What’s with the guns?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1995:

LOS ANGELES––A series of exposes of alleged
misconduct by California humane officers by Josh Meyer
of the Los Angeles Times is bringing calls for reform of the
system of appointing officers, but Barbara Fabricant of
the Humane Task Force, a target of the series, claims
Meyer almost completely inverted her position on one of
the central issues, the right to bear sidearms. Belatedly
responding to ANIMAL PEOPLE’s request for comment
on Meyer’s story, published in November, Fabricant
explained that she’d been so shocked and embarrassed at
her depiction as a gun-toting vigilante that she didn’t even
want to face her friends for some weeks. The full-page
article, illustrated with a photo of Fabricant in full uni-
form, six-gun at her hip, recorded her many clashes with
other humane organizations, and made much of her admit-
tedly colorful background, but failed to acknowledge that
she wore the gun and uniform only at the request of Meyer
and his photographer.

“Guns and uniforms get in the way when you’re
talking to people about their pets,” Fabricant told A N I-
MAL PEOPLE. “I almost never wear my uniform when
I’m out answering calls. I don’t approach people as an
authority; I approach as someone who’s concerned about
an animal. Most of the problems we see are due to igno-
rance, and with a little patience they can be corrected. I
don’t believe in guns,” Fabricant continued. “I don’t like
guns. I support a bill to take guns away from all humane
officers and cruelty officers.”
Fabricant believes guns are inappropriate even as
a means of administering emergency euthanasia to large
animals––police in her area once shot a runaway cow more
than 40 times before dropping her.
Further, she said, “if a humane officer may meet
violence somewhere, he or she should be able to get a
police backup.” Fabricant admitted having had trouble in
the past with people, “particularly attorneys,” whom she
said volunteered to serve as her deputies just so they could
qualify to carry guns, “and then I never heard from them
again.” However, she said, “If I find out now that one of
my officers is even looking at a gun, I have him decerti-
fied, immediately. We don’t need that kind of attitude.”
Meyer did quote Fabricant as saying, “Take
away the right to carry a gun and you will eliminate 90%
of the phonies. And then only people who want to help
animals will be humane officers.”
Mercy Crusade arsenal
James McCourt, president of Mercy Crusade,
was less forthcoming after Meyer on January 17 revealed
that even as the group donated $20,000 last year to the Los
Angeles County neutering program, it was spending
$100,000 to acquire an arsenal of 34 soon-to-be-banned
assault rifles, automatic pistols, and other weapons, some
of which were seized last June by the federal Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The acquisitions were
sufficiently unusual that the bureau was contacted by some
of the gun dealers––who were apparently concerned that
McCourt intended to resell them. Asked by Meyer if that
was his intention, McCourt reportedly snapped, “I wasn’t
aware that capitalism had been outlawed in this country.
McCourt, a Pepperdine University economics
professor, has long been known as a gun enthusiast among
other Los Angeles-area animal rescuers. According to
Meyer, McCourt said Mercy Crusade needed the firepow-
er to protect animal shelters from rioters and to earn Mercy
Crusade officers the respect of other law enforcement
agencies. Although Mercy Crusade claimed to have guard-
ed Los Angeles-area shelters during the 1992 riots, ANI-
MAL PEOPLE was unable to locate any shelter which
had been so guarded, and was told by personnel of one
shelter that was in the heart of the riot zone that the rioters
had made a point of avoiding doing anything that might
harm the animals. State authorities are reportedly now
inquiring into whether donated funds were improperly used
for the weapons purchases.
Mercy Crusade, founded circa 1957 and now
claiming assets of $2.3 million, is best known for having
opened the first open-access, public-operated low-cost
neutering clinic in the U.S., in 1971. The clinic became
the model for a string of community low-cost neutering
facilities throughout the Los Angeles area. For 20 years,
beginning in 1967, Mercy Crusade was personified by vol-
unteer lobbyist Loma H. Davis, who died of a heart attack
in October 1987, at age 47. While Davis was eulogized
for her ability to make friends, a more confrontational
character emerged with the appointment of Lynnne Exe, a
former Mercy Crusader, as a member of the Los Angeles
Animal Regulation Commission. A series of clashes with
other commissioners and activist groups during which
McCourt was her most prominent ally boiled over in
December 1993, when due to complaints about inadequate
adoption screening, the commission cancelled a 36-year-
old Christmas adoption program, under which the county
shelters lowered their adoption fee to $10 and Mercy
Crusade covered the vaccination and neutering fees. Five
months of recriminations later, Exe resigned from the
commission, telling mayor Richard Riordan that the other
members and the Animal Regulation Department had “lost
their moral compass” not only for cancelling the adoption
program but also for halting coyote trapping and deciding
to cooperate with people using neuter/release to control the
growth of feral catcolonies.
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