on-leash. Even her own alibi indicates that her dog was off-leash: there is no way a dog on-leash can run "12-feet" from its owner towards a dangerous situation, even on a flexi-leash, before being recalled. Moreover, there is no way that a coyote, a relatively small animal, would attack two Rhodesian ridgebacks leashed to a human. It simply doesn't happen like that.

If SF DOG weren't so single minded, it would stop its anti-leash agenda and work for the betterment of all animals. By promoting an ideology where flouting leash laws is OK, SF DOG bears responsibility for the demise of these coyotes.

Carl Friedman. SFSPCA. SF DOG. These three entities have been the source of much mischief for our dogs and their wild cousins. It is time for reform. It may be too late for these coyotes, but we can still honor their memory by changing the way this cabal does business in the City of St. Francis.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just discovered this blog, and I'm interested in reading it occasionally. It's great to see a dog owner who _isn't_ constantly complaining about there not being enough off-leash dog areas, or justifying the bad behavior of themselves or their dogs. But it seems that the blog is no longer active. Is that right? Or did you just move it somewhere?