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
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,
firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.