The wrong way to defend the coyotes

An animal-rights activist who spoke before the Glendale City Council

Tuesday offered a stunning insight on the tactics of her cause,

thanks to a single reckless statement that packed more wallop than

any comment about the city's trap-and-euthanize policy for coyotes.

Pamelyn Ferdin, who as a child guest-starred on 1960s and '70s

television programs such as "Gunsmoke," "The Brady Bunch" and "Star

Trek," invited a slander suit by alleging that Kelly Lynn Keen, the

3-year-old girl who died from a coyote attack in 1981, instead was a victim of child abuse.

During public testimony about the city's coyote-control methods,

Ferdin -- who with a handful of others had been protesting on the

City Hall steps moments prior -- marched to the speaker's podium and

asserted the following: " ... The child you talked about, in an

unsupervised area, was allegedly killed by a coyote. The child had a

ruptured spleen, from the medical records. That comes from blunt

trauma. Blunt trauma comes from a beating, not from a bite to the


To say the council and audience were left in shock probably

understates the effect of Ferdin's comment. The notion that a

tragedy that galvanized the community 23 years ago -- a horrible

accident that, fortunately, has not been repeated -- would be twisted

such that the coyote was absolved of responsibility for the killing,

and Kelly's family members instead were accused of a crime, is almost

shameful enough to itself be criminal.

Cathy Keen, watching the proceedings at home, was taken aback by

Ferdin's remark and decided to do something about it. Grabbing her

daughter's 23-year-old death certificate, Keen drove to City Hall and

asked the council if she could respond.

In an emotional five-minute speech, during which she showed the

council the death certificate (it lists Kelly's cause of death as

multiple wounds from a coyote mauling), Keen's shock at Ferdin's

remarks quickly turned into indignation. "I cannot believe someone

would accuse my husband or me of child abuse," she said. "I am

president of Glendale Healthy Kids. I have spent my life as a child

advocate. I loved that child with all of my heart and soul."

Keen said she plans to sue Ferdin for slander, and with a

videotaped copy of the council meeting in hand, she's got what

appears to be an excellent case.

But Ferdin did more than simply open herself to a lawsuit. Her

remark tarred her side in the coyote-rights debate, or whatever you

want to call it, with a broad brush of recklessness. The city's

policy about the animals might deserve some discussion, and perhaps

amending, but who's going to care about the animal-rights side's

arguments now? With Ferdin as their flag-bearer, they proved

themselves to be reckless, irresponsible, insensitive and cruel. If

that's the way they treat fellow humans, who cares what they think

about animals?

As she waits to hear from Cathy Keen's lawyer, it might behoove

Ferdin to hear how individuals in the community feel about her

insinuations. To that end, we include her e-mail address,, which is available on her website. She

supposedly answers each e-mail personally. Feel free to let the

News-Press know how she responds when you write her.

And for those in the community who think the city's coyote

strategy needs changing, take away this lesson: There's a way to

effect change. Pamelyn Ferdin's methods are decidedly not it.

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