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Here’s an idea for both PETA and MADD

donnell collins/staff photographer Jeff Ward.

donnell collins/staff photographer Jeff Ward.

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Updated: December 12, 2012 6:16AM



Oh Lord! Not PETA again! As if staring down those gory neighborhood Halloween dioramas wasn’t frightening enough, the Jesse Jacksons of the animal kingdom have foisted themselves upon the hapless citizens of Aurora one more time.

If you’ve been following Beacon-News reporter Stephanie Lulay, then you know the never boring People for the Ethical Treatment of animals just sent a letter asking Aurora to charge bird hoarder Dave Skeberdis with “cruelty to animals.”

Of course, Mr. Skeberdis recently made news when crews removed 325 live and 120 dead birds from his Shadybrook Lane home. The live fowl were turned over to the Greater Chicago Cage Club who will care for them during a quarantine period.

Now, remember, PETA is the group that thought nothing of commissioning a billboard depicting a great white shark complete with bloody human leg dangling from its mouth reading “Payback is hell.” So when you consider their self-promotion propensity, I asked PETA senior cruelty caseworker, Kristen Simon, if charges were a little over the top.

You see, we have one tiny little parakeet, and not only is he the messiest creature on the planet, but when he not amused, you can hear him screeching from a full two blocks away.

Despite his special light absorbing fabric cage cover, on summer mornings he insists on waking us up at 6 a.m. Since “budgerigar” is literally Aboriginal for “tastes good,” I’ve considered that option, but I don’t particularly want PETA breathing down my neck either.

My theory is, having to live with 325 birds is punishment enough. In fact, I’d say it borders on cruel and unusual punishment which really oughtta mitigate any other potential charges.

“Skeberdis has admitted to being an ‘animal hoarder’ who compulsively accumulates and neglects animals,” Simon said, “He needs to see someone specifically for the hoarding problem and it needs to be court mandated or he won’t follow through.”

“There’s no guarantee he won’t relapse if he’s not charged,” Simon continued, “This way, animal control can intervene if necessary. If anything is going to prevent him from falling back into hoarding it will be charging and convicting him.”

But that’s not the whole truth.

Because I also spoke with Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon who told me that court sanctions could only be enforced during the term of Skeberdis’ probation, which will end. Then he’s on his own.

But what if, instead of bringing the national organizational hammer down, with stipulations set in stone, PETA sponsored Mr. Skeberdis’ recovery? Wouldn’t that kind of unbridled compassion be much better “publicity” than the bleep I’ve been giving them?

“I don’t think so,” Simon said, “It would still be voluntary and it’s neither the taxpayer’s nor PETA’s responsibility to pay for his care.”

When I accused her organization of not putting their money where their mouth is, she responded, “We do put our money where our mouth is — towards animals. Our money is better spent on those programs, not on someone who is responsible. Should MADD pay for alcoholism counselors?”

And then it hit me! That’s brilliant! What if MADD set up a series of national alcohol counseling centers and subsidized that care? And what if PETA showed human beings one-tenth of compassion they exhibit towards turkeys?

What if, instead of going after first time drunk drivers with absurd and ineffective breathlock laws, MADD reached out to the chronic repeat DUI offenders who are actually the real problem?

They might actually solve the problem!

We all get so caught up in self-righteous pontificating that we tend to forget that, just like those St. Nick’s nuns, insistently beating someone over the head with a yardstick might just make them that much more rebellious.

Look how poorly I turned out!

So rather than lambaste them any more than I already have, I want to thank Ms. Simon and PETA for, even if only unintentionally, coming up with one of the best concepts I’ve heard all year.

And I’m going to challenge PETA and MADD to dispense with their no bad publicity theory and create and sponsor programs that would address that all-important human element. Who knows? They might just put themselves out of business.

But sadly, since no one listens to me, Aurora authorities did end up charging Mr. Skederdis with companion animal (they’re called pets!) hoarding.

Giving in to PETA is like responding to Rick Lawrence one too many times. You’re only encouraging them. The next thing you know, they’ll be asking you to change Hammond Avenue to Pork Substitute Place.



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