On April 1, the fliers began appearing around the North Central Animal Shelter, near 26th and Figueroa streets. "We Will Kill Our Pets To Protest the War," screamed the big block letters on 8-by-10 sheets stapled to fences and telephone posts. The loathsome sacrifice would occur at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 6, at the Silver Lake Dog Park, purportedly the work of Raelian Pet Owners United To Stop the War. (You remember the Raelians. Theyre the we-cloned-a-baby-because-the-space-people-told-us-to-do-it folks.) As justification, the flier contained some vague reference to the Assyrians of Mesopotamia sacrificing prized animals to end tribal warfare.
A hoax? The people at L.A.s Department of Animal Services werent so sure. The shelter faxed a flier to the Northeast Division of the Los Angeles Police Department which, in turn, faxed it to the Counter Terrorism Bureau of the LAPD. Yet, here was the creepy part: It isnt illegal to kill a healthy pet as along as you do it "humanely."
Lieutenant Kevin McClure, Northeast Divisions watch commander, decided a public spectacle did not constitute humane treatment and set out to investigate the threat to L.A.s pet. By 5:45 p.m., at the Silver Lake Dog Park, plenty of dogs and dog owners were present, but no obvious Raelians. Nevertheless, three LAPD officers (including McClure), three park rangers, a couple of animal-regulation officers, an animal-rights activist, plus two people from the SPCA arrayed themselves in force across the street from the park. The SPCA guys, clad in flak jackets with 9mm sidearms, had a vaguely SWAT-like aura.
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By 6:10, with still no Raelians in evidence, giddiness started to set in. Tom Cotter, the supervising park ranger, pointed to an unsuspecting woman driving a dog-filled SUV, "Now theres a friggin Raelian if I ever saw one!"
Meanwhile, the SPCAs Lieutenant Doug Buck, who had been watching the park through binoculars, spotted four suspiciously dogless persons who, when questioned, claimed not to be Raelians but lookie-loos who came on the off chance something exciting would happen. "All of us are cat owners," said the groups leader, a 30-something sporting around 35 earrings, the largest of which resembled an enormous, multicolored dead worm.
By 6:45, everybody was pretty much ready to pack it in although McClure said he assigned a black-and-white to stay in the area.
Early Monday morning, the Raelians Salem Assli, who identified himself as the Raelians "Los Angeles guide," finally weighed in via e-mail. "The flier is a hoax by some people who are obviously trying to make the Raelians look bad."