Around this time, two friends who knew I loved animals and that I was a member of The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society told me I had to meet Chris De Rose. No! Animals being tortured in laboratories was not something I would ever want to deal with. Absolutely not! Just thinking about it tears my heart out. Chris De Rose, who everybody I knew seemed to know, wouldn’t leave me alone! One friend was very insistent and I had to keep reiterating there was no way that I was getting involved with the anti-vivisection movement. Gruesome experiments on animals were something I had avoided thinking about my entire life. But I was having no luck convincing him that I meant what I said. So after more of his badgering, I caved in, and figured I might as well meet Chris and get this over with once and for all. I called and set up an appointment to meet him at his apartment, where he had his office. On the way there, I steeled myself against the pictures I knew he would show me and took a deep breath as I knocked on his door.
Chris turned out to be a very handsome, dark-haired New Yorker with the distinct accent to go along with it. But I was in no mood to admire his looks and he wasted no time in expressing his passion to liberate animals in laboratories. Speaking with a deep loathing for vivisectors, he showed me pictures of tortured animals and asked how people could be capable of such cruelty. I couldn’t help cringing at the heartbreaking photos but kept looking even though I wanted to scream and cry and escape back to my car. Chris was more outwardly passionate and vocal than Paul Watson in describing his plans for achieving his goals but both were equally dedicated and focused.
Chris also showed me the logo he intended to use for his group, Last Chance for Animals; a man’s strong arms protectively holding an invisible small animal. Considering Chris’ well-built body and soft heart, I thought it a fitting symbol for his group.
As I was leaving, he expressed hope that I would join Last Chance and help him in his efforts to expose the barbaric treatment of animals in laboratories. I told him I’d think about it and left him my phone number and said he should call me when their next event was scheduled. Of course, I knew I wouldn’t be joining, but it would be so much easier to say no on the phone. I hoped no one from his organization would call me. But it wasn’t long before someone did. A girl called and informed me that they were planning a big demo at USC in a couple of weeks and they needed me to come to a training session. I thought, “training session? Who needs training to go to a protest? You go, hold signs, maybe yell a few slogans, go home, whatever it is changes or it doesn’t and that’s it. Who needs training for something like that?” I did ask the girl why and she insisted it was necessary and protesters needed to know the rules and differences in protesting and actually getting arrested. Arrested? I told the girl I thought I would be busy the day of the training so thank you but no thank you. I thought that would be the end of it.
But it wasn’t. She called again. Why not just come to the training, see what it’s all about and then decide if I want to go to the protest? I replied that I would think about it and hung up knowing I wouldn’t think about it for one more minute. So of course I did. I thought, what can it hurt to go to the training? And if I attend, maybe they’ll stop calling me. I need to get Chris De Rose off my back once and for all.
A week later I found myself in a small theater at a packed training session for a protest at USC. Chris led the meeting along with his lieutenants, Jack Carone, and Mary McDonald Lewis. All of them were incredibly knowledgeable about vivisection and how to organize a protest. They made it clear that a police officer must warn us if he is going to arrest us and if he does, do what he says and we’ll be fine. If we are going to get arrested on purpose by practicing passive resistance, that is something that is planned ahead of time. So no worries, we were not there this time to get arrested. Whew! That was a load of my mind. Wait a minute! I wasn’t going to go anyway, was I?
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