The Cold-Blooded Murder of Spitz Once Again Exposes the Horrifying, Ugly, and Utterly Appalling Truth about Not Only Shelters but Callous Owners and Phony-Baloney Animal Rights Groups as Well
"I just don't understand how they could do this to him. He was healthy. He was lovable. They just killed him."
-- Nancy Hornberger
Spitz was only doing what toms normally do but ultimately it was his scrapping and spraying that ended up costing him his life once the knackers at the Oakland County Animal Shelter (OCAS) in Auburn Hills, fifty-three kilometers north of Detroit, got their murderous hands on him. As it later was revealed, they liquidated him less than sixty minutes after he was delivered up to them on a silver platter by his totally unconscionable owner, Nancy Hornberger of Commerce Township, fifty-six kilometers northwest of Detroit.
Other than that he was fighting with her other cats and marking his territory, almost nothing else has been publicly disclosed about him. It is not even known how old he was or when he actually was killed.
"We couldn't have given that cat to another family," the shelter's Mark Newmann told WXYZ-TV of Southfield on July 3rd. (See "What Happened to Spitz the Cat?") "If that animal is adoptable we do everything we can to find that animal a loving home."
As with most things in this world, the devil is always in the details and OCAS clearly states on its web site that animals that demonstrate aggression toward other animals and humans are unadoptable. It also designates those deemed to have "behavioral, temperamental or medical characteristics" that would pose a danger to other animals, themselves, or the public to be unadoptable.
Presumably that latter definition includes spraying which was the official reason given by OCAS for killing Spitz. Even if he was not spraying, the shelter likely would have snuffed out his life for demonstrating aggression toward other cats. Thus, with two strikes against him Spitz never stood so much as a snowball's chance in Hell of making it out of OCAS alive.
For whatever it is worth, Hornberger claims that she was under the mistaken impression that the shelter planned on placing him in a home without any other cats. She apparently continued to operate under that illusion until she recently was disabused of it by the Michigan Political Action Committee for Animals (MI-PACA) of Southfield which has had OCAS in its crosshairs for at least the past two years.
Alerted by several conscientious employees to wholesale illegal killings, widespread dishonesty, and other irregularities, MI-PACA filed two requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in order to obtain data relating to the shelter's kill rate. In particular, it found that OCAS not only was killing cats like Spitz but subsequently recording their deaths as owner requested killings.
MI-PACA's findings are a little bit difficult to decipher but OCAS apparently was doing likewise to some homeless and lost animals as well. For some arcane reason, animals that are surrendered to OCAS in order to be killed are not counted in either its intake data or kill rate.
In effect, the shelter's léger de main not only expunges their cold-blooded murders from the public record but the petit fait that they ever had existed. In that respect OCAS conducts business in much the same fashion as Augusto Pinochet did when he ran Chile in that nothing is ever left behind, not even the corpses and graves of its victims.
Aside from the sheer pleasure of spilling innocent blood and the substantial savings realized in both time and money, such heinous conduct allows OCAS to boast on its web site that during the first six months of this year it released ninety per cent of the dogs that it took in and eighty per cent of the cats. That in turn translates into not only more donations but a marked increase in the number of individuals willing to volunteer their services to a shelter with such outstanding save rates.
"The game of manipulating the numbers to make a shelter's save rate appear higher than it actually is (is) beyond dishonest," MI-PACA stated July 3rd in an untitled article posted on its Facebook page. "It's a fraud upon the public."
Aside from the horrific and totally unforgivable snuffing out of so many lives, everything that OCAS trumpets itself to be now has been exposed as a blatant pack of lies. Most notably, MI-PACA was unable to locate a single document in the wealth of materials that it received under its FOIA requests that had been signed by an owner requesting that either a cat or a dog be killed.
In order to make doubly certain that it had been thorough, the advocacy group then contacted those individuals who had surrendered animals to the shelter and all of them reaffirmed that they had not signed away their companions' right to live. That, by the way, is how Hornberger belatedly found out what had become of Spitz and, since MI-PACA's investigation took time to complete, it would seem logical that Spitz was killed as far back as perhaps one or two years ago.
"I just don't understand how they could do this to him," she complained to WXYZ-TV. "He was healthy. He was lovable. They just killed him."
To be perfectly frank about the matter, her incredulity simply is not believable. Unless she has been living in a vacuum, she is every bit as acutely aware as everyone else on this planet that all shelters are garishly misnomered Auschwitzes and Buchenwalds for companion animals.
She also undoubtedly was aware that with two strikes already against him that Spitz was doomed from the very moment that she surrendered him. At the very least she should have kept her trap shut about his aggressive tendencies and overly active bladder and that way perhaps the shelter would have at least put him up for adoption.
"We never, in any way, requested that (killing)," she further argued to WXYZ-TV. "Why would I pack up all his food, his toys, and a two-page letter for the new owners if I wanted him euthanized?"
That rejoinder is not nearly as convincing as she would have the world to believe. For instance, she could have been so fed up with Spitz that she could not stomach having any reminders of him lying around her house.
That line of reasoning is supported by the disturbing fact that she apparently never once checked back with the shelter in order to determine what ultimately had become of him. Also, there is a good chance that she would have received a reply to her letter if Spitz had secured a new home but the absence of such a notification does not seem to have troubled her.
In spite of all of that, Hornberger has the audacity to claim that she would have acted differently if she only had known beforehand of OCAS' underhanded ways. "I would have walked out with him in my arms and he would be alive today," she pledged to WXYZ-TV.
Her cardinal sin was not in failing to walk out with Spitz but rather in walking in with him in the first place. In particular, spraying and fighting are not valid reasons for abandoning a cat.
As per usual, both WXYZ-TV and MI-PACA have disclosed to the public only what they feel it should know and nothing more. For example, although it is not known how many cats that Hornberger owned at that time the circumstantial evidence tends to suggest that she had a clowder of both males and females that had not been sterilized.
Usually it is intact males doing battle over fertile females that causes all the trouble and the simple solution to that dilemma is to sterilize the entire lot of them. If that, for whatever reason, is not a viable option other means then must be improvised.
For instance, females can be segregated in cages when they are in estrus and water guns can sometimes be successfully employed in order to separate males locked in mortal combat. When that does not work, however, they must be forcibly pulled apart and that can be dangerous, especially if an owner is adverse to being inadvertently scratched.
Males additionally can inflict severe damage on females by forcibly pulling out the fur from around their necks. Even if there is not any bloodshed, the noise that mating cats make and the damage that they are capable of doing to a house are enough to drive an individual crazy.
The best reason of all for altering males is that it usually, but not always, curbs their tendency to roam which not only can be dangerous for them but heartbreaking for their owners. Since toms are capable of smelling a female in estrus for miles, that often prompts them to blindly attempt to cross busy thoroughfares and that in turn makes them easy prey for motorists who specialize in deliberately running down and killing them.
Anyone who ever has lost a loving tom to one of those cretins will be more than glad to either neuter or at least confine all other males in the future. The love that they so freely lavish upon their owners is truly something special and irreplaceable.
Cat piss, on the other hand, is rather benign and easily cleaned up. In fact, some individuals can hardly even smell it at all whereas others, cat-haters for sure, claim to be able to detect its presence in an hermetically sealed Prince Albert tin rusting on the floor of the Amazon from as far away as the North Pole!
Needless to say, anyone adverse to occasionally cleaning up a little urine and poop does not have any business owning a cat in the first place. A pet rock would be better suited to the demands of their proboscises, wallets, and energy levels.
It certainly appears that Hornberger had her hands full with Spitz but her decision to fob him off on OCAS was unforgivable. Even if against all odds he had somehow managed to have gotten out alive, incarcerating a cat even for a brief period of time in a cage at a smelly and disease-ridden shelter run by a bloodthirsty gang of ruthless and psychopathic mass murderers is unconscionable.
Worst of all, cats are totally helpless under such no-win circumstances. In Sptiz's case, he sans doute was aware that he was about to be killed and he surely must have been terrified out of his mind. No one but a callous monster like Hornberger ever would subject a defenseless cat to such a hellish death.
"Never take any animal to the Oakland County Pet Adoption Center (shelter) on Brown Road in Auburn Hills," MI-PACA tardily declared in the July 3rd posting on its Facebook page cited supra. "Not ever. Not for any reason."
Surprisingly enough, however, at the top of the very same article it declares that "animal shelters are supposed to be safe havens for lost pets and a second chance for pets being given up by their owners, and some are, but that's sadly not the case in Oakland County." In making such an utterly asinine proclamation as that MI-PACA is guilty of perpetuating the same lies as those uttered by Hornberger.
Animal shelters never have been and, never will be, anything other than death camps and anyone who attempts to pass them off to the gullible as "safe havens" is deserving of a good public thrashing. Cats and dogs continue to be exterminated in the tens of millions each year at these wretched institutions but the charade itself nevertheless continues to have a life of its own thanks to the appalling complicity of individuals like Hornberger and groups like MI-PACA.
The tawdry relationship that exists between them and the public is reminiscent of what goes on at "hitters" bars where men and women on the make engage freely in the rituals of romance when all that they really care about is getting laid. Likewise, cat and dog owners simply want to be free of their solemn moral obligations to their companions and shelter personnel, fully cognizant of that reality, give them reassuring pats on the back and tell them that everything is going to be just fine.
Like fornicators on the prowl for a little slap and tickle, individuals like Hornberger know only too well that it is all a lie; they simply do not care. Above all, the cold, naked truth is the last thing on earth that they ever want to hear.
In a case that bears a striking resemblance to what happened to Spitz, Donna Pruitt of Sugar Land, forty kilometers southwest of Houston, dropped off two kittens and $20 in order to purchase food for them at Animal Control on July 8, 2010. When she returned less than three hours later in order to retrieve her pet carrier she was informed that the kittens had been liquidated almost as soon as she was out the front door.
"They had my phone number, as I had left it when I dropped the kittens off. They had our $20," she related to The Fort Bend Star on July 14, 2010. (See "Baby Kittens Put to Sleep in Error.") "Shouldn't that have bought me an explanation or at least a call before they murdered the kittens?"
As things turned out, her munificence failed to buy her any consideration whatsoever and contributed absolutely nothing toward prolonging the kittens' lives. It is not even known if Animal Control had the decency to return her Andy Jack. In Hornberger's case, it is pretty much a foregone conclusion that Spitz's food and toys never were returned to her.
Unlike Hornberger, Pruitt had some reason to trust Animal Control in that its own internal procedures call for it not only to hold all animals that it impounds for seventy-two hours but, much more importantly, to give their previous owners an opportunity to reclaim them before killing them. In the end, however, it did not make any difference in that the kittens lasted only slightly less than two hours longer than did Spitz.
|Freckles, Singed, Dehydrated, and Hungry, but Alive|
By contrast, not only have the atrocities been going on for a very long time at OCAS but, worst still, MI-PACA has been fully cognizant of that fact. "We come to you on the local issue of helpless animals in shelters being killed at an alarming rate," Rick Gladstone of Oakland Animal Advocates, the forerunner of MI-PACA, told The Oakland Press of Pontiac on July 21, 2013. (See "Animal Advocates Criticize Kill Rate at Oakland County Animal Control Shelter.") "All life is precious. I ask that the animal guidelines for these shelters (sic) be enhanced and enforced with more adoptive efforts."
In addition to killing off domesticated cats like Spitz and lying about their foul deeds, OCAS does a wholesale business liquidating en masse homeless ones. "We believe some animals (including homeless cats) are too aggressive to be put in homes...the same goes for suffering (or sick) animals," the shelter's head commandant Bob Gatt declared to The Oakland Press. "Those are humanely euthanized."
Gatt's slaughter of homeless cats is fully supported by George Miller of the county's health department who, not surprisingly, considers himself to be one of PETA's anointed savants. "Even PETA does not support the TNR program," he bellowed with pride to The Oakland Press. "Even they realize that the feral cat population has to be controlled."
That has not deterred Courtney Protz-Sanders of MI-PACA from lobbying Oakland County to adopt TNR. "Research has shown that feral cats do not spread disease, yet that's the excuse given by the shelter to justify their (sic) policy. It's archaic," she told The Oakland Press in response to Gatt's and Miller's outrageous lies. "It's a simple solution: don't accept feral cats into the shelter. Stop using my tax dollars to kill healthy community cats which serve a purpose, keep the rodent population down and it's impossible to eradicate them, anyway."
Although it is not known what private initiatives have been undertaken, Oakland County is yet to endorse TNR and as a result OCAS continues to liquidate hundreds, and more likely thousands, of homeless cats each year. A lack of money is not the problem in that it is one of the most affluent areas of the country with a median household income of $61,607.
Its shabby and bedraggled behemoth to the south, Detroit, may be bankrupt and its denizens smelly and dirty because they are too cheap to pay their $60 per month water bills but Oakland County is rolling in dough. Unfortunately, short arms are known to usually accompany deep pockets and ailurophobia is a plague that recognizes no boundaries, geographical, financial, or otherwise.
The problems associated with shelters and Animal Control officers cooking the books in regard to the number of cats and dogs that they kill each day is far more complex than even MI-PACA is willing to acknowledge. First and foremost, many cats and dogs and killed in the field and therefore never even make it to shelters.
For example, police officers gun down a large number of animals in the street and then casually toss their exsanguinated corpses in the trash. Their murders usually are not recorded anywhere and they certainly are not reflected in the kill rates disclosed by shelters. (See Cat Defender post of September 27, 2014 entitled "Falsely Branded as Being Rabid by a Cat-Hater, an Animal Control Officer, and the Gorham Police Department, Clark Is Hounded Down and Blasted with a Shotgun.")
Animal Control officers, many of whom also double as police officers, commit the same heinous crimes with impunity. (See WTSP-TV of Tampa, July 10, 2013, "Pasco County Kills Family Cat Before It Arrives at Shelter" and The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, June 11, 2013, "North Ridgeville Clears Humane Officer of Wrongdoing for Killing Feral Kittens but Animal Groups Want Action.")
In addition to liquidating close to ninety-eight per cent of the companion animals that it impounds at its shelter in Norfolk, PETA also takes in thousands more from other shelters under the pretense of finding homes for them only to turn around and whack them. (See Cat Defender posts of January 29, 2007 and February 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in a North Carolina Courtroom" and "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs.")
As if all of that were not reprehensible enough, the phony-baloney charity has death squads that sour the streets for both homeless cats and domesticated dogs to steal and kill. (See Cat Defender post of October 7, 2011 entitled "PETA Traps and Kills a Cat and Then Shamelessly Goes Online in Order to Brag about Its Criminal and Foul Deed" and The Virginian Pilot of Norfolk, December 1, 2014, "Man Says PETA Took His Dog from Front Porch, Killed Her.")
Some shelters, such as the Valley Oak SPCA in Visalia, California, and the Toronto Humane Society, callously allow cats to die in traps and it is doubtful that those deaths are included in their kill rates. (See Cat Defender post of August 23, 2010 entitled "Valley Oak SPCA Kills a Cat by Allowing It to Languish in the Heat in an Unattended Trap for Five Days at the Tulare County Courthouse" and the Toronto Star, November 28, 2009, "Humane Society: 'It Seems Like a House of Horrors'.")
Leaving cats to rot in unattended traps is far from being the only way that shelters thoughtlessly kill them and other animals. For instance during the summer of 2006, Animal Control officer Michelle A. Mulverhill went on a bender and left the animals under her supervision at a shelter in Oxford, Massachusetts, to fend for themselves. Even more shocking, oversight at the shelter was so lax that her dereliction of duty went unnoticed by town officials for more than two weeks! (See Cat Defender post of August 31, 2006 entitled "Animal Control Officer Goes on a Drunken Binge and Leaves Four Cats and a Dog to Die of Thirst, Hunger, and Heat at a Massachusetts Shelter.")
It is not well-publicized but in addition to being incubators of disease some shelters also are firetraps. (See Cat Defender post of April 3, 2007 entitled "Fires at Private Shelters Claim the Lives of More Than Two Dozen Cats in Connecticut.")
In a gut-wrenching example of the massive toll in lives that fires can take, only four of thirty-seven cats that were incarcerated at the Knox-Whitley County Animal Shelter in Rockholds, Kentucky, made it out alive when an unexplained conflagration broke out at the facility on November 29, 2013. Even more reprehensibly, a one-year-old cat named Freckles who had somehow survived the blaze was not found until a week later and even then it was not by shelter personnel but rather an insurance investigator. Staffers simply had written her off for dead without even bothering to look for her. (See WBIR-TV of Knoxville, articles dated December 2, 2013 and December 6, 2013 and entitled, respectively, "Animal Shelter Looking for Temporary Home after Devastating Fire" and "Cat Found Alive in Rubble One Week after Animal Shelter Fire.")
"Having her here is just wonderful, all of our hearts are filled with joy," Ashley Holder of the Lexington Humane Society, which took in Freckles, told WKYT-TV of Lexington on December 5, 2013. (See "Cat Pulled from the Rubble of Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter.") "We are so glad that she made it through this devastating time."
It also is doubtful that shelters include in their kill rates the exorbitant number of kittens that they systematically exterminate each spring and autumn. That is because even those facilities that are located in small communities can be inundated with hundreds, if not indeed thousands, of them and yet the public is seldom informed as to their final disposition. (See Cat Defender post of July 7, 2012 entitled "NBC Philadelphia Conspires with a Virulent Cat-Hater and an Exterminator in Order to Have Six Newborn and Totally Innocent Kittens Killed in Southern New Jersey.")
|Lewis Brooks Patterson|
Topping off this entire sorry matter, some shelters categorically refuse to relinquish custody of condemned animals to individuals and rescue groups that are willing to take them. (See Cat Defender post of June 15, 2010 entitled "Bay City Shelter Murders a Six-Week-Old Kitten with a Common Cold Despite Several Individuals Having Offered to Give It a Permanent Home.")
Although MI-PACA is to be commended for endorsing TNR, its ringing, unqualified endorsement of no-kill on its Facebook page is indefensible. That is because the ruses and deceptions in situ at conventional shelters like OCAS and Sugar Land pale in comparison with the dodges, double-talk, and outright lies that plague the so-called no-kill movement. (See the Akron Beacon-Journal, February 23, 2008, "'No-Kill' Definition Will Vary at Shelters.")
When all is said and done, however, a shelter is still a death house regardless of whatever it chooses to call itself. (See Cat Defender posts of July 29, 2010 and October 23, 2012 entitled, respectively, "Benicia Vallejo Humane Society Is Outsourcing the Mass Killing of Kittens and Cats All the While Masquerading as a No-Kill Shelter" and "A Supposedly No-Kill Operation in Marblehead Betrays Sally and Snuffs Out Her Life Instead of Providing Her with a Home and Veterinary Care," plus the Alamogordo Daily News, November 7, 2009, "Kitty City Near La Luz Provides Haven for Felines Facing Euthanasia.")
Shelters justifiably receive a lion's share of the blame for slaughtering animals but they are far from being alone in that endeavor in that veterinarians also liquidate their fair share of them as well. Most damning of all, they kill off thousands of companion animals each year at the behest of their unconscionable owners.
The only difference between what they do and what is being done at shelters is that they are compensated for their dastardly deeds by private individuals as opposed to the government which funds the killings that take place at shelters. (See Cat Defender posts of January 11, 2012, December 22, 2011, and July 28, 2011 entitled, respectively, "A Deadly Intrigue Concocted by a Thief, a Shelter, and a Veterinary Chain Costs Ginger the Continued Enjoyment of His Golden Years," "Rogue TNR Practitioner and Three Unscrupulous Veterinarians Kill at Least Sixty-Two Cats with the Complicity of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals," and "Tammy and Maddy Are Forced to Pay the Ultimate Price after Their Owner and an Incompetent Veterinarian Elect to Play Russian Roulette with Their Lives.")
In addition to their contract killings, veterinarians maim and ruin the lives of scores of other animals through their sheer incompetence. (See Cat Defender posts of January 19, 2012, July 2, 2010, and June 17, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Veterinary Watchdog Group Not Only Allows an Incompetent Substitute Practitioner to Get Away with Killing Junior but Scolds His Owner for Complaining," "Lexi Was By No Means the First Cat to Be Lost by Woosehill Vets Any More Than Angel Was Their Last Victim of a Botched Sterilization," and "Veterinarian Gets Away with Almost Killing Felix but Is Nailed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for Not Paying Her Dues.")
The large number of animals that these bloodsuckers kill through both their mercenary practices and incompetence is surpassed only by those that they condemn to premature graves through their steadfast refusal to treat them because they either are homeless or their owners are unwilling to pony up the exorbitant fees that they demand for their services. (See Cat Defender post of March 19, 2014 entitled "Cheap and Greedy Moral Degenerates at PennVet Extend Their Warmest Christmas Greetings to an Impecunious, but Preeminently Treatable, Cat Via a Jab of Sodium Pentobarbital.")
As it should be obvious by now, the current shelter system cannot be reformed to any significant degree that is going to have much of a positive impact upon the lives of companion animals. For its part, MI-PACA nonetheless insists upon continuing to blame the senseless killings and deceptive practices at OCAS on Gatt and he certainly fits the bill of an old political hack to a tee. Not only is he bereft of so much as a jot of experience in the animal welfare field but he is a serial multiple-dipper at the public trough as well.
For example, in addition to his sinecure at OCAS, he also serves as mayor of Novi, a town of fifty-five-thousand souls located forty-six kilometers northwest of Detroit. The record is unclear but he possibly could be collecting a third welfare check from the taxpayers in his role as head of the Novi City Council.
Before coming to OCAS, Gatt spent twenty-seven years as a police officer in Novi and he followed that up with ten years in the county's prison system. Quite obviously he needs to go and since he has been caught falsifying records at OCAS and then submitting them to the state department of agriculture it is conceivable that he could be headed back to the correctional system but this time around it will not be as either a supervisor or a paid employee.
MI-PACA also singles out Gatt's boss, County Executive Lewis Brooks Patterson, for being complicit in his underling's crimes. Having first assumed office in 1992, it likewise is high time that he, too, was given his walking papers by either the courts or the voters. That is going to be difficult to accomplish, however, in that even the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse might not be any match for that pair of entrenched public freeloaders.
Even more distressingly, it is doubtful that conditions would improve all that greatly at OCAS even if they were removed from office. That is because the majority of the top managerial positions in both Animal Control and shelters go to old political hacks who care only about collecting another welfare check and absolutely nothing about the well-being of the animals entrusted to their care.
As such they are not about to make waves by either demanding additional funding or introducing radical policies that would alter the status quo by actually saving lives. Au contraire, the only purpose that they serve is to perpetuate the killings, lies, and deceptions.
The only recent noteworthy development in animal welfare has been the successful début of TNR which is wholly funded and sustained by volunteers. The lesson to be learned from its staggering success is that the only way that the atrocities which take place at shelters can be stopped is through private initiatives. The logical short-cut would be the enactment of a law that outlawed the killing and abuse of all animals under all circumstances but that is not about to happen in a million years.
Therefore in order to stop at least some of the carnage it is imperative that sterilization services be offered to one and all on demand. Penny-ante efforts such as Spay Day, PetSmart's grants, and Andy Kaplan's Toby Project are so woefully inadequate as to be laughable.
Before any of that is even remotely feasible there must be an end once and for all time to the lies and double-talk. Most important of all, shelters not only need to be recognized as death camps but renamed accordingly.
Secondly, no one should be allowed to get away with sugarcoating premeditated murder by using such patented falsehoods as euthanasia, put down, crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and gone to kitty heaven. Thirdly, the term no-kill has been so abused and corrupted that nothing short of striking it from the English lexicon will suffice in order to repair the damage that has been done in its name.
Above all, cat owners like Hornberger and advocacy groups like MI-PACA need to stop lying to both themselves and the public. If they are unwilling to do even that much, they are not all that much of an improvement over the Gatts and Pattersons that they excoriate.
Rather than continuing to waste precious time scrapping with sticks-in-the-mud like Gatt and Patterson, MI-PACA would be better off borrowing a page from the playbook of TNR practitioners and instead purchasing a few acres of land and constructing a legitimate sanctuary that one day, hopefully, would put OCAS out of business. It is strongly suspected, however, that it is too lazy and cheap to do even that much for the tens of thousands of cats and dogs that are destined, like handsome Spitz, to continue to follow the well-trodden cul-de-sac that leads to the door of OCAS's extermination factory.
Photos: WXYZ-TV (Spitz), City of Novi (Gatt), Emily Tolliver of the Lexington Humane Society (Freckles), and Kimberly P. Mitchell of the Detroit Free Press (Patterson).