Animal Writes
27 December 1998 Issue
The Pet Theft Cover-Up Organized crime sanctioned by the USDA

Chris DeRose, President
Last Chance for Animals

Can it really be true that stolen dogs and cats are used for scientific experimentation? The United States Congress knew it was true when they passed major legislation to combat it in 1966--but they failed. Congress still knew it was true when they passed ammendments as recently as 1990 to combat pet theft for experimentation--again they failed. The researchers know it is true, but they claim it is not their fault. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) knows it is true, but cannot or will not create and enforce regulations to stop it.

"Our goverment encourages pet theft through the USDA's animal dealer licensing system. Our tax dollars pay for pet theft by funding facilities that experiment on companion animals. Stolen pets have been recovered from laboratories and medical facilities. Pet theft has become a national scandal."

Pet peddlers prey on people who can no longer keep their pets. Desperate owners listen to promises of good and loving homes. The promises are not kept. Instead your pets' fate is a laboratory or medical facility where they die painful and lonely deaths.

Every year hundreds of thousands of companion animals are stolen or obtained fraudulently by people answering "Free to Good Home" ads in newspapers. Our pets are stolen by "B" dealers and "bunchers" who are licensed by the USDA to deal in "random source" animals. The licensing of "B" dealers by the USDA opens the door for the extensive illegal activity that LCA has been waging war against for years. It encourages pet theft for profit.

The biomedical community's desire for companion type animals continues. The Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Interior, and Transportation, as well as university medical schools, hospitals, and Veterans Administration, all participate in pet theft when they buy animals from "B" dealers. Even with repeated violations, dealers are rarely cited.

Write: Your Senator and Congressional Representative in Washington.

Also write to: Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
14th St. and Independence Ave. S.W.
Washington D.C. 20250.

Demand the abolition of the Class B dealer's license and an end to random source animal use in experimentation.

On August 9, 1991, nearly four years after being discovered by LCA, USDA "B" dealers Barbara Ruggiero and Frederick Spero and "buncher" Ralf Jacobsen were convicted in Superior Court of CONSIPRACY and FELONY GRAND THEFT OF DOGS. It was the FIRST CONVICTION of its kind in the United States. In January 1988, after years of surveillance and investigation, LCA uncovered a pet theft ring operated by the three. By responding to "free to good home" ads, they had collected over 140 dogs and cats and sold them for biomedical experimentation. Although Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles admitted they were the recipients of 31 dogs, only 6 were alive. Loma Linda University received 18 dogs but none remained. The Veterans Administration Hospital received 29 and 8 were still alive. While the pet-nappers were out on bail awaiting trial, they assumed aliases and set up business in another city. As LCA continued to monitor the trio's activities, a combined LCA/LASPCA sting operation was set up and broadcast on national news. It led directly to the thieves' second arrest. The trio's precedent-setting guilty verdict gives LCA an important victory in our ongoing fight to protect defenseless animals. Judge David M. Schacter sentenced Ruggiero to six years and two months in state prison. Spero and Jacobsen were given five years and three years respectively. Judge Schacter called Ruggiero the "personificaiton of evil" and "conniving and manipulative." He said the trio was "greedy, insensitive, and deceitful."

"It's time for people to speak out and demand that the government end this travesty."
Chris DeRose, President

* DO keep your pet indoors, especially when you are not at home.
* DO properly indentify your pet. Use the leg to tattoo as ears can be cut off.
* DO keep a collar on your pet.
* DO be aware of strangers in the neighborhood. Report anything suspicious to the police.
* DO have advertisements in newspapers for pet adoptions read "NO BUNCHERS."
* DO padlock your gate.
* DO keep your dog on a leash.
* DO make neighbors and friends aware of the problem of PET THEFT.
* DO NOT let your pet roam free in your neighborhood.
* DO NOT leave your pet unattended at any time.
* DO NOT tie your pet outside a store to wait for you.
* DO NOT use "Free To Good Home" ads to place your pet in a new home.
* DO NOT place your pet in a new home without checking the new owners' references
* DO NOT place your pet in a new home without first visiting the premises.
* DO NOT place your pet in a new home without having the new owners sign a pet adoption contract.
* DO NOT let your pet be visible from the street.

If you have any information about pet theft in your area, call us at (310) 271-6096

For more information, call: 1-800-4-PET-THEFT
(cost $3.00 per minute--must be 18 years or older)

8033 Sunset Boulevard
Suite 35
Los Angeles CA 90046
Office: (310) 271-6096
Fax: (310) 271-1890
Hotline: (310) 271-1409

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