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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Idaho Humane Society Lends Its Support to the Demolition of a Derelict Seed Store That Claims the Lives of Dozens of Cats

Many people live under the mistaken impression that capitalists, ailurophobes, and bird-lovers are all the humans that cats have to fear in this world but that is a shortsighted view. Quite often cat-haters dressed up in the clothing of animal protectors do far greater harm to "nature's masterpieces," as da Vinci once called them, than do these other groups.

A good case in point was the recent decision of the Idaho Humane Society (IHS) to assist a wrecking crew in bringing down a vacant seed store in downtown Meridian (15 kilometers outside of Boise) on top of dozens of feral cats who had been subsisting there on a rodent population drawn to the building by the presence of leftover grain. Although neither the IHS nor the local media are willing to reveal how many cats were killed when the structure was demolished on March 21st, it is estimated that at least sixteen cats -- and probably a lot more! -- were crushed to death.

Even IHS executive director Jeff Rosenthal told the Idaho Statesman on March 20th, "You'd hope that the cats would run away when the work starts, but they'll probably just get under things and hide. A lot of animals are likely to be killed. There's no good solution." (See "Deadline Looms for Feral Cats in Building.")

To their credit, volunteers from the IHS did trap twenty-two cats (See photo above) outside the old Double D Feed and Seed building at 614 North Main Street. All of them have since been sterilized and the IHS has pledged to socialize and adopt out those capable of being domesticated and to find homes in barns for the remainder. Since many of the females rescued were in a family way, they were, presumably, aborted.

The manner in which the IHS conspired with the developers to do in the cats is another classic example of how thoroughly corrupt and fascist most -- but certainly not all -- animal protection leagues are in practice. First of all, by alleging that the building was to rickety for their volunteers to go inside, this gave the IHS a good excuse to limit its rescue operation to the area outside the building. This was not only cowardly but irresponsible as well. Any animal rescuer unwilling to put either his or her life on the line is a fraud. Can anyone imagine any fireman, policeman, or EMS worker refusing to provide assistance to those in danger just because it might put his or her life in jeopardy? The IHS' reasoning is preposterous.

Even more blameworthy was its decision to limit its rescue effort to forty-eight hours because it did not want to wait around while more kittens came into this world. "It would be nice to give people more time to catch the cats, but it's kitten season so every day that goes by there's likely to be more kittens," the merciless and calculating Rosenthal told the Idaho Statesman in the article cited supra. That sure is some attitude for a humane society to adopt!

The problem would never have arisen in the first place if the city had used its power of eminent domain to seize and then raze the building. At the very least it should have required the landlord to have removed the grain. Actually, the city is awfully lucky that the cats took up residence in the building and therefore kept the rodent population in check for all these years. If the city had had an ounce of gratitude it would have presented the building to the cats as a reward for their service to the public.

Of more immediate concern is the fate of those cats who were scattered when the building came tumbling down. Most likely they will be picked up on the street by either Animal Control or the IHS and exterminated. Not only should any such plan be blocked but the IHS should be required to verify that it has indeed found homes for the twenty-two cats that it trapped and not resorted to the expediency of extermination. Contrary to Rosenthal's lies, the IHS and other humane organizations have a potpourri of options available to them other than extermination when dealing with homeless cats.

While the cats in Meridian were being dispossessed, three-dozen felines in Brockton, Massachusetts (19 kilometers outside of Boston) were being trapped and removed from a publicly-financed old folks' home known as the Bel-Air Towers Apartment Complex. The cats, such as the one on death row shown above, were shipped to a shelter run by the Massachusetts SPCA where they will be exterminated if homes cannot be found for them in an expeditious manner.

The SPCA wanted to sterilize the felines and return them to the housing project to live out their short lives but the city has steadfastly refused to allow them to return. Jamie Segel of the SPCA told the Boston Herald on March 23rd that "Killing a colony of feral cats is like putting up a big vacant sign for other cats to move in. It's a short-term solution." (See "City Kitty Sweep Angers Activists.") That may very well be true but it is also highly probable that the inveterate ailurophobes in the Brockton Housing Authority will simply have any newcomers trapped and removed to shelters for extermination.

In the final analysis, there may not be much that the SPCA can do about the housing authority's edict, but that certainly does not mean that it has to exterminate the cats; au contraire, it should provide them with food and shelter for however long it takes to find them new homes.

Both the Brockton and Meridian cases highlight the petit fait that most public officials and animal protection personnel are not only morally bankrupt but totally unwilling to deal with feral cats in an intelligent and humane manner. The lives of all cats are precious and none of them should ever be harmed in any way. Both governments and animal rights groups have plenty of money and they should accordingly use their resources to find humane solutions for homeless cats. Of course, it is always cheaper, easier, and more fun for individuals without consciences to simply embark upon killing sprees.

Photos: KBCI, Channel 2, Boise (Meridian cats) and John Wilcox of the Boston Herald (Brockton cat).

Monday, March 27, 2006

Six Protesters Arrested as Baby Seal Slaughter Gets Under Way in Canada

The carnage has begun once again. In what is arguably the world's most gruesome example of man's cruelty and exploitation of animals, Canada's annual harp seal hunt got underway Saturday in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Bloodthirsty, maniacal seal hunters with dollar signs flashing in their dilated pupils descended upon baby harp seals as young as twelve-days old and clubbed them to death with hakapicks (ice picks mounted on wooden clubs). (See photo above.)

Soon the ice floes turned to crimson with the blood of innocent seals (See photo below) whose only offense was to be worth more dead than alive to certain monsters who strut around on two legs. In the first two days of the hunt, 3,000-4,000 seals have already been exterminated. A total of ninety-one-thousand seals will be slaughtered in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this week and next before the hunt moves to the north coast of Newfoundland and Labrador on April 4th where an additional 224,000 seals will be killed.

Actually, the hunt has been under way since November 15th of last year when aboriginal and Inuit sealers in the Yukon Territories, the Arctic Ocean, and off Canada's East Coast inaugurated the killing spree. When the hunt finally ends, 325,000 seals will have been slaughtered which will bring the total since 2004 to more than one million.

Along with the commencement of the hunt came the inevitable violent clashes between the murderers and animal rights activists. On Sunday, six members of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) were arrested by Canadian officials when they allegedly ventured too close to the sealers. A cameraman for Reuters who was on an inflatable raft with the team from the HSUS was also detained.

On Saturday, the hunters threw pieces of dead seals at the protesters and on Sunday they rammed their boat (See photo below). As has been the case in past years, the Canadian authorities are once again following a policy whereby they turn a blind eye to the blatantly criminal activities of the hunters while at the same time going out of their way to arrest the peaceful protesters without cause. If this one-sided policy is not changed, there are likely going to be human fatalities.

While Canadian officials lamely argue that the mass murders are necessary in order to keep the seal population in check, the real motivation behind the hunt is, of course, money. The seals are exterminated primarily for their pelts which are worth about $70 apiece to fashion designers in Norway, China, and Russia. The take this year is expected to be in excess of $14.5 million which will be divided amongst the approximately 4,000 commercial sealers participating in the carnage. Although the hunters claim that they desperately need this blood money in order to make ends meet, in reality it accounts for less than five per cent of their total annual income.

Because of global warming, water temperatures off of Canada are about 4.5 degrees Celsius warmer than in past years and this is causing the ice floes to melt. As the result, some of the baby seals are drowning in the icy waters before they are old enough to swim and thus depriving the sealers of their pelts. This is also forcing the hunters to shoot some of the seals from boats as opposed to bludgeoning them to death on the ice floes with hakapicks.

Although the sealers and the politicians who protect them contend that the hunt is humane, they are all inveterate liars and this is proven by photographs, videos, and eyewitness accounts. "I routinely witness conscious seals dragged across the ice with boathooks, wounded seals left to choke on their own blood, and seals being skinned alive," (See photo of a seal carcass below) Rebecca Aldworth of the HSUS told Reuters on March 3rd. (See "Rocker McCartney Takes to Ice to Save Canada Seals.") "The commercial seal hunt in inherently cruel -- it is a national disgrace," she added.

Mark Glover of the English animal rights group Respect for Animals termed the hunt "extreme unregulated animal cruelty." On March 16th, he told London's Independent, "The video evidence, and what I have personally witnessed out there, is absolutely intolerable. The hunters run from seal to seal hitting as many of them as possible, leaving them in excruciating pain while they rush to the next animal -- all for a product nobody needs." (See "Britain Told to Sever Links with 'Cruel' Seal Cull.")

A 2001 veterinarian report confirmed that almost half of the seals examined had been conscious when skinned and that this caused "considerable and unacceptable suffering." (See The Independent, March 20, 2006, "Canada Defends Seal Cull While World Calls for a Trade Boycott.") In fact, some wounded seals take as long as ninety minutes to die.

Although under the rules of the hunt, seals are not supposed to be killed until their white fur turns gray at about two-three weeks of age, Robbie Marsland of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) told Toronto's Globe and Mail on March 27th that he had witnessed seals as young as twelve-days-old being massacred. (See photo below of two baby seals still molting.)

On the positive side, this year's hunt has attracted the attention of a number of high-profile celebrities. French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot, who was one of the first really big stars to call attention to the hunt way back in the 1970s, visited Ottawa last week but was snubbed by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. "Canada is a rich country. It doesn't need to sell skin, oil, fat and powdered seal penises to make aphrodisiacs for countries in Asia... You cannot continue a genocide of animals like this," she told the BBC on March 26th. ( See "Canada Seal Cull Gets Under Way.")

Bardot was joined at a press conference in Ottawa by actress Persia White of the American TV show "Girlfriends" and famed seal and whale defender Paul Watson of Sea Shephered. Due to the fact that eleven members of his crew are not allowed into Canada because of their past activities in defense of the seals, Watson has only two observers at the hunt this year. Also his ship, the Farley Mowat, has been detained in Cape Town for several months allegedly because of pressure exerted on the South African authorities by the Japanese in retaliation for Watson's efforts to save the whales from slaughter. (See Cat Defender post of January 27, 2006 entitled "Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace Run Out of Fuel Leaving Minke Whales to the Mercy of Japanese Harpooners.")

It was on March 2nd, however, that opponents of the hunt recorded their biggest coup when Paul McCartney and his wife Heather Mills visited the ice floes off the Iles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and posed for pictures with a baby seal (See photo below). "We just believe that ... for this whole place to be a sea of red, and for these pups we're seeing today to be dead, just for their fur, is just not something that should be happening in this day and age," Paul is quoted by Reuters as saying in the March 3rd report cited supra.

Heather meanwhile lamented the fact that in a few weeks the seal pups would be dead. "Stellen Sie sich vor, Sie haben ein Kind, und dieses Baby wird vor Ihren Augen fur Pelzmode mit einem Holzknuppel zu Tode geprugelt," she is quoted as saying in the March 3rd edition of the Aachener Zeitung. (See "Paul McCartney besucht Robbenbabys und fordert Ende der Jagd.")

Paul further implored the sealers to abandon the hunt and to instead seek their livelihoods through eco-tourism and, in particular, the promotion of whale-watching. While acknowledging that seal hunting has been going on for hundreds of years, he rejected the notion that this in and of itself justified its continuance. "Viele Dinge hat es sehr lange Zeit gegeben, zum Beispiel Sklaverei und Apartheid." (See the Aachener Zeitung article cited supra.)

A day later Paul and Heather debated Danny Williams, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, on CNN's Larry King Live. Williams began by arguing that the hunt was humane and that no seals were clubbed to death but video footage and eyewitness accounts quickly proved him to be a liar. He next resorted to labeling defenders of the seals as terrorists but this accusation was so ludicrous that it was laughable.

Paul and Heather are involved in a number of important animal rights issues including attempting to put an end to the trafficking in cat and dog pelts. (See Cat Defender post of December 15, 2005 entitled "Heather Mills Asks EU to Ban Sale of Cat and Dog Fur; Paul McCartney Calls for Boycott of Chinese Goods and Olympics.") They have also campaigned against Covance's attempt to build an animal research laboratory in Arizona. (See Stern, March 9, 2006, "McCartney gegen Tierversuche.")

Other than the Canadian political establishment, the only well-known groups craven enough to support the hunt are the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). The WWF and its sister organization, National Wildlife, are both frauds and much the same thing can be said for the CVMA which has issued a special report calling the seal hunt humane.

To its credit, the United States has banned the importation of seal products since 1972 and the EU has banned white seal pelts from its shores since 1983. A boycott of Canadian seafood has received the support of four-hundred restaurants, supermarkets, and seafood wholesalers in America. In particular, Canadian snow crab exports have declined by approximately $45 million since last year and pressure is being brought to bear upon Red Lobster to stop purchasing Canadian seafood. Recently, Trader Joe's and Whole Food Market have joined the boycott.

In England, pressure is being exerted on supermarkets to stop stocking Canadian seafood and upon travel agencies in an effort to dissuade tourists from visiting Canada. Similar efforts to ban the importation of Canadian seafood are also under way in France, Deutschland, Holland, Spain, Denmark, Mexico, and Japan. Canada exports $3.1 billion worth of seafood to the United States each year and $110 million to Old Blighty. Throughout the month of March protests have been held in major cities around the world, such as in Wien (See photo above), against the hunt.

In the final analysis, the seal hunt must be ended because it is immoral and abominably cruel. Although the Canadian media are going to great lengths to cover up the atrocities and to malign protesters such as McCartney (CBC's As It Happens, for example) and Bardot, in this case seeing is definitely believing. "None of the photographs or footage you (sic) seen of the seal cull prepares you for the real thing," English Labor MP Ian Cawsey is quoted as saying in the March 16th edition of The Independent cited supra. "The fearful sounds of the seals, the savagery of the clubbing, the ice turning red as the blood seeps away and the steaming, skinned and abandoned corpses. It is difficult to understand the mentality behind this cull. It needs to be ended," he added.

Photos: Reuters (sealer with hakapick, HSUS' inflatable rafts and hunter's boat, seal carcass, and live seals), Indybay.org (bloody seal corpses), Agence France Presse (Paul and Heather), and Sea Shepherd (Wien protest).

Thursday, March 23, 2006

South Africans, Supported by Ailurophobic PETA, Are Slaughtering More Cats on Robben Island

South African officials are once again slaughtering feral cats on Robben Island. Last year veteran cat mass murderer Jon Kieser gunned down fifty-eight defenseless felines on the island which served as Nelson Mandela's gulag for twenty-seven years (See photo of prison below). Now, Kieser and his backers are lobbying hard for permission to shoot down the remaining sixty or so cats.

The cat eradication program is being spearheaded by a potpourri of ailurophobes led by the Robben Island Museum, which manages the island, the SPCA, Marine and Coastal Management, UNESCO and, as one would expect, Les Underhill of the University of Cape Town's avian demography unit. Underhill and his fellow fascist bird-lovers argue that the cats are raiding the nests of African black oystercatchers, terns, and African penguins and therefore must be exterminated. For its part, the museum is worried that UNESCO will strip the island of its World Heritage Site designation and this could cost it vast amounts of money.

Allan Perrins of the Cape of Good Hope SPCA is a hypocritical buffoon. On March 14th he told the Cape Argus, "We specifically want an assurance that if shooting is deemed to be the only effective means of removing the cats from the island, that it will be done humanely, professionally and under our supervision." (See "SPCA to Inspect Robben Island's Cat Culling.")

That is an amazing statement for an official of the SPCA to make! First of all, what is humane about gunning down cats? Perrins' comments are on a par with those expressed by Kieser in the Cape Argus on March 10th when he said, "I know some people are concerned about cruelty (involved in shooting) but it's not at all --it's very quick." (See "Shooting of Robben Island Cats Set to Resume.") It is a sad day when foxes are put in charge of guarding the henhouse.

When it comes to slaughtering cats, Kieser is an old hand. About twenty years ago he helped the Department of Environmental Affairs to exterminate 3,405 cats on South Africa's Marion Island. Marion is a sub-antarctic island located in the Indian Ocean 1,770 kilometers southeast of Port Elizabeth; it is pretty much uninhabited except for a weather station and a bird research unit. In 1949, the South Africans imported five cats in order to keep the rodent population in check and by 1977 that number had multiplied to 3,405. In order to rid the island of the cats, the diabolical South Africans infected some of them with the deadly feline panleucopenia virus (distemper) which within five years had reduced their ranks to six-hundred-fifteen. Since this deadly virus causes fever, depression, weight loss, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and severe stomach pain, all of the felines succumbed to agonizingly slow deaths.

Despite all of this bloodletting, the South Africans demanded that still more felines be exterminated and between 1986-1988 they authorized Kieser and fifteen other men with shotguns and battery-powered flashlights to gun down another 803 cats under the cover of darkness. In 1991, only eight cats were caught during a year-long trapping effort and today there are no known felines living on the island. Quite naturally, Kieser still longs for the thrill of the hunt and, of course, the extra blood money that exterminating the remaining cats on Robben will put in his pockets. If he were not such an inveterate coward he would go to Iraq and fight. Al-Qaeda and the anti-imperialist forces freedom fighting there would be glad to give him some action.

The lust for feline blood is so pervasive in South Africa that the killing of cats has become something of a national pastime. For instance, in the March 10th edition of the Cape Argus cited supra, morally bankrupt reporter John Yeld praised the cat eradication project on Marion as "the largest and most successful island conservation project of its kind."

Apparently the only legitimate animal protection entity in South Africa is Beauty Without Cruelty which has been trapping cats on Robben Island and relocating them to a sanctuary in Hout Bay on the mainland. The group's humane activities have, however, met with resistance from the cat-killers and so far only about a dozen felines have been trapped and relocated.

Speaking of the cats already resettled, spokesperson Beryl Scott told the Cape Argus in the March 14th article cited supra, "Our cats are all getting on very well. There are no problems -- they're as fit as fiddles."

For the time being the cat extermination plan has been put on hold while two inspectors from the disreputable SPCA can review the situation on Robben but the slaughter is expected to resume by the end of the month. In fact, Scott believes that it is still going on and that a number of cats have been shot during the past four months.

Also on the bloodthirsty South Africans' hit list are about one-hundred-twenty deer. As is the case with the cats, some officials are calling for them to be shot while others want them trapped and united with other herds on the mainland. The predominance of opinion seems to favor mass slaughter primarily because officials are too cheap and lazy to relocate the herd. (See Cape Argus, March 15, 2006, "CapeNature, SPCA Lock Horns About Fallow Deer.") Invasive plants, such as Australian acacias, are also being uprooted from the circular, one-kilometer-wide island just off the South African coast from Cape Town (See photo at top of page).

When Dutch colonialists first arrived four-hundred-years ago, the only large animals on the island were birds and seals (die Robbe means seal in Deutsch). During the 1960s deer were brought to the island for prison officials and politicians from the mainland to hunt. It is not known when cats were first brought to the island but it is likely that they were introduced fairly early on in order to protect food supplies from rodents. Now that both the cats and deer are no longer needed South African officials are exterminating them while hiding behind the subterfuge of protecting native species.

The same bloodthirsty ingratitude that the South Africans are showing their cats and deer is also vividly on display half a world away in Australia where officials have launched a massive extermination campaign to eliminate 500,000 camels, 300,000 horses, five million donkeys, 23 million pigs, plus countless millions of cane toads, red foxes, goats, and cats. This unprecedented mass slaughter is being carried out through mass poisonings and machine gun assaults from helicopters. (See Cat Defender post of October 20, 2005 entitled "After Ridding the Ohio Statehouse of Rats, Cats Now Find Themselves Facing Eviction.")

If the cats on Robben Island are raiding the nests of native birds this is man's fault, not the cats. No one feeds or takes care of them so they are forced to fend for themselves. If the Dutch colonialists were so concerned about native birds why did they turn the cats loose in the first place? More to the point, why did it take them so long to become concerned about birds?

First of all, some of the ailurophobes in South Africa are sans doute motivated by a love of the money that tourists pump into Robben's economy. The second reason is a good deal more sinister. Cat-hating fascists like Underhill have recently gained a foothold in academic circles and in so-called animal protection leagues where they are able to promote their feline extermination schemes with impunity. In America, Underhill's cohorts at the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the National Audubon Society, National Wildlife, National Geographic, Pat Conrad of UC-Davis, and PETA, have all repeatedly called for the roundup and extermination of all feral cats.

The holier-than-thou attitude of bird advocates is totally unjustified in light of the petit fait that birds are far from being model citizens of this planet. They spread deadly diseases (Vogelgrippe, the West Nile Virus, etc.), foul streams and fields with huge amounts of excrement, destroy crops, ignite forest fires (southern California and Washington State during the summer of 2004, inter alia), and kill large quantities of insects and small mammals. Owls, eagles, and hawks even prey upon cats and kittens. Based upon the twisted logic put forward by bird-lovers, both cat-lovers and entomologists would be totally justified in demanding that all birds be rounded up and exterminated.

PETA, in particular, could not resist putting in its two cents' worth in favor of the Robben Island cat extermination project. Whenever there are cats to be slaughtered, all the ailurophobes at PETA immediately crawl out of the woodwork and demand to be included in the carnage. In a March 14th letter to the editor of the Cape Argus, PETA's Lindsay Pollard-Post wrote that "euthanasia is the most humane option" for feral cats. A little further along in her immoral, nonsensical spiel she recommended that unwanted cats be given up to shelters where they will have a "chance at finding a loving home."

As Pollard-Post knows only too well, that is an outright lie. Almost one-hundred per cent of all feral cats trapped and brought to shelters are immediately exterminated; none of them are put up for adoption. More importantly, PETA is itself in love with killing defenseless animals. For instance, it exterminates more than eighty-six per cent of the cats and dogs that it takes in at its Norfolk, Virginia shelter. On one of its web sites (www.helpinganimals.com) it defines euthanasia as "a kindness, often the only kindness ever known for animals who are born into a world that doesn't want them, has not cared for them, and ultimately has abandoned them to be disposed of as 'surplus' beings."

PETA is comprised of a clique of morally-warped egomaniacs who believe that they alone have the right to decide what animals are allowed to live and under what circumstances. If they were ever to train their sights on the human race they would quickly establish themselves as the worst genocidal monsters that this world has ever produced.

In conclusion, the cats on Robben Island have just as much of a right to go on living and multiplying as do the birds and other animals, man included, living there. Under no circumstances should they be harmed in any way. If Underhill and his ailurophobic buddies are so concerned about birds they should fence off their nesting areas and stand guard over them twenty-four hours a day, shooing away any cats who might dare to venture near. More importantly, this would give him and his gang something to do with themselves and perhaps sweat out some of the hatred that they carry around inside themselves.

South Africa has only recently emerged from centuries of colonial barbarism but many problems remain. Wholesale poverty and inequality still exist, crime is rampant, and AIDS is decimating the population. Wildlife is threatened by both human predation and shrinking habitats. Cruelty to cats is rampant not only on Robben but all across the country. In May of last year students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) outside Durban roasted a domestic cat in a microwave oven in a college dormitory and laughed about it. (See Cat Defender post of September 22, 2005 entitled "College Students in South Africa Cook a Cat to Death in a Microwave Oven.")

Shooting cats on Robben is no less barbaric. There is no such thing as a humane killing regardless of whether the victim is a cat or a human. It is time for officials in South Africa to join the twenty-first century and do the morally correct thing and spare the lives of the Robben Island cats.

Photos: Wikipedia (Robben Island) and Think Quest (prison).

Monday, March 20, 2006

Luna, the Killer Whale Who Loved People, Is Killed by Tugboat off Vancouver Island

"I'd rather see him live a short and free life rather than a long and captive one."
-- Keith Wood, Act Now for Ocean Natives

Luna, the playful orca who for the past five years had delighted whale-watchers and confounded fishermen in Nootka Sound off Vancouver Island, is no more. His blithe spirit was permanently stilled on March 10th when he was struck and killed by an American tugboat that was pulling a barge loaded with logs. The black and white whale was sliced to pieces when he came into contact with the vessel's powerful propeller; sea gulls feasted on his remains.

Ironically, Luna (See photo above) was killed by what might be called "friendly fire" since he and the crew of the General Jackson were old friends. In fact, just before he met his untimely death, he had been fetching sticks for the crew while they photographed him. Barry Connerty of Great Northern Marine Towing of New Westminster, owner of the General Jackson, told the Vancouver Sun on March 14th that the six-year-old whale behaved like a stray dog seeking companionship whenever any of his boats came near. Sometimes he even assisted the boatmen by pushing logs into bundles. "He'd go right beside the boom boat and boom the log. He'd just hang around. He was just interested in seeing what everybody's doing," Connerty fondly recalled.

Luna, known to scientists as L-98 because he was the ninety-eighth member of the L-pod, was born on September 19, 1999 near the San Juan Islands off Washington State. For some unknown reason, he became separated from his pod and was discovered all by his lonesome in Nootka Sound in 2001. Deprived of the companionship of his fellow orcas, Luna soon developed an affinity for people and boats and it was this attraction which ultimately cost him his life. Even before his fatal encounter with the General Jackson cuts were starting to appear in his skin as the result of run-ins with propellers.

As this life and death drama was being played out over the past few years, Luna's friendliness engendered a slew of complaints from the operators of seaplanes and fishing boats. In particular, he was known to have peeled off the underwater transponders from a number of fishing boats because the radar emitted by fish finders and depth sounders not only irritated him but no doubt interfered with his ability to hunt salmon. Nonetheless, if the moneygrubbers viewed him as an impediment to their shekel accumulation efforts, whale-lovers adored him and he soon became famous all over Canada. He was even featured in several news reports by the CBC's As It Happens. He made his most enduring impression, however, on the First Nations tribe known as Mowachaht-Muchalaht.

When Luna first appeared in Nootka Sound it was three days after their chief, Ambrose Maquinna, had died. Before dying, the chief had oddly enough predicted that he would come back as a kakawin and the tribe believed Tsu'xiit, their name for Luna, to be the embodiment of the spirit of their dead chief. They accordingly tried to watch over him in their canoes.

In June of 2004, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the Vancouver Aquarium, and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) attempted to capture and move Luna to Puget Sound where it was hoped that he would be able to link up once again with his pod. Their efforts were thwarted, however, by tribesmen who spent nine days on the water protecting the whale from his would-be captors and the relocation effort was abandoned. Earlier in 2002, Canadian and American officials had successfully reunited another orca, Springer or A-73, with her pod after she had wandered into Puget Sound.

Luna's decision to take up residence in Nootka Sound dumbfounded officials and they were never quite able to recover from their stupor. Even the relocation effort was controversial. Keith Wood of Act Now for Ocean Natives told Mark Hume of Toronto's Globe and Mail on March 13th that relocating the orca to Puget Sound may not have worked. "It's not clear at all that had Luna been captured that he would have been released, that he would have survived the capture itself, or that he would have been reunited with his family." (See "Another Whale's Drop in a Toxic Ocean.") Wood further pointed out that Puget Sound is one of the busiest harbors on the West Coast and that Luna might very well have been in even greater danger there than in Nootka Sound. Back in January, rescuers in London killed a whale in a misguided rescue attempt. (See Cat Defender post of January 30th entitled "Female Northern Bottlenosed Whale Dies in the Thames After a Botched Rescue Attempt.")

As for reports that Luna was going to be confined to an aquarium if captured, Wood replied, "I'd rather see him live a short and free life than a long and captive one."

On March 13th, one-hundred-thirty members of the Mowachaht-Muchalaht tribe gathered in Gold River to remember Luna. Songs were sung, prayers offered, and tribesmen in a canoe spread sacred cedar boughs on the water (See photo below). "Since time immemorial we've stood by each and every animal and living thing within our territory," new chief Mike Maquinna told the gathering. "For the past few years, we've been honored by the presence of the whale. We have a lot to be proud of as Mowachaht-Muchalaht people, for upholding our beliefs of letting nature take its course, and keeping Tsu'xiit free." (See the Westcoaster, March 16, 2006, "Mowachaht-Muchalaht Mourns Loss of Luna.") A larger commemoration is scheduled for July and Suzanne Chisholm and Mike Parfit of Mountainside Films are preparing a documentary on Luna.

As Hume points out in the Globe and Mail article cited supra, Canadians have a long history of abusing killer whales. For instance, in the 1940s the Canadian Air Force used orcas in the nearby Strait of Georgia for target practice. Fisherman have shot them in order to keep them from eating salmon and aquariums have imprisoned many more of them. As horrific as all of this was, orcas today face even greater dangers, such as collisions with ships, entanglement with fishing nets, oil spills, eardrum-splitting sonar and, above all, pollution. In particular, Hume points out that the level of toxic chemicals found in killer whales is three times higher than those known to cause immunotoxicity in harbor seals. Immunotoxicity could make orcas more susceptible to diseases, cancers, and sterility.

The only way that orcas and other marine life can survive is for man to stop using the oceans as giant garbage dumps. Fishing needs to be curtailed and drag nets outlawed. Ocean noise, including sonar, must be reduced. With Luna's tragic death, only eighty-nine orcas, or southern residents, remain in the area bounded by Vancouver Island in the north and Puget Sound in the south and, based upon the amount of boat traffic and pollution in the water, their prospects do not look particularly encouraging.

The saddest part of this tragedy is that Luna need not have died. If relocating him was not feasible, maritime officials should have declared Nootka Sound to be off limits to propeller-driven boats. The life of this friendly whale was surely worth a lot more than the petty commercial interests of a few greedy capitalists. By refusing to take the necessary steps to ensure Luna's well-being, Canadian officials killed him just as certain as if they had harpooned him.

"He touched a lot of lives and he really brought our community together," tribesman Kelly John, who can be seen in a video petting Luna at www.komotv.com, told the Westcoaster. "The world saw us standing together as a strong community with a strong culture, and he's a part of our history now."

Photos: KOMO, Channel 4, Seattle (Luna) and Deddeda Stemler, Canadian Press (tribesmen in canoe).

Friday, March 17, 2006

Two More Cats and a Steinmarder Die of Vogelgrippe on Insel Rügen Prompting Panicky Owners to Abandon Their Felines at Shelters

Two more cats and a Steinmarder (See photo on the right) have died from Vogelgrippe on Deutschland's Insel Rügen. According to the March 7th edition of Stern, both cats were found in the Wittower Fahre section of Rügen but it is not known whether they were domesticated or feral felines. One of them was found dead in an empty outbuilding on a farm while the other one was discovered by a policewoman in a garden plot. (See "Zwei weitere Katzen mit H5N1 infiziert.")

The Steinmarder, a type of weasel, was found alive but exhibiting Grippesymptomen on March 2nd in the Schaprode section of Rügen. He was quickly done away with by the Ruegener Amtstierarzt. (See Aachener Zeitung, March 9, 2006, "Weltweit erstmals Vogelgrippe bei Steinmarder.") Tests conducted on one-hundred-seventy of more than three-thousand Wildvogeln, primarily swans, found dead on Rügen have confirmed that they also were felled by Vogelgrippe.

While it is generally assumed that the three Katzen and the Steinmarder contracted the deadly H5N1 virus from eating contaminated birds, Josef H. Reichholf, a zoologist at Technischen Universitat Munchen, thinks that the experts have got it all wrong. He is quoted in the March 9th edition of Expatica as blaming chicken manure for the spread of the disease. (See "Poultry Faeces (sic) Causing Bird Flu Spread: Expert.") He theorizes that runoff from poultry farms is being washed into lakes, rivers, and the oceans where it is then being ingested by fish and other marine mammals. The contaminated fish are then eaten by birds and terrestrial animals.

In support of his argument, he points out that fish meal is widely fed to poultry and other animals and that the trio of civet cats who died from Vogelgrippe in Vietnam last August had been fed fish. Reichholf likewise believes that Katzen are contracting the virus through coming into contact with chicken manure used by farmers as a fertilizer as opposed to being sickened from eating contaminated birds. He also notes that the spread of the virus from east to west is at odds at the normal north to south migration route of most birds and, more importantly, that the virus is spreading at the wrong time of the year.

Many of Reichholf's objections to standard orthodoxy concerning Vogelgrippe have been debunked in the past by ornithologists and virologists who have studied the spread of the West Nile Virus. According to some experts, that deadly virus was carried to New York from Israel on the wings of Wildvogeln who in turn infected other birds who spread the disease all the way to Los Angeles. (See Kurt D. Reed, Jennifer K. Meece, James S. Henkel, and Sanjay K. Shukula, "Birds, Migration and Emerging Zoonoses: West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease, Influenza A and Enterpathogens," at www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov.)

Regardless of how it is being spread, Reichholf nonetheless believes that Vogelgrippe has been around for years but went undetected because the large number of birds who die off each winter were never tested for it. Tant pis, he believes that the virus is going to be around for some time.

Reichholf's theory was quickly dismissed by Thomas Mettenleiter, president of the Friedrich Loeffler Institut fur Tiergesundheit, who labeled the chances of getting Vogelgrippe from fish as "sehr gering." On March 8th, he told the Aachener Zeitung, "Die unterschiedlichen Korpertemperaturen von Nutz- und Wildflugel einerseits und Fischen andererseits wurden derzeit ein Uberspringen des Erregers behindern." (See "Vogelgrippe weitet sich aus.") He also said that an increase in the Erregers in fish was very unlikely without further mutations of the virus and that is was perfectly safe for people to consume fish and fish products.

On March 15th, the BBC reported that a stray dog had died from Vogelgrippe in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. (See "Bird Flu 'Causes First Dog Death.'") This report has not been confirmed by Western health experts and it contradicts the widely held notion that canines are immune to the virus. Should this report be proven true, it would signal that the virus is attacking larger mammals and drawing ever closer to man.

Throughout history there have always been unscrupulous individuals and groups who have profited mightily from the miseries of both animals and their fellow citizens. For example, both the oil companies and international shipping concerns, egged on by The New York Times and its sister publication the International Herald Tribune, are already making plans to clean up as soon as what remains of the polar icecap melts in the Arctic. Malheursement, the situation is not any different with Vogelgrippe as capitalists and politicians all around the world are already licking their chops in greedy anticipation of all the money that they are going to make off of a pandemic.

On March 13, Der Spiegel reported that Citicorp analysts Bruce Rolph and Robert Bonte-Friedheim have prepared a report listing the industries most likely to profit from a pandemic as well as those most likely to be harmed by one. As it would be expected, pharmaceutical concerns (Gilead, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, etc.), manufacturers of disinfectants (Henkel, Reckitt-Benckiser, Ecolab, Clorox, Proctor and Gamble, etc.), public health concerns (Tenet, community hospitals, etc.), home entertainment providers (Nintendo, Blockbuster, etc.), telecommunications companies (Deutsche Telekom, AT&T, BT, etc.), and internet giants (eBay, Google, Yahoo, etc.), should all make out like bandits. Industries likely to be hit hard by a pandemic are the airlines, hotels, insurance companies, high-end retailers, oil companies, coal mining outfits, and, mein Gott, beer producers. (See "Wer von der Vogelgrippe profitiert.")

On the same day, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that a pandemic could do considerable damage to both domestic economies and global trade as well. On the domestic front, the world organization is predicting big increases in both worker absenteeism and inflation coupled with a growing demand for cash. It also expects commodity prices to drop and that for increased spending on Voglegrippe to put added fiscal pressure on governments. On the international level, the IMF is predicting major disruptions in trade, transportation, and the supply of oil as well as a reduction in the flow of capital to emerging markets. (See Reuters, "IMF Warns of Economic Pain from Bird Flu Pandemic.")

While capitalists and politicians alike plan and scheme on how they are going to profit from Vogelgrippe, cats as usual are being forced to pay the highest price. Not only are they dying of the virus, but their owners have been ordered by health officials to keep them indoors in contaminated areas. In other instances, such as at Arche Noah in Graz, Austria (See photo above on the left), they are being held in quarantine.

Worst still, during the past couple of weeks hundreds, if not thousands, of cats have been dumped at shelters in Deutschland and Frankreich (See photo on the right of cats at a shelter in France). "A lot of owners pretend they have suddenly developed an allergy to cat fur," a worker at the French Society for the Protection of Animals told the Times of London on March 9th. (See "Flu Panic Hits Cats, Dogs -- and Disney.")

By abandoning their cats, owners are signing their death warrants because shelters, already overcrowded, will exterminate just about all of them. Although there is not any evidence that cats can transmit the virus to humans, it is highly unlikely that many people will be willing to open up their homes to new cats as long as Vogelgrippe is still around. Since shelter workers are not only mass murderers but inveterate liars as well, cat-lovers likely will never know just how many cats they are exterminating because of Vogelgrippe. Moreover, if the reports from Azerbaijan are confirmed, dogs could be the next animal to be slaughtered en masse.

As it has happened so often in the past, cats are once again being made the scapegoats for man's insatiable greed and corruption of nature. Rather than exterminating cats, man ought to learn to live in harmony with the animals and Mother Earth; in particular, factory farming should be outlawed. Of course, that is not about to happen because there is simply too much money in it for the capitalists and very few consumers care what they are eating or where it comes from; consequently, the abuse and slaughter of defenseless animals and the corresponding spread of both old and new zoonotic diseases is going to continue unabated. Man likes to consider himself to be educated but over and over again his actions prove that his tuition has not progressed very far.

Photos: Deutsche Presseagentur (Steinmarder), Associated Press (Graz cat), and Jean-Philippe Ksiazek, Agence France Presse (French shelter).

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Vogelgrippe Claims the Life of a Kater on Deutschland's Rügen Islet. Could Humans Be Next?

A tomcat who died last week on Deutschland's Ostsee Islet of Rügen was killed by the deadly Vogelgrippe virus H5N1. Der Kater, who had been recently adopted by Rentner Johannes Lammertz, 62, of the Schaprode section of Rügen after his previous owner had died, was found dead in a Brennholz-Schuppen on Lammertz's Anwesen (See photo on the right).

The nameless gray and white cat's death was unexpected in that he did not exhibit any of the symptoms commonly associated with Vogelgrippe, such as labored breathing, nasal discharges, and sneezing. It is believed that the cat contracted the virus from eating birds already infected with it.

Despite the dire prediction of Dutch researcher Thijs Kuiken back in 2004, there have not been so far any recorded instances of the virus being passed either between cats or from cats to humans. However, when a cat at an animal sanctuary in the southern Austrian city of Graz tested positive for Vogelgrippe earlier this week but did not get sick, the World Health Organization (WHO) became concerned. The organization's Michael Perdue told Reuters on March 7th that this ominous development could mean that the virus is mutating into a far more dangerous strain which could infect humans.

While admitting that there is not any current research which shows cats to be hidden carriers of the disease, Perdue added, "The longer it stays in mammals one would assume it is more likely to be adapted to mammals, as opposed to staying in birds. If the virus obtains all the mutations needed to transmit easily between mammals it could imply a higher risk to humans." The infected cat in Graz was one of one-hundred-seventy felines who were carelessly caged next to swans, chickens, and ducks with Vogelgrippe.

For the past few weeks at least three-hundred-sixty-four Soldaten dressed in biohazard suits from the Bundeswehr (See photo below) have been pressed into service on Ruegen collecting the corpses of more than three-thousand mute swans and song birds who have died on the island. Tests conducted on a sampling of the corpses by the Friedrich Loeffler Institut have revealed that more than two-hundred of them died from Vogelgrippe. The virus has also been discovered in the Deutschland states of Bayern, Baden Wuerttemberg, Brandenburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and Niedersachsen.

The spread of the virus from birds to mammals has prompted health officials to order that all cats living within three kilometers (1.8 miles) of an infected area be confined indoors. Although there is no evidence that dogs are susceptible to the disease, the government has ordered that they be kept on a leash in infected areas. Other experts have advised that cats with runny noses and colds be taken immediately to a vet and checked for the virus (See photo below of a cat being examined). Professor Peter Openshaw, head of respiratory infections at London's Imperial College has even gone so far as to recommend that a vaccine be developed for cats. (See BBC, March 1, 2006, "Bird Flu: Are Pet Cats at Risk?")

In Deutschland, it is legal for hunters to kill cats that stray more than two-hundred meters (216 yards) from a built-up area and the Association for Animal Protection estimates that 400,000 Katzen are slaughtered in this manner each year. (See London's Telegraph, October 23, 2005, "German Hunters Under Fire for Killing Domestic Cats.") Now, some Tierschutzen fear that the hysteria occasioned by Vogelgrippe could lead to more of Deutschland's 7.5 million felines being gunned down by ailurophobes. (See photo below of a cat walking in the snow.)

This is not the first time that domestic cats have become infected with Vogelgrippe. In Thailand in 2004, two domestic cats, along with one-hundred-forty-seven tigers at a private zoo, died from the virus. In both cases, the cats were fed contaminated chicken.

Civet cats, blamed for the spread of SARS, and leopards have also succumbed to Vogelgrippe. Cats are also susceptible to the feline version of BSE and around one-hundred of them died from the disease in England during the 1990s. The actual number of fatalities was probably much higher because only a fraction of aggrieved cat owners were willing to spring for postmortems. Back then, the culprit was contaminated beef contained in commercial cat food.

In addition to dogs, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters are believed to be immune to Vogelgrippe. The virus has also been found in ferrets and pigeons but the latter rarely transmit the virus. Many virologists feel that the real danger to man comes from pigs who, because of genetic similarities, could provide a mixing bowl for gene swapping which could lead to the creation of a new highly contagious strain of the disease which could be passed not only from pigs to man but from man to man.

Since 2003, one-hundred-seventy-three cases of Vogelgrippe have been reported in humans worldwide, ninety-three of which have been fatal. With the exception of a handful of cases where human-to-human transmission of the virus is suspected, all of the reported cases have involved birds, primarily migratory birds, chickens, and ducks.

In most cases, the victims became infected through either coming into contact with bird feces or by eating dishes which contained raw poultry blood. Apparently, even contaminated poultry can be safely eaten so long as it is thoroughly cooked.

It is believed that the virus is transmitted by wild birds to chickens and turkeys kept outdoors and then on to humans. This has led agricultural officials in Deutschland and elsewhere in Europe to order that all poultry be confined indoors.

Unsanitary conditions on poultry farms (See Washington Post, February 5, 2005, "As SE Asian Farms Boom, Stage Set for Pandemic."), itinerate duck herders (See Washington Post, February 13, 2005, "Thai Farmers Worry Controls on Bird Flu Threaten Livelihoods."), and unhygienic cockfighting practices (See Washington Post, April 14, 2005, "Bird Flu Adds New Danger to Bloody Game.") have also been blamed for spreading Vogelgrippe. In the United States, fairly stringent sanitary regulations have been in place on U.S. poultry farms since the 1960s.

The outbreak of the virus has not only decimated the tourist business on Ruegen but it has also focused attention on the lack of preparedness on the part of Deutschland officials. For instance, the decontamination effort has been hampered not only by a shortage of such mundane items as biohazard gloves, plastic bags for carting away dead birds, and measuring cups for dispensing disinfectants, but also because of a shortage of ice sleds needed to retrieve carcasses from frozen lagoons. (See Der Spiegel, February 25, 2006, "Germany in the Age of Bird Flu.")

Fears have also been raised that football's World Cup, scheduled to be held in Berlin starting in June, may have to be cancelled. Meanwhile, ebay has been cashing in on the crisis by peddling mobile poultry enclosures, electronic scarecrows, and other anti-Vogelgrippe paraphernalia.

In Aachen, near the Dutch border, officials are becoming accustomed to receiving dozens of calls every day from frightened citizens beseeching them to come and collect dead birds. "Seit dem 21. Februar haben wir rund 90 Anrufer verzeichnet, die tot gefundene Vogel gemeldet haben oder Fragen zur Vogelgrippe hatten. Die Leute haben zum Teil richtig Angst," Hans Poth, Pressesprecher for the Nordrhein-Westfalen city told the Aachener Zeitung on March 3rd. (See "Vogelgrippe: Bei vielen liegen Nerven blank.") Two members of Aachen's Feuerwehr are shown below responding to another Fehlalarm.

While Openshaw, Kuiken, and the WHO paint a rather pessimistc view of the situation, Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia does not think that Vogelgrippe is all that big of a deal for either cats or man. While admitting that the chances of a cat contracting Vogelgrippe are real, he does not think that they are "huge." As far as humans are concerned, he points out that while hundreds of thousands of people in Asia have handled infected poultry less than two-hundred have been sickened through such contact. (See BBC article cited supra.)

Although the experts may disagree about how much of a threat Vogelgrippe poses for cats and humans, there can be no disputing the Schaden that the virus has done to Deutschland's more than $2 billion a year poultry business and, as Hamlet would say, therein lies the rub. In the final analysis, it is man's insatiable greed which is to blame.

Factory farming is not only unhygienic, but it is also barbaric, cruel, and morally indefensible. Farm animals are not inanimate objects that man can genetically alter, mistreat, and slaughter at will without engendering all sorts of unintended calamities; they are instead living, sensitive beings who have just as much of a right to life as does man. Vogelgrippe and other zoonotic diseases, such as SARS, CJD, and AIDS, are the direct result of man's mistreatment of the animals.

In the best of all worlds, man would have a healthy respect for Mother Earth, the animals, and his fellows but, lacking that, the best that he can strive for is to behave in a halfway intelligent manner. Sadly, man's persistent mistreatment of the animals and Mother Earth proves over and over again that he has very little of either morality or brains.

Photos: Das Bild (Lammertz's farm), Deutsche Presseagentur (Bundeswehr), Associated Press (cat being tested and cat in the snow), and Aachener Zeitung (Feuerwehr).

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Little Dickie Loses an Eye in Pet Rage Fracas That Culminates in His Owner's Murder by Police on Staten Island

A seven-year-old, ten-pound, neutered tomcat named Dickie lost his left eye to a knife wound in a case of pet rage on Staten Island February 16th that led to his owner being mercilessly gunned down by a trigger-happy New York City policeman.

The tragic events were the culmination of a long-simmering domestic dispute between Dickie's owner, sixty-five-year-old Stephanie Lindboe, and her next door neighbor, fifty-nine-year-old Linda Padula. According to press reports, the elderly tenants of the Kensington Gardens apartment complex in the Bay Terrace section of Staten Island had clashed repeatedly over Dickie's use of the hallway as a toilet.

While Padula has denied stabbing Dickie, Lindboe apparently believed that she was responsible for the cat's injury and that is why she flew into a rage and stabbed her neighbor eight times in the neck, chest, arms, and hands with a kitchen knife. A handyman who witnessed the attack on Padula called 911 and this led to the dispatch of five police officers who upon arrival were confronted by Lindboe wielding a foot-long knife. When she failed to heed a command to drop the weapon, a plainclothes police sergeant fired at her twice, striking her once fatally in the upper torso. Press reports did not specify whether or not the other officers were in uniform but certainly there was not any way that Lindboe could have known that her murderer was a cop.

The Lindboe killing is reminiscent of the execution of sixty-six-year-old Eleanor Bumpers by New York City's so-called finest back in 1984. When a stark-naked and obese Bumpers, who was being thrown out of her Bronx apartment because she owed the miniscule sum of $417.10 in back rent, confronted six police officers with a knife, she was gunned down with a pump shotgun by nineteen-year-old officer Stephen Sullivan.

These cases raise serious questions about the training, mental competence, and use of lethal force by the Gotham police. Although in both instances they were confronted by mentally-disturbed elderly women brandishing knives, they nonetheless enjoyed overwhelming manpower advantages in both cases. Moreover, since the police carry canisters of tear gas, nightsticks, and heavy flashlights, they could have used any of these devices to have disarmed both women without putting their own lives unnecessarily in jeopardy. The fact that Padula was able to absorb eight of Lindboe's thrusts without sustaining any life-threatening wounds indicates that either the knife was not very sharp or that Lindboe was not very proficient in using it. Nonetheless, any police officer incapable of disarming an old woman with a kitchen knife does not have any business wearing a badge and carrying a gun in the first place. As was the case with Bumpers' killer, Lindboe's murderer will likewise no doubt get off scot-free. There are a lot of people in this country who stupidly believe that anyone plugged by the police is only getting what he or she deserves.

Law enforcement and security personnel today rely primarily upon the use of deadly force and technology in order not only to apprehend suspects but also to control protesters; they are far too cowardly and lazy to either chase down or to physically disarm suspects. Police nationwide have already killed more than one-hundred suspects with TASERs (Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifles) and ear-splitting sound waves are now being used to disburse protesters and to drive away pirates from cruise ships on the high seas. The right to peacefully assemble and to protest will soon be a thing of the past and anyone who fails to obey (or even to hear) a police command to halt will be risking getting drilled in the back with a fatal bolt of electricity.

As for poor Dickie, although doctors were unable to save his badly injured eye they were able to successfully treat a contusion and swelling in his soft palate. Dr. Jeffrey Kessler of the Staten Island Veterinary Group in Travis who operated on the hazel-colored cat told the New York Daily News on March 3rd, "He's like brand-new. He's been through a lot, but he's a fighter." (See "Dickie's Just Ducky.")

He also has a new home. He was adopted March 2nd by Lindboe's sister-in-law, fifty-one-year-old Patricia Kramer (See photo below) of the Silver Lake section of Staten Island. "As soon as I heard about the incident, I wanted him," she told the Daily News. "She (Lindboe) loved this cat. I plan to spoil him rotten."

Despite Kramer's declaration, it is doubtful that Dickie will be receiving all that much attention because his new guardian already has five other cats as well as two dogs. The adoption has nonetheless been approved by Kessler who has advised Kramer to keep Dickie separated from her other animals for about a week in order to allow him time to adjust to his new surroundings. His $2,500 medical bill was footed by Animal Care and Control of New York City which maintains a Star Foundation to provide financial assistance to strays who would otherwise be exterminated.

Commenting upon the passions that pets arouse in their guardians, ASPCA Special Agent Joseph Pentangelo told the Daily News on February 20th, "Some people consider pets members of their family, and members of your family evoke powerful emotions -- both good and bad." In the same article, social worker Carole Fudin seconded Pentangelo's assessment of the strong bonds that people develop with their pets by adding, "It's that deep and they are willing to fight to protect them, just like they would a child." (See "Pet Rage Has 'em Fighting Like Cats and Dogs.")

Even Kessler was shaken by the chain of events which cost Dickie an eye. "I've seen some strange things but this whole scenario is pretty pathetic and sad," he told the Staten Island Advance on February 18th. (See "Injured Cat Recovering After Surgery.")

It is unlikely that this tragedy would ever have occurred if Padula, who at last report was still recuperating at a Staten Island rehabilitation center, were not an ailurophobe. She does not own the hallways of Kensington Gardens and should have accordingly minded her own business. If she had a problem with Dickie fouling the hallway she should have taken her complaint to management who would have most likely evicted Dickie since cats are not allowed in the complex in the first place. Instead she chose to scrap with Lindboe and that decision nearly cost her her life. Worst still, poor Dickie lost an eye and Lindboe wound up being exterminated by the police. Surely a little errant cat urine and feces is not worth this much carnage!

Moreover, just as Bumpers' relatives have been faulted for not helping her with both the rent and her mental problems, so too are Lindboe's relations blameworthy for not seeing to it that she received proper psychological care. In particular, Kramer's comment to the Daily News that "maybe this will help people to open their eyes to the seriousness of mental health" seems to be especially hypocritical in light of the fact that she works as an administrator at a domestic violence shelter. Since Lindboe's mental woes were well known to a number of tenants at Kensington Gardens, Kramer must have known about them also and yet she apparently did not do anything to help her sister-in-law.

Animal welfare officers in Gotham should closely monitor Kramer's performance as Dickie's new guardian in order to ensure that he is provided with a safe environment and proper medical care. Since he is getting on, his fouling of the hallway could be the result of incontinence and if this is so Kramer needs to be understanding about his condition.

Finally, if it is determined that Padula is responsible for putting out Dickie's eye she should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Every year there are countless reports of ailurophobes putting out antifreeze and other poisons in order to rid apartment buildings and lawns of cats. Sadly, aggrieved cat owners often never learn what has happened to their beloved companions. It is therefore imperative that legislators enact statutes that recognize both the sanctity of animal life and the rights of pet owners. Injuring or killing an animal should be taken as seriously as harming humans.

Photos: ABC Eyewitness News Channel 7, New York (Dickie) and New York Post (Dickie and Kramer).

Friday, March 03, 2006

A Cat-Hating Professor at UC-Davis and the BBC Call for the Extermination of Seventy-Eight Million Feral Felines

A Sea Otter

"So the cat through the ages has been more cruelly and persistently mistreated than any other beast."
-- Carl Van Vechten, The Tiger in the House

Vivisectors at so-called institutions of higher learning torture and mutilate them with impunity for profit and fame all the while swearing allegiance to the advancement of science. In China, Korea, and elsewhere millions are slaughtered for their meat, fur, and medicinal value. (See Cat Defender posts of February 8, 2006 and December 15, 2005, respectively entitled "Stray Cats Rounded Up in Shanghai, Butchered, and Sold as Mutton in Restaurants and on the Street," and "Heather Mills Asks EU to Ban Sale of Cat and Dog Fur; Paul McCartney Calls for Boycott of Chinese Goods and Olympics.")

Circuses and zoos exploit them, motorists run them down for sport, and kids harass and torture them. During the Middle Ages the Catholic Church exterminated them because they were fraudulently alleged to have been the familiars of witches. As the result of this madness, nearly one-third of the European population was wiped out by the bubonic plague because the rat population, widely believed to have been responsible for spreading the deadly disease, went unchecked.

In more recent times, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the National Audubon Society, PETA, National Wildlife, and National Geographic have all called for the roundup and extermination of feral cats because they allege that they are having a detrimental impact upon birds.

When the Israeli colonialists abandoned twenty-one colonies in Gaza and four more in the West Bank last August they left behind thousands of cats to die of hunger, thirst, and predation in the desert heat. Hundreds more have been poisoned in Israel during the past six years because they were suspected of carrying the rabies virus. Authorities in both Australia and New Zealand have likewise launched feline extermination campaigns on the pretext of protecting wildlife. (See Cat Defender post of November 7, 2005 entitled "Israeli Colonialists in Gaza and the West Bank Leave Behind Thousands of Cats to Die of Thirst, Hunger, and Predation.")

Now, Professor Patricia Conrad of the University of California at Davis has joined the ailurophobes by calling for all feral cats to be rounded up and exterminated because she alleges that a parasite carried by them is responsible for a decline in the population of sea otters living along the California coast. While the scientific evidence for Conrad's assertion is far from convincing, she has already found a powerful ally in the form of the BBC.

In one of the worst examples of scurrilous, one-sided journalism ever, Paul Rincon of the BBC reprinted Conrad's anti-cat screed practically word-for-word on February 19th without questioning either the veracity of her research or the validity of her conclusions. (See "Cat Parasite 'Is Killing Otters.'") It is truly amazing how the corporate media, the police-military establishment, crooked politicians, and hack scholars living on welfare all stick together like congealed feces.

Although Conrad and her cronies at UC-Davis have been maligning cats with impunity for the past ten years, the latest brouhaha developed as the result of a paper that she delivered at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in St. Louis, February 16-20. Simply put, Conrad argues that cat feces containing the parasite toxoplasma gondii is being carried into the Pacific Ocean by either tributary streams or through sewerage systems where it is then ingested by otters in either the water or the mussels, clams, and oysters that they consume. Once ingested, the parasite lays waste to the otters' brains causing death by either toxoplasma encephalitis or, because of their weakened condition, predation by sharks.

Patricia Conrad

Toxoplasma gondii is the same parasite that pregnant women are urged to take precautions against, especially when changing litter boxes. It can also create problems for organ transplant recipients and individuals with compromised immune systems (e.g., HIV-AIDS). In extreme cases it has been blamed for automobile accidents, schizophrenia, and risk-taking behavior. Generally, however, it is not a problem for most humans as long as they avoid raw and undercooked meat and rinse off vegetables before consuming them.

To give the devil her due, necropsies performed by Conrad and her cronies have found toxoplasma gondii in hundreds of sea otters (Enhydra lutris). Since, according to her and others, only cats shed this parasite they are accordingly the ones responsible for killing the otters. However, an article by A.J.S. Rayl appearing in the February 19, 2001 edition of The Scientist and entitled "Researchers Focus on Sea Otter Deaths," also blames Sarcocystis neurona, a parasite carried by possums, for killing otters.

As any fool knows, the oceans are dying a slow death. When man is not killing off the fish and mammals in order to line his pockets, he is using their habitat as the world's largest garbage disposal site.

Sewage, farm and industrial waste, oil, deadly chemicals such as PCBs, military waste including nuclear fallout, and garbage from boats and airplanes are only a few of the destructive pollutants that are routinely dumped into the seas. Due to the depletion of the ozone layer, whales and possibly other marine mammals are contracting deadly skin cancers and off the east coast of Africa coral reefs are dying because motorboat propellers are destroying the sea grass which filters out impurities in the water.

Instead of focusing exclusively upon toxoplasma gondii, Conrad should take a long hard look at global warming. Ken Caldeira of Carnegie Institution told a gathering of the American Geophysical Union in Hawaii last week that carbon dioxide emissions are leading to an increase in acid levels in the oceans which in turn are not only destroying coral reefs and plankton but also the calcium carbonate shells of the crabs, oysters, and mussels that sea otters and other marine mammals eat. Unless this trend is reversed, shellfish are going to die out.

Caldeira's research is buttressed by the findings of Jim Orr of the Laboratory for Science of the Climate and Environment in Paris who recently predicted in an article for Nature that by 2050 both the Southern Ocean and sub-Arctic regions of the Pacific will be too acidic in order to support the continued existence of shellfish. If this occurs, it will be cataclysmic for the salmon, mackerel, herring, cod, and baleen whales who feed upon sea butterflies (pteropods). (See The Sunday Times of London, February 26, 2006, "Acid Seas Kill Off Coral Reefs.")

In 2002, the United Kingdom Environmental Agency reported that sewage containing female urine laced with residual estrogen from birth control pills was responsible for altering the sex of male fish in the Thames. On January 22nd, London's Independent reported that oxybenzone, a chemical used in sunscreens, was responsible for feminizing male horneyhead turbots and English soles who feed near sewage pipes which empty into the Pacific at Huntington Beach. (See "If Your Suntan Oil (sic) Can Change the Sex of Fish, What Can It Do to You?") 

The Swiss have likewise found gender-bending chemicals from sun creams and oils in fish caught in their streams. Researchers theorize that oxybenzone and other chemicals used in sunscreens are washed off in the shower and pass unaltered through sewerage systems before they settle into the seabed where they are consumed by bottom-feeding fish.

Based upon the warped logic which Conrad and her gang of cat-haters have put forward, users of both birth control pills and sunscreen should be exterminated. Of course, she does not have the temerity to make such a public utterance because if she did she would undoubtedly not only be kicked out of academia but locked up in a nuthouse as well.

Unlike people, cats do not have money, shysters, and press agents and are thus unable to defend themselves against monsters like Conrad. Thanks to the BBC and other news outlets, cats almost always receive a bad press and this makes them easy targets for groups and individuals wanting to annihilate them.

Sewage Pipes 

Considering the volume of deadly pollutants dumped into the oceans it is difficult to believe that cat feces alone is to blame for the high mortality rate among otters and Conrad's research should therefore not be taken as gospel. Even if she is correct, her decision to join the ailurophobes at the ABC in calling for all cats to be confined indoors is not merely ludicrous but barbaric as well.

She and her followers are far too dishonest and cowardly to admit it but this would mean that seventy-eight million feral cats in the United States would have to be rounded up and exterminated. The reason that there are so many of them in the first place is due to the fact that there are insufficient homes for them now.

Almost one-hundred per cent of all feral cats trapped by animal control personnel and other groups are immediately exterminated. Some of them are killed on the spot and hardly any of them who are lucky enough to make it to shelters alive are ever put up for adoption. Shelter workers are too cheap to house and feed them and too lazy to socialize them for adoption.

Moreover, they get a kick out of killing defenseless and innocent animals. Phony-baloney PETA admits to having a kill rate of eighty-six per cent at its Norfolk, Virginia shelter and even Alley Cat Allies returns to the wild only about forty per cent of the cats that it traps; the other sixty per cent are exterminated. As it is, an estimated ten million cats and seven million dogs are exterminated at shelters every year in the United States.

Once dispatched, they are unceremoniously dumped in landfills where their sodium pentobarbital-laced corpses kill again by claiming the lives of eagles, coyotes, and other scavengers. There can be little doubt that some of these deadly barbiturates also make their way into the oceans but neither Conrad nor the BBC have anything to say about this subject.

Since all cats, feral and domestic, cover up their feces, the presence of toxoplasma gondii oocysts in the Pacific Ocean is in itself an indictment of both officials and residents of California for poor land and water management. Too much development and, in particular, the paving over and extensive farming of the land, means that rainwater and runoff from farms and developments goes directly into storm drains and then into rivers and out into the ocean without being treated.

Rather than killing cats, development should be curbed and freshwater runoff purified before it is allowed to enter the oceans. Municipal sewerage systems likewise need to start treating their sewage for toxoplasma gondii because a number of cat litter manufacturers are marketing flushable litter.

The plight of otters is truly regrettable. Hunted almost to extinction during the nineteenth century for their valuable pelts, they have just as much of a right to live as any other animal, man included. The continued existence of two-thousand otters should not, however, come at the expense of seventy-eight million feral cats, especially when humane solutions are readily available.

Sadly, Conrad and her supporters do not have any genuine interest in protecting either the oceans or in preserving marine mammals and fish. They only want to kill cats! If she were serious, she would go after capitalists and consumers alike but she is unwilling to do that because she makes her living off of handouts from both groups.

Closer to home, it would be interesting to know what Conrad has to say about the three laboratories that her own University of California operates (Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, and Los Alamos) and which have been heavily involved in the development of nuclear weapons since the days of the Manhattan Project. How many people, animals, and sections of Mother Earth has her own employer, directely or indirectly, obliterated over the past sixty-five years? Like bird advocates, she is every bit as greedy, dishonest, and corrupt as the capitalists and consumers that she represents.

As for cats, one can only wonder what they will be blamed for next. What about the common cold? Or, say, constipation, the weather, wars, poverty, and budget deficits? Just as the number of ailurophobes is almost infinite so, too, are their lies. Most alarming of all, neither Conrad nor the BBC is willing to acknowledge either the immorality of killing cats or the thousands of years of invaluable service that they have rendered mankind through their companionship and rodent control.

As celebrated author Lilian Jackson Braun once wrote, "These intelligent, peace-loving, four-footed friends -- who are without prejudice, without hate, without greed -- may someday teach us something." Malheursement, no one can reason with a cat-hater.

Photos: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (sea otter), University of California at Davis (Conrad), and BBC (sewage pipes).