Jeff De la Rosa, 52, the man whose Internet pleas to “Save Stu,” a Pit Bull impounded by Los Angeles Animal Services in 2005, made him briefly the hero of animal activists all over the world, was found dead in his ramshackle Echo Park house on January 31, 2013.
The coroner states that LA Police Department officers entered the house at 5:00 p.m. and found his body as indicated in a snail-mail letter sent to an unknown number of recipients by De la Rosa, advising them that he would not be alive when they received it. He was officially declared dead at 6:00 p.m., although the coroner states the actual time of death was 24 to 48 hours earlier.
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The intended method of death--cyanide--was also described in detail by De la Rosa but must be officially confirmed by the Coroner. If he followed his own plan, De la Rosa probably died in peace—something many in the Los Angeles and wider animal-welfare movement did not have while he was alive.
DE LA ROSA AND “STU”
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There's no specific date when Jeff De la Rosa officially entered the Los Angeles animal scene, but he became very vocal and gained a rather questionable prominence suddenly during 2009. He claimed he was a lighting technician with major Hollywood studios until he was laid off during the Screen Actor Guild’s Strike in 2008. He also claimed to be a dog trainer, although he seemed to have no prior experience with animals.
Except for a couple of brief film location gigs, he never returned to his regular work after the strike, according to personal conversations with him, and, instead, devoted himself to soliciting emotional, written and financial support, mainly from sympathetic but cash-strapped animal rescuers worldwide.
His mission was to save a Pit Bull, named “Stu”, whom he claimed to have rescued from the streets during a film shoot. Stu had been deemed dangerous and impounded by Los Angeles Animal Services and was facing euthanasia.
De la Rosa posted “Save Stu” messages on blogs and websites throughout the Internet world, similar to this one on his Twitter account: “My dog Stu has been imprisoned by LA Animal Services for 5 years. Help bring him home, please. Los Angeles, CA”
Soon he began to do his own blogging and to develop various relationships within animal-rescue organizations--many of which did not end well.
BACKGROUND OF “SAVE STU”
Here is a brief explanation of why Stu was removed from De la Rosa’s possession by LA Animal Services in 2005. De la Rosa had two dogs—an older female Shepherd Mix, named Maeve, and Stu, the rescued Pit Bull. Maeve attacked and seriously injured another dog, so LAAS conducted a hearing for a potentially dangerous dog designation and imposed terms and conditions that included that both dogs must be under De la Rosa’s control at all times when they were around another person or in public.
De la Rosa took a trip out of state and left both dogs with a young woman he said was his “girlfriend.” During that time, Stu bit her and L.A. Animal Services impounded both dogs, later releasing Maeve back to De la Rosa. (Those who are familiar with this case will realize that much is being omitted, but the entire story is easily available on the Internet.)
There were some procedural errors on the part of L.A. Animal Services which allowed Jeff De la Rosa to gain attention to the case and pursue administrative remedies and then actually have the case heard by the Appellate Court. In the meantime, Stu remained impounded by the City for over five years, but his life was spared and his remaining years were spent at a well-respected boarding facility, where De la Rosa reportedly visited him only once.
THE RISE OF A “SAVIOR”
Unknown in animal circles until Stu attacked his girlfriend and was impounded in 2005, De la Rosa gained almost worldwide status as a “savior” when he launched a campaign to regain possession of Stu--with few, if any, questions asked about the merit of “freeing” a dangerous dog.
He convinced local animal activists and the international dog community to join his efforts by Internet to first “Save Stu” (from euthanasia) and later “Free Stu” (return him to De la Rosa); and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of instantly sympathetic and incensed souls responded.
Emotional activists all over the world jumped on the Internet bandwagon and threatened, wept and grieved over the unfair treatment of Stu and also of Jeff De la Rosa by L. A. Animal Services. But, one by one, they became disillusioned regarding Jeff De la Rosa’s sincerity and his treatment of animals. There were also other issues that began to arise.
Dogkisser.blog.com, apparently written by a woman in Nova Scotia, tells Jeff De la Rosa’s story better than any narrative. Here is much of the posting on March 13, 2010. Some names and other information has been omitted, but the entire blog may be read at the link below.
“Last January…brought a man by the name of Jeff de la Rosa into my life. He had a dog named Stu who had been impounded in Los Angeles for 4 years…he felt that Stu had been seized illegally and he had dedicated his life to freeing Stu - and he had been using the internet and the international dog community to try and do that.
“For some reason Jeff decided to focus on me and became very abusive towards me, leaving numerous comments to my blog - which I never published because they were personal attacks against me - threatening me personally - even going so far as to create what he called a "parody" blog of this blog - calling it "Me and my big fat mouth" - saying things like - "Joan Sinden will not be allowed to continue to exert her perceived power over anyone, ever again." and "Check your doorstep, your lawsuit should be there any day now. Cretin. Yes, this is proper writing. It's called "style" and is not to be confused with poor English and worse grammar. The difference here, Joanie baby, is that our Joan posts ALL comments with no fascist "moderating" of dissenting opinions."
“The man has some issues. In July, 2009 the issue of his dog Stu was finally resolved…and Jeff lost his fight to have the dog returned to him, and because of some other legal problems - including punching the owner of a rescue called "Barks of Love" in the face - his harassment of me seemed to stop. I figured he had moved on to someone else somewhere else on the internet.
“This morning he left 3 new comments on my blog that have compelled me to make this blog post - because I want it written down somewhere publicly about him that he has been harassing me and threatening me.
“I've never worried about him before because he's always been in Los Angeles - way on the other side of the continent, but this morning I got some comments from him that have scared me. And they say -
"Taking a trip. You might want to remove your inaccurate posts. Turns out I can make a complaint in your courts ...even as an American. "
The fact that he says he's "taking a trip" - and that he's threatening he might be coming to Nova Scotia - is to me a deliberate attempt to threaten me I believe.
And I am using this blog post to call him out and say that I will not be threatened by him in silence any longer. I have taken it from him since January, 2009 - and women around North America have taken it from him - probably for many years - but I am not one of those women, sorry Jeff.
“If you come here and you approach me or one of my dogs or family, there will be consequences.” http://dogkisser.blogspot.com/2010/03/jeff-de-la-rosa.html
DE LA ROSA – VICTIM OR BULLY?
De la Rosa’s cyber-bullying on dogkisser.com mirrors the experience of many who tried to help him. Jeff De la Rosa became, to some extent, a victim of the false sense of empowerment that was granted to him by the thousands of non-questioning (mostly female) followers who search the Internet for petitions against perceived injustice and to join in sending insulting and—yes, sometimes even threatening-- e-blasts to authority figures from the anonymity of a computer.
Here are just two of the comments that were received on one of Jeff’s appeals to “Save Stu,” probably by people who never met him but willingly succumbed to his claims of persecution by animal control, rather than consider the fact that the agency believed it was not in the best interest of Stu—or any potential victims that he might harm if he were returned to De la Rosa.
Urgent Help is Still Need
Please don't let Stu be killed after 4 years in confinement just for using his instincts as a dog in pain, when he should have never gotten condemned in the first place because of countless unethical and criminal acts on the part of city servants. Please help.
… I'm praying for your situation and trying to get the word out for ALL to help. This upsets me you had to go thru this for the last 4 years. Doesn't make any sense...
Jeff had become their idol, their “savior.” He fell from grace for some because his methods were abusive and there were questions about animals in his care, not because his mission was a fabrication. In fact, there are those who, several days after his death, are already elevating him to martyrdom on the Internet and claiming that Jeff died of a broken heart over the loss of Stu.
SPLIT PERSONALITY OR GOOD ACTOR?
Jeff De la Rosa was a brilliant, and initially charming, man with a seemingly split personality. In 2009 he presented an appeal before the Second Appellate District Court to the decision by the Animal Services Commissioners that Stu was a “dangerous animal.” and did so as eloquently as any seasoned attorney, even though he lost. .
But from his vantage place behind a computer, for no obvious reason and with total disregard for common decency and libel laws, he would savagely attack and even threaten total strangers and former friends who tried to help him.
WHY WRITE ABOUT JEFF DE LA ROSA?
It is important to write about facts, so that those who may hear distorted versions of Jeff De la Rosa death will know the truth. If you have not heard of his demise at all, and have felt threatened or in fear that Jeff would at any time suddenly launch a new attack, you can now have closure, knowing that it is over.
It is important to expose the issues involved in Jeff De la Rosa’s animal “activism” so that, hopefully, those who care about animals will begin to take responsibility and thought before joining in opposition or support of any Internet protest or cause—or person--just because it sounds worthy. Otherwise you may find yourself guilty of helping the abuser, rather than the rescuer.
It is important to read this so that in a moment of outrage and passion over some unexamined issue, you will remember how much irreparable damage can be done to others merely by a few untrue, hateful or hurtful words posted forever in cyberspace.
And, just in case you are wondering, Jeff De la Rosa’s letter announcing his intention to end of his life contained no apologies, regret or remorse.
Links to the above: