Mayor Carlos Alvarez Besieged By Animal Rights Activists on Facebook

Carlos Alvarez already has a cantankerous billionaire -- and 95,000 equally irate voters -- trying to get him canned. Now the Miami-Dade County mayor can't even find peace through Farmville: His Facebook page is under attack by animal rights activists.

Even before 2004, when the Humane Society decreed the county shelter was in "appalling" condition, animal lovers have waged jihad on Miami-Dade Animal Services (MDAS) and a kill policy that whacks more than 20,000 animals a year.

In the last couple months, an unruly mob has found a home on the mayor's official Facebook page, where they have clamored -- in that grating and incessant way that only animal rights activists can -- for a larger Animal Services budget, new facilities, and less or no euthanasia. They've branded the agency's director, Dr. Sara Pizano, "Dr. Death." A sample from a woman named Amy Roman Restucci, sans the ubiquitous all-caps: " This is a disgrace! What is it going to take for you to respond [to] the questions asked here? We are so tired of all the lies!"

Alvarez has the personality of pickled gherkin, so we' re not surprised that he -- or an intern; a spokesperson confesses his communication department "assists" him with his Facebook page -- didn't handle the spammers with aplomb. First, many of the comments simply disappeared. Then, ten days before Christmas, Alvarez made the bizarre boast that pound dogs, though doomed to die by lethal injection, would at least go out looking like Mr. Rogers. Alvarez's status update: "All shelter dogs and puppies have blankets and sweaters (except aggressive ones and those that have removed them on their own)."

Then Alvarez got testy: "It is unfortunate that so much misinformation has been posted on FB regarding MDAS," he lamented on his page. "Dr. Pizano and her staff are doing the best they can with the resources available."

Predictably, responding only made matters worst. These days, the beleaguered mayor can't post a chirpy update bragging that the county's hotel occupancy is third in the country without two dozen commenters bombing him with demands for a no-kill shelter.

Erasing all those comments didn't work either, it appears. "We did remove posts that were vulgar, profane, or showed inappropriate pictures," allows spokesperson Victoria Mallette. "We want very much to keep the mayor's Facebook page as an outlet for two-way communication and civil dialogue."

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Gus Garcia-Roberts