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The Fresno Frenzy: Invasion of the Animal and Earth Liberation Fronts

Posted in animal liberation with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2010 by carmen4thepets

by Steven Best

Flying over Fresno, I looked out the window of the airplane and saw a landscape littered with factory farm buildings that housed thousands of animals in complete misery, confined in cramped cages and pens until they were ready for slaughter. I got a foreboding feeling about the setting in which I was about to land.

I was en route to an unprecedented conference called “Revolutionary Environmentalism,” held at the California State University, Fresno (CSU). It brought together notorious animal rights and environmental activists that, at one time or another, had been arrested for direct action and acts of animal liberation and property destruction, along with noted academics who write about and support this controversial aspect of the animal rights and environmental movements.

The implicit understanding of “revolutionary” involved (1) a critique of the capitalist system and its privileging of profit over all other values; (2) opposition to the Western worldview of anthropocentrism which disconnects human beings from nature and views the natural world as resources for human consumption; (3) direct action tactics that bypass the political process as an ineffectual means of change, that practice civil disobedience and lawbreaking, and that sometimes destroy the property of individuals or industries that harm animals or degrade nature.

Organized by political science professor Mark Somma,CSU approved hosting this provocative and singular conference. Rarely do universities support such controversial topics, but CSU approval was all the more remarkable as animal rights and environmental activists have declared war against interests such as agribusiness that are among its key financial contributors.

In attendance were former Animal Liberation Front (ALF) activists Rod Coronado and Gary Yourofsky; Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepard Conservation Society; former Earth Liberation Front (ELF) spokespersons Craig Rosebaugh and James Leslie Pickering; Dr. Bron Taylor, chair of the Religion Department at the University of Florida; Dr. Rik Scarce from the Science and Technology Studies Department at Michigan State University; faculty members from various departments at CSU; and myself.

During a time when the Bush administration put the nation on “high” alert for terrorist attacks, the conference brought together representatives from the FBI’s most wanted “domestic terrorist” groups–the ALF and ELF–and many others to discuss radical environmentalism and direct action. The stage was set for high drama.


Interviews with Rod Coronado and Captain Paul Watson

An Irate Industry

The passion play started in December 2001 when the Center For Consumer Freedom (CCF), a conservative group representing restaurant and tavern owners, got wind of the conference and put notice of it on the group’s website with an article entitled “Legitimizing the Lunatics.” Setting the precedent for conservative reaction, the CCF vilified the conference participants and condemned CSU for allowing “criminals” and “eco-terrorists” on its campus, thereby allegedly justifying their cause. In a case study of how industry propaganda and disinformation machines operate, CCF whipped up a climate of fear and hysteria by alerting other interest groups around the country about the event. CCF misrepresented university motives, absurdly exaggerated the danger of violence, and caricatured conference participants in crude terms while never questioning the impact of industry on animals and the earth.

Needless to say, the Fresno agribusiness community was outraged that the university it contributed money to would host a cadre of people militantly opposed to its business and values. Weeks before it happened, the conference dominated Fresno media and talk radio stations. People throughout the university and community debated it with great intensity, although with precious little information about direct action movements. Symptomatic of the paranoia hovering over Fresno as thick as its deadly fog of air pollution, car dealers hired extra security out of fear that hoards of black-clothed, balaclava-wearing thugs would pounce on their SUV lots in pre-dawn raids, as in fact the ELF has done in other states.

Prominent among the mob of detractors was John Harris, owner of one of the largest beef ranches in the San Joaquin Valley. Harris penned an op-ed in the Fresno Bee calling the conference participants “terrorists.” Many backers of CSU threatened to withdraw financial support in the belief that the university “sponsored” or “supported” eco-terrorism. Republican California state Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth joined the chorus of those decrying the “waste” of taxpayer money and demanding reducing state funds to the university proportionately.

The university issued press releases and statements on its website that rejected these charges and insisted it was only hosting a timely debate about issues that clearly relate to the critics. Wisely, the university acknowledged that animal and earth liberation movements were part of a new political culture and it is better to try to understand rather than ignore them. Many critics were not convinced, and felt that the university was unavoidably validating repugnant radical viewpoints. These same people insisted that they are not opponents of free speech rights, while they made a convenient exception to the rule. Symptomatic of the level of bias, a CSU student interviewed in the Los Angeles Times compared the conference members to the Ku Klux Klan, as CSU classics and humanities professor Bruce Thorton argued the university should no more sponsor this group of radicals than it should child molesters.

Other critics proclaimed the conference was rigged unfairly to advance a one-sided agenda without opposing voices. In fact, agribusiness interests were invited to speak but declined the offer. Moreover, the charge of bias is absurd because the conference was the one time university and community members could hear alternative viewpoints rather than the agribusiness propaganda that dominates Fresno. The conference, in other words, was the balance critics claimed was lacking.


Free Speech  Except For You

Putting aside invidious comparisons with activists who espouse compassion, non-violence, and anti-discriminatory views of any kind, does not even the KKK have a right to speak? Is not the university the most appropriate forum for debating controversial issues? Does truth not emerge through the clash of opposing positions? Are direct action tactics and the new liberation movements not among the urgent issues of the day that deserve a public airing? Is it wrong to discuss what is happening to animals and the environment in an era of intense development of the natural world and mass mechanization? Should students be “protected” from controversial views or do they need to hear them? Can they not make up their own minds, or do they need the paternalism of the state patriarchs?

The greater harm is not in having the debate, but in silencing it. The representatives of the agricultural industry and their conspirators showed themselves to be cowards, morally bankrupt, devoid of respect for truth and democracy, and shameless peddlers of propaganda. The university, conversely, was courageous as it withstood attacks from ardent supporters, from other members of the faculty and the community, and from the state government. If nothing else, the university gave local business interests the opportunity to meet and better understand their enemy.

Most of the conference was closed to the non-university community in order to prevent disruption and guarantee the kind of sober dialogue the organizers and participants sought. Thus, conference participants spoke to students and faculty in classes, seminars, and panel discussions. The main event, an evening panel open to anyone in the community with a ticket, drew 800 people. Like the classroom visits and the day panels, the audience response was overwhelmingly positive.

Instead of being bombarded with one-sided opinions, vilifications, slander, and distortion of the highest order–as they were in the weeks before the conference–thousands of members of the university and community had their first opportunity to hear radical activists and academics represent their views in their own words and in a full context. As the conference participants spoke to classes throughout the university and presented their views in numerous panels and a huge public forum, they had the opportunity to explain the legitimacy and need for direct action tactics, and to discuss the origins, motivations, and goals of the new liberation movements.

Whatever audience members concluded, it was obvious that these “lunatics” are intelligent, aware, and compassionate people who lost their government trust blinders for good reason. They are people committed to the defense of the natural and social worlds against the ever-escalating assault of industries on the forests, rivers, wilderness, and animals, and their radicalism emerged organically out of their political experience. In effect, radicals are products of the state that condemns them, for if government enforced laws and protected citizens, and if industries were not allowed “ownership” rights over animals and the environment, there would be no need for an ALF, ELF, and their academic supporters.


Interview with Dr. Steve Best

Will Monkeywrench For Nature

Throughout the event, the activists and academics challenged the charge that destroying property is violence by insisting that violence can only be committed against sentient beings and not objects. The ALF and ELF are deeply committed to principles of nonviolence and see themselves as adhering to the peaceful direct action traditions of Gandhi and King. In the history of ALF and ELF actions, no human being has ever been injured or killed, whereas activists have been assaulted and killed by industry goons and the state. Subsequently, panelists rejected the charge that they are “terrorists” as an Orwellian reversal of the truth. ALF and ELF activists harm no one and protect animals and the environment from severe harm; conversely, industries torture and kill billions of animals as they devastate ecosystems throughout the planet. Thus, who are the real terrorists?

Key questions emerged throughout the conference: who are the ALF and ELF and why do they exist? Do these groups play a positive or negative role in the struggles to protect the natural world? Why do they feel it is necessary to break laws? Can no real and enduring progress be gained through legislation? Are property destruction and arson acceptable tactics? What role do radical academics play in the new liberation movement and how should activists and academics relate?

The new liberation movements are relatively young, having emerged in the late 1970s (the ALF), the early 1980s (Earth First!), and the 1990s (the ELF). In strong terms, activists explained that they have found it necessary to work outside the legal system and flout its laws, because the U.S. government is thoroughly corrupt in its representation of powerful corporate interests over the people. Activists have no trust in the state, and they described how, in cases such as the Animal Welfare Act, laws serve only to regulate exploitation and violence, or to distract attention from the fact that the state serves the interests of industries. Known for sinking and ramming whaling ships, Paul Watson explained that he does not break laws; rather he upholds international treaties supposed to protect whales and other animals but which in fact are not enforced.

Activists did not block the possibility of others making useful reforms within the state. The Humane Society of the United States, for example, has been the driving force behind creating special elections that bypass the influence of industries on governments and allow citizens themselves to pass laws against various forms of animal cruelty. But the direct action activists emphasized how difficult it is to make progressive laws, how poorly they are enforced, and how they are constantly rewritten and watered down through industry pressure on government. In an extreme situation where after decades of hard work by animal rights and environmental groups ever more animals are being killed and abused and the destruction of the earth advances rapidly, activists feel that “extreme” measures are needed to defend the earth and its animal species from attack.

Liberation: Coming to a Town Near You

While the country feared another attack from the Al Qaeda and remained on high alert status, activists and academics gathered peacefully to talk about the crisis in the natural world. Although they provoked anger with many, the conference members had a deep and lasting impact on many students who for the first time heard radical viewpoints instead of industry propaganda. Along with the outrage, there was also appreciation for alternative perspectives and challenges to the state, capitalism, and the Western anthropocentric mindset that views the natural world as nothing but resources for human beings to use as they see fit.

Clearly, this band of “eco-terrorists” is no threat to national security, although the movements they represent or defend do pose serious threats to industries that exploit animals and the earth. The new liberation movements can be compared to the Black Panthers of the 1960s to the degree that mainstream thinking frames them as radical, extreme, and violent. Or, they can be likened to the abolitionist movement of the nineteenth century insofar as they seek to liberate and protect a living world from those who illegitimately claim rights of property ownership over it. Along with globalization and genetic engineering, animal rights and radical environmentalism are among the most urgent and heated topics of the day.

Flushed with excitement over a successful and historically significant education forum, I wondered about its long-term impact. Would there be more or less free speech at Fresno in the future? Can the spark of the conference ignite activity among an otherwise passive student body and dormant campus? Was the door opened to other radical viewpoints, or would there be a strong reaction and efforts to reindoctrinate the community with agribusiness propaganda? Can there be more conferences like this, or was it a singular event, both in terms of bringing together a unique combination of individuals and getting a university to host and fund it? (In fact, since the Fresno conference, a conference of radical environmental activists was featured at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and provoked similar ire against the university for using tax dollars to sponsor “eco-terrorists.”

Moreover, another university-sponsored conference of radical activists and academics is being planned for spring 2004 around the publication of the forthcoming book, Terrorists or Freedom Fighters: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals, co-edited by Tony Nocella and myself.)

Unfortunately, one of the main issues of the conference, the relation between radical academics and activists, was never engaged. Academics certainly appreciate the activists, but I heard anti-theory/academic biases voiced on occasion by some activists. Whether appreciated by all or not, it was important that academics were present to speak a different discourse informed by their study of history, sociology, and philosophy. There is a need for the new liberation movements to be taught in university courses; to be studied and debated at an academic level by sociologists, philosophers, political scientists, and others; and to be involved in public debates. While many radical academics are deeply involved in activist causes, teaching and writing can be important modes of activism. Educating students and the public about the history, ethics, and politics of militant direct action movements is an important service academics can perform as they help to legitimate animal and earth liberation as serious and important topics of discussion.

Despite the new attack on activism and constitutional rights in the era of the “PATRIOT Act,” animal and earth liberation movements continue to wage war against the destructive planetary machine of capitalism. As capitalist industries destroy ever more human and animal life and devour the earth, opposition movements to this genocide and ecocide will and must escalate. As they do, and become ever more serious threats to industries, the state will fight back with ferocity, as it is doing currently through the Patriot Act and its even more repressive sequel soon to debut in our land, “PATRIOT Act 2,” or the “Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003.”

One can only hope that the coming struggles will not be violent, but history shows that when the stakes are this high, moderation is not always exercised. •

Dr. Steven Best is NIO’s Senior Editor of Total Liberation.  Associate professor of philosophy at UTEP, award-winning writer, noted speaker, public intellectual, and seasoned activist, Dr. Best engages the issues of the day such as animal rights, ecological crisis, biotechnology, liberation politics, terrorism, mass media, globalization, and capitalist domination. Best has published 10 booksover 100 articles and reviews, spoken in over a dozen countries, interviewed with media throughout the world, appeared in numerous documentaries, and was voted by VegNews as one of the nations “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians.” He has come under frequent fire for his uncompromising advocacy of “total liberation” (humans, animals, and the earth) and has been banned from the UK for the power of his thoughts. From the US to Norway, from Sweden to France, from Germany to Russia to South Africa, Best shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis(See Dr. Best’s Complete Biography)



Letters from the Underground, Parts I and II

Posted in animal liberation with tags , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by carmen4thepets

The following essay is included in the book Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (Lantern Books, New York,  2004), edited by Dr. Steven Best (Philosophy Professor at UTEP) and Anthony Nocella. To order the book, go To read more about Best, Nocella and the ALF go to




The following article, the first and second in a three-part series printed in No Compromise, is one person’s story of her involvement with the ALF. In Part I, she explains how she overcame her fear and excuses and started conducting solo ALF actions. In Part II, she describes how she found partners to help her with her actions and how they worked together as a team. These are useful statements of how and why individuals decide to go underground in order to fight for animal rights.

Part I: How I Came To Join the ALF

To begin, let me say that while associating with animal rights activists (something I try to avoid), I often hear people rhapsodizin6g about articles they’ve read in the press or seen on the news about animals being liberated, laboratories being trashed, lorries being torched, fast food restaurants being burned to the ground, etc. In the course of these conversations it is practically guaranteed that one or more persons will praise the action and wonder, “Gee, how do I hook up with these people?” or “Why don’t these lads contact me?” or “How do I get involved with that group?” This is how I found the answer to that question.

After reading stories about lab break-ins and fur stores being torched, I, too, desperately wanted to join this group. But how? There was really no place to start. All of my friends in the animal rights movement had less interest in illegal direct action than I did, and even those who showed some interest were completely clueless as to how to meet these people.

At one point, I wrote an animal rights group to let them know that I would be willing to help them raid a lab. Needless to say, that letter went unanswered. Finally I realized what I was doing—I was waiting for someone with a plan to drop in out of the blue and ask me to join in a lab raid. Now, stop and think about this. Would anyone who had put hundreds of hours into planning a covert, illegal direct action that could land them in prison for years risk asking a basic stranger for help simply because he or she was a vegetarian or belonged to the local animal rights chapter? NO! (At least not if they want to stay active and out of jail.)

So how did I, or a better question is, how do you, end up “joining” the Animal Liberation Front? That’s easy. Come up with your own plan! Really. It’s not as hard as you think. Let me repeat this important point: Come up with your own plan.

One of the reasons there is not a lot more illegal direct action happening is that there are only a few people willing to invest the time and energy necessary to choose a viable target, research the facts, re-con the place, and conduct any other work necessary to execute a successful direct action. There are always plenty of people who want to help in the actual execution of the plan—people are always willing to share in the “excitement,” but not in the actual work. Simply put, no one wants to help bake the bread, but everyone wants to eat it.

Overcome the Excuses

People dismiss the idea of planning a direct action for many reasons. Nearly all are mere excuses that could easily be overcome. Most commonly, people tell themselves they don’t know anyone who could help in the final execution of the plan. For example, they don’t know who could find homes for X number of animals; they don’t know whom they could trust as a lookout; they don’t know who could loan or rent them a vehicle to use, etc. I want to emphasize here that if you are faced with a problem like this, continue on!

There are many bridges that one can foresee that look uncrossable during the planning of an action. These problems seem irresolvable and often discourage people from continuing on with their plan. Again I must emphasize, continue. These problems either solve themselves or are more easily solved when you actually reach that point of the plan. And in some cases, the plan is aborted for some other reason long before the problem ever has to be confronted. It is important to add that you should expect about four out of five plans into which you’ve invested time and money to fall through. Again, this shouldn’t deter you. If you approach direct action with the knowledge that most of your plans may not work, then you should not be discouraged from battling on if some of your plans do fall through.

While it is not necessary, it is advisable before taking any direct action to read as much literature as possible on the topic. This is much easier to do now thanks to a “revival” in the grassroots animal rights/liberation movement. If possible, any literature pertaining to illegal activities should be mailed to a fake name at a post office box or private mailbox center. If this is not possible, perhaps a well-trusted friend (who could handle police/federal harassment and is not personally involved in illegal activities) would be willing to have it sent to his or her place. Another possibility would be to get this information off a Web site (from a library, campus, or cyber-coffee shop computer).

Though some of these security precautions may seem ridiculous, paranoid, and unnecessary, you will be thankful you followed them if you continue to increase the frequency, severity, and effectiveness of your actions, thus producing more intense local and federal investigations.

An Army of One

But, wait a minute! You still don’t know if there is anyone you can trust. This does not mean that you shouldn’t consider doing an action. When I realized that no one was going to drop in and ask me to help them with their plan—when I finally realized that I was the ALF—I decided to target a fast food restaurant that I had noticed as appearing vulnerable. Though I still didn’t know who could help me with this plan, I proceeded to scope it out the next few nights, still thinking I would find someone to help me.

Though I had no experience at “casing a joint,” it came very easily and naturally. Between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. (the time I decided would be safest to strike the place) I carefully scoped it out. Some nights, dressed head to toe in my jogging gear (now is not the time to be caught there in your balaclava), I jogged up and down the street past the restaurant. I was careful to look for possible activity inside the building, check on any employees’ cars in the parking lot, judge the amount of traffic and police presence, determine how well the parking lot and building were lit, scan for any drive-through or security cameras (to look out for and to sabotage!), etc.

Other nights I walked my boyfriend’s dog up and down the street looking for the same things. In no time at all I was very familiar with the activity of the area (and had walked two emergency escape routes I would take should I be interrupted). I was soon confident with this target. Unfortunately, I still didn’t know anyone I would trust enough to divulge my plans to. I knew what I wanted to do.

The day before I was going to execute my plan, I drove to a neighboring town and bought super glue, spray paint, and some garden gloves from three different stores, making sure to pay in cash at each store. That evening I went for a walk wearing my gloves and ended up picking up two large rocks and half of a brick that I determined was small enough to carry around and handle, yet big enough to smash through the thick plate glass windows of a fast food restaurant.

The First Action

Though I would have felt a bit more comfortable with a partner to look out for me, I was tired of waiting around for apathetic and unmotivated people. That night, dressed in black from head to toe, I went jogging. As I got near the restaurant I slowed to a walk. Seeing that there was no traffic around and facing a dark and empty-looking building, I approached the restaurant.

Walking briskly across the lot, I pulled my mask down over my face. At the rear of the building I quickly took off my black backpack and got out my supplies. I quickly filled the two back door locks with super glue and small pieces of paper clips that I had snipped especially for this occasion. I then proceeded to spray paint slogans over the entire back of the building and on the side with the drive-through window.

This done, I peeked around the building. Headlights were approaching from up the street, so I just remained calm and motionless. My stomach dropped when I saw it was a police car, but the cop drove by without slowing down or looking my way.

Delighted, I walked around to the front of the building and quickly tossed all three projectiles through three separate windows! I saved this part of the action for last because of the loud sound it would make. And, with the three explosions of glass, I quickly sprinted through one of my pre-arranged exits and into a residential area where I quickly vanished. I then removed my black turtleneck and balaclava, ditched them in an apartment complex dumpster, and went home.

My point here is that with enough planning, determination, and self-confidence, one person can pull off a successful action! Of course, the “bigger” or “more severe” the action, the better it may be to have a lookout with clear communications to you. Nevertheless, one person shouldn’t feel helpless and inactive because he or she doesn’t know others who are willing to take illegal direct action. Besides, taking action is your first step in feeling out potential comrades who share the same philosophy as you and are ready and willing to take action.

Part II: Looking for Partners


It is really very difficult to explain how to find close, trustworthy partners who are willing to take the same risks and are knowledgeable and strong enough to withstand heavy bouts of police interrogation, intimidation, and harassment. Though you never plan to be faced with this situation, it is a realistic risk, and you and anyone you work with should understand with a firm knowledge that if this situation arises, you and anyone you work with will not cooperate at all with any law enforcement agencies!

There is no cut and dried pattern or formula for choosing or finding partners. THIS IS GOOD. If there were a pattern or formula, it would open the door for infiltration of law enforcement and corporate agents.

However, executing the fast food action by myself led me to a second person whom I later hooked up with.

Friends and Comrades

Another member of our current cell really was not “chosen.“ We had merely known and trusted each other since high school, when we used to forge passes out of study hall so we could skip school and go swimming in the river.

We had both been vegetarians (and outcasts) in high school, and I taught him about animal rights as he shared with me his views of deep ecology. It wasn‘t long before we started working together. My point here is that there was no formula with which to evaluate my friend. I had spent years with him as a best friend and we pretty much knew each other inside and out.

These are the best kind of partners to have, since you already have an established relationship and friendship that no law enforcement agent would be able to break up. So I‘d like to emphasize that this is the best way of “finding“ a partner: working with someone you have a history with. And always trust your intuition. If someone doesn‘t feel right or you get “weird vibes“ from him or her, DON’T work with that person! The opposite is true here also, but I don‘t need to explain that, since when you find that true connection, the feeling is pretty much unmistakable.

The other partner I connected with after the fast food restaurant action had a long history in the environmental movement. I only shared my interest in illegal direct action with her after she had complained to me consistently about a billboard advertising animal products and how someone should correct the billboard so consumers would know exactly what suffering that product really hid.

After hearing repeated complaints from my friend (was she checking me out, too?), we went for a walk. Here I told her that the billboard she hated so much appeared to be easily accessible (I had already re-conned it) and that if she wanted to help redecorate it, that would be jolly.

Needless to say, she thought this was a grand idea, and, within a matter of days, the billboard had been corrected. Red paint bombs made from Christmas ornaments also gave the appearance of blood running down the advertisement.

Critiquing the Action

The day after the billboard action, my friend and I went on another walk (we NEVER talked in a house or car!) to discuss and critique our action. This may seem silly to some, but it is the best way to learn from your mistakes and make improvements for further actions.

Meetings like this—restricted to only those involved with the action—are great to learn from. Other than that they should never be discussed again. In this case, we realized that the system we had set up to warn of cops (a loud whistle) didn‘t work. I had been warned twice of police in the area by her whistle, but I was never sure when to resume work on the billboard. Also, the whistling merely attracted attention to my partner rather than to me.

Because of this, we ended up putting together our savings and buying a police scanner, frequency book, and a cheap pair of two-way radio headsets. Because of the headset‘s low price ($49.95 for the pair), I knew they would not be reliable for an action where the lookout is a long distance away. Nevertheless, they would suit our needs for more billboard, fast food restaurant, and fur shop actions.

Building Trust and Solidarity

These are the actions that should be done most often to build up confidence, unity, and comradeship. The more of these types of actions done, the more competent, confident, and experienced you and your cell will become, and you can soon “move up” to bigger and better actions (bigger and better being defined here as larger actions with more severe amounts of damage being done to the target. This, of course, includes arson attacks).

These actions will come in time if you and your partners stay active and build up a unity and confidence that becomes almost intuitive. Myself and the two individuals I currently work with have almost a psychic connection in which we usually know what the other two people are thinking. This will not happen overnight, and if you expect it to, you will be let down. That is why I must emphasize motivation and persistence.

It took me about two years of actions like this, and now I currently work regularly with two separate cells and a handful of other people who occasionally seek my assistance. Through persistence and perseverance you will build up a network of resources including tools, money, people, and experience.

If you tell yourself that there are no suitable targets to strike, you should stop and ask yourself if this is what you really want to be doing. If it is, just go to the nearest phone book and let your fingers do the walking. The yellow pages will give you the names, phone numbers, and addresses (and a map of the local area) of countless animal exploiters. This is an invaluable and easily accessible resource, available 24 hours a day in any city or town you may find yourself in.

In one instance, our cell drove two states away to “remodel“ an establishment profiting off of animals‘ deaths. Once there however, we realized this would not be possible. Instead of going home disappointed, we simply went to the nearest pay phone and let our fingers do the walking. Before we left that state, one animal abuse establishment had been completely destroyed!