Jackie Devereaux was forced to resign after breaking the story Dog Killing Fields in Sky Valley With Devereaux's unwaivering journalistic focus in multiple editions of the Desert Star Weekly, she was able to reach animal advocates locally, nationally and internationally about the Desert Dog Death Camp where dogs have died mercilessly at the hands of Mary Bernadette Schwenn for decades - hoarding from county to county with aliases, dead animals in freezers and puppies burning to death on scorched desert land. These advocates engaged and virtually shut down Supervisor John Benoit's and District Attorney Paul Zellerbach's offices with calls, emails and political pressure to do something. The Dog Death Camp was ultimately raided and Schwenn arrested on 10 countys of felony and 20 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty but the dogs continue to languish in the shelter and others are frightened, hurt and hungry, still out in the desert.
This abuser had been reported for years, but nothing was ever done. Only after Devereux became aware of the story through local rescuer Kitty Pallesen and stood passionately firm in keeping the spotlight on the story did results begin to happen. Now Devereaux has been targeted for retaliation by Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit because of all of the political pressure she was able to garner for the dogs.
Last week Devereaux was forced to resign.
Management told her "no more animal stories."
Supervisor John Benoit, up for re-election allegedly called the Desert Star Weekly owner and said "Get Jackie Devereaux off my ass, otherwise I'll make sure you get no advertising in the Coachella Valley." Dog Killing Fields in Sky Valley garnered more internet attention than any other story in the history of the paper. As a result of Deveraux breaking the story, animal activists showed up at a County Supervisors meeting and demanded action, showing in a presentation the abuse that has been gone on for years.
Benoit turned on Devereaux when it became clear that this Dog Death Camp located in his district may harm his political plans for re-election. He became Devereaux's enemy and launched a campaign against her which ultimately cost her her job.
We need journalists like Jackie Devereaux who don't cower and who are determined to protect animals. The Desert Star Weekly has published Devereaux's animal stories for years. It is only with the recent attention on the Dog Killing Fields in Benoit's District that a mandate to stop the stories has come down form the top.
As Jackie wrote in her last editorial for the paper Freedom of Press isn't Free (see page 4) politics is standing in the way of justice for animals. While the Desert Star Weekly and elected officials may have temporarily restrained Freedom of Speech, we will not be quiet while political corruption allows animals to be in danger.
Supervisor Benoit is planning a rare Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting in the Coachella Valley on Tuesday, October 1, 2013. Please show up and help us send a clear message that elected officials have a DUTY to protect these dogs and ALL animals in Riverside County.
And, since the Desert Star Weekly is exercising restricting freedom of speech, you can keep updated on this story at a facebook page created to help the dogs:
Animals need elected officials to protect them. You are not doing a good job. Journalist Jackie Devereaux from the Desert Star Weekly was providing coverage on the Mary Bernadette Schwenn Dogs - to keep attention on this multi-county serial animal abuser and to call attention to hoarding and horrific animal abuse that has allowed to go unfettered for decades in District 4. You stopped it by applying political pressure to the paper and in turn the papers management cowered and forced Devereaux to resign. We need leaders who protect animals. Those who allow harm to be inflicted on animals are sure to let it happen to their fellow man. Silencing those who protect animals is not in the best interests of the animals. This type of quashing of freedom of speech will not be tolerated.
Keep up the great work. Look what you've accomplished!
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