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Butcher shop owner says he’s getting harassed by vegans online

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BELLEVUE – The owner of a local butcher shop says he’s being attacked online, but not by angry customers. He says it’s a group of outspoken vegans trying to promote their lifestyle by going after his business.

John Dick spent much of his childhood in his family’s butcher shop, Golden Steer Choice Meats. So he never had a problem seeing, or handling, large slabs of meat.

“To me, it’s food. We raised these animals for food,” he says. “It’s not like some of the people say we make them suffer and slaughter them for no reason.”

He knows there are vegans and animal rights activists who feel differently. But when he started a business page on Facebook a couple weeks ago, he didn’t think he would turn into a target.

“I don’t think they want a debate, I think they want to shove agenda down your throat. And that’s what they’re doing on my page.”

It started with a bunch of one-star reviews. When a friend of John’s noticed many of the reviews were coming from vegans who lived in other states, she made a comment and says she started getting harassed.

“They posted pictures of me and made fun of me,” says Kristina Foley. “When that didn’t bother me enough, they took a picture of my son and posted it.”

Foley says she tried to contact Facebook to get the picture of her son taken down, and to see if John could make sure only real customers could post reviews. But she hasn’t had much luck.

“The comments are a free for all, they can do whatever they want.”

John says his business was vandalized several times by activists in the 1990s, and he’s worried this online harassment could turn into something more serious.

“I didn’t sleep well last night, thinking am I going to go into broken windows, am I going to go into super glued locks?”

He’s filed a report with Bellevue police. But he says all he can really do is ignore the online beefs, and try to meet the demands of the customers he sees every day.

John says he thought about eliminating his business Facebook page, but he says it’s a good tool for him to connect with his real customers. He has heard from supportive vegans, who wanted him to know that the actions of a few people shouldn’t reflect on all of them.