Sunday, August 16, 2009

PetPAC's Bill Hemby sued by California in "Operation False Charity"

Hi all -

What the...? From my point of view, things could not be more surreal in the pet legislation movement.

First, we watched as our very own "Town-hallers" filled SB 250 hearings, saying the craziest things about SB 250, and demeaning spay and neuter in general with paranoid claims about a Government takeover of the underground breeding industry.

Now things are getting even nuttier. For years, SCIL has warned supporters, opponents and Legislators about Bill Hemby and his PetPAC group. The man simply cannot utter a truthful word about spay and neuter legislation. It was Mr. Hemby who originally coined the ridiculous "Pet Extinction" term, to confuse and anger animal breeders.

Worse than his lies about good legislation, Mr. Hemby has been involved for years in charity groups with dubious fundraising techniques that apparently rely on deception in order to dupe people into sending money. In 2007 SCIL put up a website devoted to this subject,, in an attempt to expose PetPAC and Mr. Hemby's other group COPS for what they really were. This guy has been laughing all the way to the bank.

Now it turns out we didn't even know half the story. Bill Hemby has now been named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Justice, as part of a nationwide sweep called "Operation False Charity."

The lawsuit alleges all sorts of bad behavior by Mr. Hemby and his partners. They appear to have set up a charity to enrich themselves, a charity that never even attempted to spend money on what it supposedly had been set up to do. They would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids the California Dept of Justice.

I couldn't make this sound worse than it is for Mr. Hemby. The State, through this lawsuit, is attempting to permanently ban him from ever running a charity in California again. My assumption is that, if they are successful, PetPAC would shut down for good... since it is pretty much a one-Hemby show over there.

If you want to read more sordid details on this, click here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Judie's email made some folks mad

Hi everybody

I run a software company, my wife Judie Mancuso is a full time volunteer working on legislation to improve the lives of pets in California. My interaction with the animal community is as a sometime TNR volunteer, and as someone who tries to keep up with the bevy of animals swarming through my home. When Judie started on this path a few years ago, I had no idea about the number of people illegally breeding animals in California. I also had no idea about how mean some of them are!

Usually I don't have much time to participate in this stuff, but things have gotten so nutty that I started a blog to be able to vent. Since Judie started her work, there has been a group of breeders who constantly post insults and questions about her motives on their websites and blogs. Always present in the group has been someone named Gina Spadafori. For years, although we have never written to her or about her, she has regularly passed on bogus arguments about spay and neuter legislation, while her blog readers follow up with nasty personal comments about Judie.

Judie (for the first time) mentioned Gina in a recent email (you can see it here), describing her as a writer for the AKC, and quoting her directly as writing "realize that we’re all in this together, pet-owners against the forces of pet extinction".

Now, I have no idea who Gina is, other than if you Google her you find lots of stuff about her books, her AKC associations and her work against puppy mills.

Anyway here is part of Gina's post from yesterday:

"Judie Mancuso, the spittle-spewing hater behind forced spay-neuter, sent a fund-raising pitch out to her e-mail list while I was gone, quoting me out of context and claiming that I was a regular contributor to AKC publications.

Uh, no. Haven’t taken an assignment from any AKC publication since the ’80s. But hey, why start with the truth now? Mancuso continues to insist that Santa Cruz was a success and that forced spay-neuter works, even though it hasn’t worked anywhere, and everywhere it kills more pets than it saves."

Oh, man... all these years, tricked into thinking I was living with a caring animal rescuer, now this eloquent author informs me that in reality my wife is a spittle spewing hater! As I said, this pet stuff is not my main thing, but I have reviewed the state statistics and have worked with shelter folks enough to know what's up. So, here are some responses to that posting.

First, Santa Cruz truly is a success story. I can provide contact details to Gina if needed and she can talk directly to the folks who run the shelters over there. Or if readers want to get details about the program directly from the Santa Cruz SPCA, you can visit their website here. Opponents like Gina may feel that the SCPA is just lying, of course, but they are not... shelters around the state are indeed shipping animals to Santa Cruz today, because they have extra space. New York City also has a similar law in place, you can read about their success here.

Second, regarding the 2008 LA statistics, the Los Angeles ordinance only began enforcement in late 2008. No one would expect it to produce large results in a few months. The truth is that today in LA, the previously underutilized free and low cost spay and neuter programs are now FULL, with waiting lists, thanks to the new ordinance, and several other markers are moving in a positive direction.

Here are some details about that bogus claim cited by breeders across the Internet, that LA euthanasia rose 177% in one year (2008).

First of all, the LA ordinance did not even begin enforcement until Oct 2008. As far as the 177% increase claim, here is what's actually going on. The Los Angeles dog euthanasia numbers reported to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) are as follows:

2004 37,078 dogs euthanized

2005 33,723 dogs euthanized

2006 30,250 dogs euthanized

2007 12,118 dogs euthanized*

2008 33,601 dogs euthanized

The CDPH has a note next to the 2007 number that states " * Report was not received from entire jurisdiction".

The opponents of SB 250 are taking the incomplete 2007 number, comparing it to the actual 2008 number, and concluding that dog euthanasia went up 177% in one year (12,118 to 33,601). But clearly the 2007 number is just incomplete data.

The 2008 number did actually rise 11% since 2006, primarily because of the thousands of people relinquishing their animals due to financial troubles. How do we know? Look at the total number of "surrendered" dogs in Los Angeles:

2006 43,559 dogs surrendered

2008 60,712 dogs surrendered

That's a 39% increase in surrendered dogs, primarily due to the terrible financial crisis today.

The Dept of Health fixed their error within a week, but the folks on the wrong side of this issue kept the old data that allows them to claim the sky is falling in LA based on 2008 data.

Third, readers should take issue with anyone who claims that spay and neuter laws kill more pets that they save. The data that supposedly supports this argument comes only from sources with a vested interest in stopping these laws; sometimes the data is distorted to make a point, other times it's just outright fabrications. One sheet from an opposition group purported to show a bunch of different communities where spay and neuter laws did not work. SCIL spent two days calling the principles in those communities to find the truth, and it turned out the entire sheet was pure fiction. The amount of made-up stuff out there about these laws is incredible, and the amount of personal attacks about Judie (questions about her motives, insults, etc.) is hard to keep up with.

In any event... Gina also is upset because she says Judie is lying about her (she's not). But I can sympathize - my last name is Wicklund, and there is an animal activist in the middle of the country with the same last name. So guess what? There are posts all over the net claiming that we are brothers, that we plot together on devious anti-pet schemes, etc. Nutty stuff.

Anyway, there are plenty of sites out there that refer to Gina as an AKC contributor. But as a correction, the website has been changed to list her as "author, columnist, former contributor to AKC publications".

Besides that, it is difficult to identify what else is supposed to be a lie or out of context. Gina does indeed make the claim "we're all in this together, pet-owners against the forces of pet extinction". There is nothing to take out of context in that statement; like other breeders, she is pushing the fantasy world of pet extinction, while claiming that her views represent pet-owners as a whole.

So, Gina, I can request a correction on the website on either point if that statement you wrote doesn't actually represent your views.
You can write me at, just let me know which thing (1 or 2) was misunderstood:

1) If you don't actually buy into the ridiculous concept of pet extinction, deep apologies & I'll request a correction on the site for you.

2) If you understand that the majority of pet owners are in favor of spay and neuter legislation, and that virtually all the opposition is linked to breeders or animal industries, apologies & I'll request a correction on the site for you. Readers who need information on this can visit this page, it is an overview of a 2008 Zogby poll showing support for laws like SB 250 to be high among voters.

One more comment, Gina's blog post states that she supports ethical breeders, a claim frequently repeated on other breeder friendly blogs. I wonder if they include adherence to the law as part of their definition of ethics, as I would. Readers may know, or some may not believe, that the majority of people breeding and selling animals in California do not have the required seller's permit, and / or do not comply with local & state business and animal welfare laws.

In fact we have several recent written examples of breeders telling one another how to avoid complying with local laws, avoid animal control when they want to enforce those laws, and avoid tax law. Many of these guys and gals are openly hostile to the idea of complying with local and state laws. Gina may be an ethical person, and her work against puppy mills is admirable, but nobody should fool themselves into thinking that most people breeding pets for money share that enthusiasm for the law.

John Wicklund


As I was writing this, a comment from someone representing the anti-legislation group "Save Our Dogs" was posted, complaining about Judie's email, and personally attacking Judie in the same way that Gina does. They point out that the SOD website is based in California; Judie had stated that the site was registered out of state (correct). I requested a change to the website to list the site as "created and maintained by a California couple", which I believe is also correct.

Readers may be interested to know that the main bar chart distributed by Save Our Dogs, supposedly showing that the Santa Cruz program is a failure, is a misrepresentation. SCIL took their same bar chart and extended the values over time. The result is a graph showing that the Santa Cruz values dropped dramatically over time compared to the other communities on the graph, the exact opposite of what the original snapshot (showing only one point in time) purports to illustrate. It is a lesson in data manipulation that extends to much of what the opponents of spay and neuter legislation do in their attempt to stop progress for pets in California.