Monday, February 06, 2006

Yard Nazi Wacko Pours Scalding Water on Squirrel

I swear, I’ve seen plenty of Yard Nazis. You know them. Constantly monitoring their yard for any signs of life. Because, after all, you can’t have any life in your yard – right wackos?


Myself, I love to see squirrels and birds in my yard; their presence means it’s a healthy place. It’s those who hate them that we need to be worried about. And it’s those who pour scalding water on them after trapping them that we all need to be VERY worried about. Very sick people.

Article:

Vigilantes nuts over squirrels

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Publication Northwest Herald

Date February 05, 2006

Section(s) Columnists

Page

Squirrel lovers of America, unite!

Actually, they have. And their sights are set on Crystal Lake. It all might seem a bit comical if it weren't so - well - ugly.

A crusade by some animal advocates to see that a Crystal Lake man accused of torturing a squirrel is properly punished has devolved into a mishmash of anonymous threats and worse.

John Grivas, 75, is charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty and unlawfully trapping a squirrel. Upset that squirrels were damaging his garage, Grivas in January captured one in his yard on Ellsworth Street near downtown Crystal Lake, then poured scalding water on it, authorities claim. The animal later was euthanized.

If true, it's a disturbing crime, though Grivas denies that he scalded the squirrel.

The story was reported by several news outlets, including this newspaper. Some animal-advocacy Web sites and blogs also picked up the story, including Pet-Abuse.com and The Squirrel Lover's Club site.

"This is to notify you of a particularly sadistic act that was perpetrated on a squirrel in Crystal Lake, Ill.," The Squirrel Lover's Club's founder and president, Gregg Bassett, wrote to members on www.squirrelloversforfreedom.com.

The club is operated from Elmhurst, in suburban DuPage County, but its membership includes squirrel lovers from across the country.

Bassett, 63 years old and himself the owner of a pet squirrel named Happy, urged members to complain to McHenry County authorities about the lenient treatment he believed that Grivas was receiving. He and others think Grivas should be charged with a felony, which would carry stiffer penalties upon conviction and require a psychological evaluation.

I never would characterize myself as a squirrel lover. But Bassett and his group are taking an acceptable approach to their cause. They've flooded the McHenry County state's attorney's office and the Crystal Lake Police Department with phone calls and letters. All Bassett wants is for Grivas to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Nothing wrong with that.

But as it often goes with such causes, there are those who aren't satisfied with the sensible approach. And in this case, the more extreme advocates have decided to take matters into their own hands.

Since the story appeared in the media, Grivas has received numerous threats via telephone and the mail. Someone went so far as to smash his front window, Crystal Lake Police Chief Dave Linder said.

While Grivas has been the primary target, a witness who reported him to authorities also received a threat in the mail.

"Do you think the squirrel had it rough? Wait until we get through with you," the anonymous author warned, calling the witness a "scumbag" for turning in Grivas.

Local police have been investigating the threats against both accused and accuser.

"We've had detectives looking into the letters and into the damage," Linder said. "We've put special attention on this. We've had extra patrols in that area" since the threats began.

As are most threats of this type, they all are anonymous and unlikely to result in any criminal prosecution.

Meanwhile, Grivas is scheduled to be in court Monday for a plea hearing.

If the charges are proved true, Grivas should be punished. But it should be by the criminal justice system, not vigilante extremists too cowardly to attach their names to their cause.

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