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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

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Collar Saves Turbo from Extermination after He Is Illegally Trapped by Bird-Loving Psychopaths

"I cannot agree that it should be the declared public policy of Illinois that a cat visiting a neighbor's yard or crossing the highways is a public nuisance. It is in the nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming. Many live with their owners in apartments or other restricted premises, and I doubt if we want to make their every brief foray an opportunity for a small game hunt by zealous citizens -- with traps or otherwise.

"I am afraid this bill could only create discord, recrimination and enmity. Also consider the owner's dilemma: to escort a cat abroad on a leash is against the nature of the cat, and to permit it to venture forth for exercise unattended into a night of new dangers is against the nature of the owner. Moreover, cats perform useful service, particularly in rural areas, in combating rodents -- work they necessarily perform alone and without regard for property lines.

"We are all interested in protecting certain varieties of birds. That cats destroy some birds, I well know, but I believe this legislation would further but little the worthy cause to which its proponents give such unselfish effort. The problem of cat versus bird is as old as time. If we attempt to resolve it by legislation who knows but what we may be called upon to take sides as well in the age old problems of dog versus cat, bird versus bird, or even bird versus worm. In my opinion, the State of Illinois and its local governing bodies already have enough to do without trying to control feline delinquency."
-- Adlai E. Stevenson, Cat Bill Veto, April 23, 1949

Debbie and Robert McCallum of the Seattle suburb of Edmonds hate cats with a passion. So, when Laura Martin's two-year-old adopted stray, Turbo (See photos above and below), wandered into their yard on September 13th they were ready for him.

After successfully luring him into a wire trap baited with cat food, they held him hostage overnight in their garage and in the morning handed him over to animal control. Turbo was taken to Adix's Bed and Bath animal shelter where he was subsequently reunited with Martin because he luckily was wearing a collar identifying her as his owner. Had it not been for his collar, Turbo likely would have been exterminated.

As it was, he cut his face in several places trying to extricate himself from the trap and a subsequent trip to the vet cost his owner $58.25. "He was cut to the bone on one side of his cheek," Martin later told The Herald of Everett. (See "Cat Trapping Leads to Spat.")

Martin is now demanding that the McCallums not only ante up for Turbo's veterinary bill but that they also be prosecuted under a Washington State law that makes it a gross misdemeanor to either take or confine a pet.

Predictably, the McCallums are bird-lovers. They raise quail although it is unclear if this is done as a hobby or a commercial venture. Whatever the case, they allege that Turbo is not only guilty of killing their birds but also of fouling their property with feces and urine.

"Cats belonging to two neighbor families use my yard for their personal latrine; they spray on my door," Debbie complained to The Seattle Times on October 11th. (See "Fur Flies in Neighborhood After Trapping of Errant Cat.")

When Turbo did not come home as expected, Martin spent several frantic hours searching for him in vain. "I was crying, I was hysterical," she told The Seattle Times. "I was out searching for him in the rain and dark with a flashlight," she amplified on her distress for The Herald.

Being not only inveterate cat-haters but sadistic and vindictive to boot, the McCallums ignored her cries. "I heard them whistling for him that night," Debbie later confessed to The Seattle Times. "I felt bad. But I wanted to prove a point: keep their cats at home, on their own property and this won't happen."

In Washington as elsewhere, the laws regarding wandering cats are rather convoluted. Although some cities prohibit them from roaming, Edmonds is not one of them. Furthermore, city law requires three complaints from three separate residences before a cat can be declared to be nuisance and legally trapped.

More to the point, killing wild birds is not considered to be a nuisance because they do not normally belong to anybody; hand-raised quail could enjoy an altogether different legal status, however. Nonetheless, it is perfectly clear that the trapping of Turbo was patently illegal.

As the country becomes more and more crowded confrontations between cat-owners and cat-haters are becoming more common. For instance, bird-lover Richard DeSantis of West Islip, Long Island has made a career of trapping his neighbors' cats and then turning them over to the local shelter to exterminate. (See Cat Defender post of June 15, 2006 entitled "Serial Cat Killer on Long Island Traps Neighbors' Cats and Then Gives Them to Shelter to Exterminate.")

Lacking DeSantis' guile, Charlottesville used car dealer George Seymour put a rifle bullet through the neck of his next-door neighbor's cat because he allegedly spotted her on top of one of his cars. (See Cat Defender post of June 22, 2006 entitled "Used Car Dealer in Virginia Murders Sweet Three-Year-Old Cat Named Carmen with Rifle Shot to the Neck.")

The escalating number of these disputes has led many municipalities to enact anti-roaming statutes, leash laws, and cat licensing requirements. This is not really anything new. Bird advocates have sponsored anti-cat legislation before but politicians used to have enough gumption and intelligence to say no to these evil individuals and groups.

For instance, on April 23, 1949 Illinois Governor Adlai E. Stevenson vetoed a law that would have restrained cats. "I cannot agree that it should be the declared public policy of Illinois that a cat visiting a neighbor's yard or crossing the highways is a public nuisance. It is in the nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming. Many live with their owners in apartments or other restricted premises, and I doubt if we want to make their every brief foray an opportunity for a small game hunt by zealous citizens -- with traps or otherwise," he sagely reasoned.

"I am afraid this bill could only create discord, recrimination and enmity," he continued. "Also consider the owner's dilemma: to escort a cat abroad on a leash is against the nature of the cat, and to permit it to venture forth for exercise unattended into a night of new dangers is against the nature of the owner. Moreover, cats perform useful service, particularly in rural areas, in combating rodents -- work they necessarily perform alone and without regard for property lines.

"We are all interested in protecting certain varieties of birds. That cats destroy some birds, I well know, but I believe this legislation would further but little the worthy cause to which its proponents give such unselfish effort. The problem of cat versus bird is as old as time. If we attempt to resolve it by legislation who knows but what we may be called upon to take sides as well in the age old problems of dog versus cat, bird versus bird, or even bird versus worm. In my opinion, the State of Illinois and its local governing bodies already have enough to do without trying to control feline delinquency," he concluded.

The McCallums, DeSantis, and Seymour are psychopaths. Not only are they bereft of an ounce of respect for either cats or their owners, but they have little or no regard for the law as well. They should accordingly be removed from civil society and locked away in cages.

It is also important to remember that birds are far from being model citizens of this planet. They destroy crops, set forest fires, spread diseases, and foul yards, streets, and streams with their feces and urine. Despite all of this, no one has ever accused a cat-lover of trapping and exterminating birds.

In addition to being psychopaths, bird-lovers are also hypocrites. They never go ballistic when deer, mice, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, and other animals trespass onto their turf. Nor do they ever seem to have much to say about air and noise pollution from automobiles, airplanes, factories, and their neighbors' houses wafting into their yards. In fact, some studies have found that noise pollution impedes the ability of songbirds to teach their offsprings to sing. Despite all of this, it is only the sight of a cat that brings out the homicidal urges in bird-lovers.

No mentally balanced person behaves in such a manner. Any halfway rational person knows that unwanted felines can be easily deterred through the judicious use of nonviolent water, scent, and noise repellents. Bird feeders can also be relocated to the tops of tall poles.

The sad truth of the matter is that this society is chock-full of cat-haters who are not the least bit hesitant about taking the law into their own hands and killing cats. It is therefore incumbent upon all cat owners to be constantly on the lookout for these monsters and to take measures to ensure the well-being of their cats.

Cats deserve time outdoors but they need to be under supervision. Fenced-in yards and patios are ideas worth exploring as well as training a cat to walk on a leash. Should worse come to worse, cat owners would be well advised to sell out and move if they discover that bird-lovers are living in the neighborhood. These psychopaths are not only dangerous but unpredictable as well.

Finally, the fact that there are people in this world who purposefully trap cats just so that they can give them to shelters to exterminate is another good reason that both shelters and pet genocide should be outlawed. Moreover, shelters are so derelict in their duties that they do not even require proof that a person surrendering a cat is in fact the cat's lawful owner! It is truly amazing that shelters have not been subjected to a torrent of wrongful death lawsuits.

Some shelters, such as the one in Hollister, California, even have the chutzpah to charge pet owners a fee in order to reclaim cats and dogs that were illegally trapped and surrendered. That was the situation that Brandie Locke found herself in when her beagle, Lady (See photo above), unexpectedly turned up at the shelter. (See The Pinnacle, October 27, 2006, "Property Owners Vs. Pet Owners.")

As was the case with Turbo, Lady was wearing tags and as the result she was soon reunited with her owner. Sadly, thousands of cats and dogs are not nearly so lucky.

Photos: John Lok of The Seattle Times (Laura Martin and Turbo), Jennifer Buchanan of The Herald (Martin and Turbo), and Danielle Stolman of The Pinnacle (Brandie Locke and Lady).

Friday, October 27, 2006

Tiny Kitten Named Zoe Has Her Ears Cut Off by Fiends But Texas Police Do Not Seem to Care

"I want to put these people in jail."
-- Lexy Webb, age 7

When country veterinarian turned writer James Herriot wrote that "all things were possible with cats because some people seem to regard them as fair game for any cruelty" he certainly knew what he was talking about.

Back in mid-September someone or some persons took either a pair of scissors or a knife and cut off the ears of tiny kitten named Zoe (See photos above and below) in Kingsville, Texas. Home to about thirty-thousand residents, Kingsville is located fifty-five kilometers from Corpus Christi.

Although Zoe is otherwise making a good recovery, her ears are, sadly, gone forever. Because a cat's ears are comprised of cartilage, hers will not grow back; skin will, however, reform over the scabs.

So far the perpetrators of this heinous crime have not been apprehended and, more shockingly, they probably never will be because animal cruelty cases are not a priority in Kingsville. "Police have their priorities and I'd like to think that in the future the police and sheriff's department will both become more interested in animal cruelty cases," Suzan Smith of Animal Rescue Kleberg (ARK) told KRIS-TV of Corpus Christi on October 2nd. (See "Kitten Recovering After Ears Were Cut Off.")

Luckily, Zoe was found by a good Samaritan who promptly delivered her to ARK. "A family brought her in to our headquarters and turned her in," Smith recalled. "It was apparently a flesh wound. Both ears were fresh and still bleeding. So we took her out to animal medical clinic."

Zoe is currently being cared for by Melissa Webb and her seven-year-old daughter, Lexy. "We keep it (sic) moistened with the antibiotic cream so it doesn't dry out too much. That's about it," Melissa told KRIS-TV. "She's like a regular kitten, very rambunctious, and loves to chew on everything."

It was her young daughter, however, who spoke up for cat-lovers all over the world when she declared, "I want to put these people in jail."

It is not known if the Webbs plan on adopting Zoe or to what extent her hearing has been impaired. Although the surgery would be expensive, it might be possible to graft new ears onto her little head or to fit her with a prosthesis.

In 2004, researchers at the Bridgestone Tire Company working in conjunction with the University of Tokyo developed a rubber tail fin for a dolphin named Fuji at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium and now officials at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida hope to do the same thing for a bottlenose dolphin named Winter. (See photo below).

Advances are being made every day in developing prosthetic appendages for different types of animals so it is conceivable that Zoe might some day get a new pair of ears. Money will be a big obstacle, however. For instance, Fuji's tail fin cost $100,000.

In the meantime the law enforcement community's lackadaisical response to Zoe's mutilation is inexcusable. It is therefore incumbent upon cat advocates to exert pressure upon the police to bring the perpetrators of this despicable crime to justice.

Photos: KRIS-TV (Zoe) and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (Winter).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

South Africans Evict Cats from Parliament in Cape Town and Imprison Them in Mandela's Old Hellhole

During the heyday of apartheid, South Africa was known as a bastion of racism, violence, disease, and naked exploitation of both man and nature. Under new management, the most odious aspects of institutionalized racism have pretty much disappeared but crime, corruption, and AIDS remain rampant.

Another constant in South African society is the systematic abuse and extermination of cats who have fared no better under black rule than they did under the colonialists. A good case in point was the South Africans' recent decision to forcibly remove a colony of feral cats from the grounds of Parliament in Cape Town (See photo above) and transfer them to Pollsmoor Prison in the suburb of Tokai.

Pollsmoor is a notorious maximum-security hellhole that is known for murders, gang violence, and sexual assaults. Home to more than seven-thousand hardened criminals and a staff of thirteen-hundred, the facility once housed Nelson Mandela (See photo below) and the Scissor Murderess, Marlene Lehnberg.

The cats are being trapped and removed from Parliament because they are allegedly stinking up the grounds with their feces and urine and thereby creating a health hazard. "People complained to the committee because of the smell and it was decided that the airborne bacteria from their feces was a health risk," Amanda Kleyn, who works for Parliament and has been feeding the cats, told The Pretoria News on September 15th. (See "Parliament's 'Fat Cats' Off to Jail.")

The capitalist media is silent on the number of cats involved. All that has been reported so far is that the cats will be tested for disease and sterilized before being taken to Pollsmoor. This lack of candor can be attributed to the probability that a significant number of them will be exterminated under one pretext or another and will therefore never make it to the prison.

Moreover, life will be extremely difficult for even those cats that are relocated because they will be expected to catch mice for the bulk of their sustenance. "Their food supplies will be quite meager," Andries Venter of the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, which has agreed to trap and relocate the cats, confessed to The Pretoria News.

He went on to lie through his teeth by declaring, "Hungry cats make better rat-catchers." Au contraire, in his seminal work, The Tiger in the House, noted feline authority Carl Van Vechten arrives at the exact opposite conclusion as do numerous cat-hating bird advocates.

Needless to say, if prison officials are unwilling to provide food, water, and veterinary care for the cats they are dooming them to brief, disease-plagued lives. Of course, this may very well be their intent.

Au premier coup d'oeil, it may seem odd that the SPCA would be involved in such a fiendish plot in the first place but this is merely par for the course as far as it is concerned. Zum Beispiel, the organization's Alan Perrins only recently assisted sharpshooters in gunning down cats on Robben Island. (See Cat Defender posts of March 23, 2006 and April 27, 2006 entitled, respectively, "South Africans, Supported by Ailurophobic PETA, Are Slaughtering More Cats on Robben Island" and "Cat-Hating Monster Les Underhill and Moneygrubbing Robben Island Museum Resume Slaughtering Cats in South Africa.") A few of these cats who were lucky enough to escape the assassins have also been relocated to Pollsmoor.

Prisons are not necessarily the best habitats for cats. First of all, communal living arrangements whether they be college dormitories, homeless shelters, or whatever are rife with communicable diseases.

Secondly, although introducing kittens to minimum-security and medium-security institutions has proven to be beneficial to both felines and inmates alike, forcing them to live with hardened criminals puts their delicate lives in mortal danger. (See Cat Defender post of October 27, 2005 entitled "Inmates at Women's Prisons in California Save Lives by Fostering Feral Kittens.") This is especially true of a society that is so violent and perverted that even college students kill cats for fun. (See Cat Defender post of September 22, 2005 entitled "College Students in South Africa Cook a Cat to Death in a Microwave Oven.")

Despite all of this, the cats' greatest danger at Pollsmoor will come from prison officials who, like those at Avenal in California, may attempt to exterminate them. (See Cat Defender post of September 29, 2006 entitled "Avenal State Prison Reverts to Its Old Ailurophobic Ways by Scrapping TNR Program and Cutting Off Cats' Food Supply.")

The absence of a bona fide animal rights group with unfettered access to the prison to monitor their well-being only underscores the perils that the cats are going to face in their new home.

Although no information is available on the web as to how cats living at Pollsmoor have fared over the years, apparently a few of them have managed to make it out alive. Par exemple, handsome little Percy (See photo above) has been advertised on Kitty Kat's website as being formerly from Pollsmoor.

If the South Africans were not so cheap and draconian they would allocate resources in order to find either good homes or sanctuaries for all of their homeless cats. Neither those cats from Parliament nor those from Robben Island belong at Pollsmoor.

Photos: Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Parliament), Center for Conflict Resolution (Mandela), and Kitty Kat (Percy).

Monday, October 23, 2006

Welsh Cat Named Max Is Reunited with His Happy Owner After Having Been Away for Two Years

"If only Max could talk then I am sure he would have an interesting story to tell."
-- Kim Davis

Because of his friendly disposition and the fact that he had been neutered, a ginger-colored tomcat was recently reunited with his owner in South Wales (De Cymru) after a two-year hiatus.

Convinced that the stray had at one time belonged to someone, Royal SPCA inspector Julie Fadden contacted a local radio station that in turn mentioned the cat on the air. When she heard the announcement Kim Davis immediately contacted the RSPCA and was soon thereafter reunited with her cat Max. (See photo above.)

"I am absolutely over the moon to have Max home after all this time," Davis is quoted on the RSPCA's website as cooing. "I was delighted that he recognized me and Duchess (her other cat) as soon as he came in the house. He has been sleeping a lot since he came back but he also still likes his cuddles."

The fact that Max was picked up by the RSPCA on a street where Davis used to live ten years ago is an indication that he may have attempted to return to his old home. This is mere speculation, however, because the RSPCA's website does not disclose his age.

Other than that possible explanation, Davis is as perplexed as everyone else as to why Max left home and, more importantly, what he has been doing during his long absence. "If only Max could talk then I am sure he would have an interesting story to tell," she observed.

Unwilling to risk losing again a cat that she has cared for since he was twelve-weeks-old, Davis plans on having a microchip implanted in Max's shoulder. Although they are an aid in locating lost cats, microchips also have severe limitations. (See Cat Defender post of May 25, 2006 entitled "Plato's Misadventures Expose Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats.")

Photo: RSPCA.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Animal Rights Groups Pressure San Antonio Officials to Stop Killing Cats in Japanese Tea Gardens

"They don't do damage and they aren't dangerous."
-- Pam Holiday, San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition

Animal control and officials from San Antonio's famous Japanese Tea Gardens (See photos below) rounded up and slaughtered three feral cats earlier this month. Two other cats currently being held by animal control because of health concerns could also be given the ax.

The trap and exterminate program, which was instituted because the felines are allegedly digging up flowers, has been temporarily suspended because of opposition from advocates for the cats.

The estimated forty-five to sixty feral cats (See photos above and below) who call the Tea Gardens home have been cared for the past fifteen years by the San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition and Purrfect Haven. These dedicated cat-lovers feed, water, sterilize, and provide veterinary care for the felines.

The advocates vociferously reject claims made by the Parks and Recreation Department and Animal Care Services (ACS) that the cats are damaging the gardens and are a threat to visitors. "They don't do damage and they aren't dangerous," Pam Holiday of the San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition told the local Express-News on October 10th. (See "Tea Gardens' Feral Cats Get a Reprieve.")

"It is not like they attack people in the park. Chances are no one is going to be able to get close enough to even touch them," she sagaciously added.

At last report the cats' fate will be determined through negotiations to be held between Parks and Recreation and ACS on the one side and cat advocates on the opposing side. "I have to deal with it in some fashion," Ron Smudy of Parks and Recreation told the Express-News. "So we're looking to animal control for assistance. But trapping is not an option at this point."

Since ACS' shelter is located next to the Tea Gardens, Purrfect Haven's Liz Skipper blames the pound for allowing cats to escape into the gardens. She also attributes the size of the colony to irresponsible owners dumping cats in the park and to homeless cats simply wandering in off the street.

This is a classic example of cat-hating public officials concocting a pretext in order to round up and exterminate cats. Even if the felines are digging up a few flowers this does not justify killing them.

The TNR program in place has worked for fifteen years and should be continued. Besides, the Parks and Recreation Department employs a myriad of gardeners who are paid to keep the gardens looking tidy. Also, people, moles, rats, rabbits, and other animals no doubt dig up and trample flowers as well as cats.

Photos: KSAT-TV, Channel 12, San Antonio (black cat), San Antonio Visitors and Convention Center (Tea Gardens), San Antonio Express-News (brown cat), and San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department (bridge).

Monday, October 16, 2006

Unable to Turn a Profit, California Cat-Cloning Company Goes Out of Business

The world's first and, as far as it is known, only cat-cloning company announced last week that it was throwing in the towel. Unfortunately, the company did not arrive at this momentous decision because it had belatedly realized the immorality of its work; au contraire, this was purely a dollars and cents issue.

In a letter to its clients, Lou Hawthorne's Genetic Savings and Clone (GSC) of Sausalito announced that it was not accepting any new orders because it was "unable to develop the technology to the point that cloning pets is commercially viable." (See San Francisco Chronicle, October 11, 2006, "Pet-Cloning Business Closes -- Not 'Commercially Viable'.")

Although since its inception six years ago GSC has successfully cloned six cats, it has been able so far to sell only two of them. It recently dropped its asking price from $50,000 to $32,000 but it was still unable to find any buyers.

As is the case with GSC, the public's lack of interest in feline clones was predetermined by their whopping price tag as opposed to moral considerations. Likewise, although many individuals would love to have one of Allerca's hypoallergenic cats, it remains to be seen if they will shell out $5,000 for the privilege of owning one. (See Cat Defender post of October 10, 2006 entitled "Dodgy Allerca and Dishonest CBS Join Forces to Market an Allergy-Free Cat Named Joshua to a Gullible Public.")

Ironically, it was a dog that led to the establishment of the cat-cloning project in the first place. Octogenarian John Sperling, who made millions as founder of the online degree mill known as the University of Phoenix, provided the funding so that GSC could develop a technology that would allow it to clone his beloved dog Missy who died in 2002.

Since dog-cloning is a considerably more complex undertaking, GSC started with cats but so far it has been unable to clone a canine. Disgraced South Korean stem cell pioneer Woo Suk Hwang of Seoul National University, however, claimed last year that he had cloned an Afghan hound named Snuppy. (See Cat Defender post of August 15, 2005 entitled "South Koreans Clone World's First Dog; Vivisectors and Stem Cell Proponents See $$$.")

Although Hwang's stem cell work has been unmasked as a fraud, his claim to have cloned a dog has not been challenged so far. It is curious, however, that GSC has not attempted to replicate Hwang's work. Of course, it is conceivable that Sperling may have diverted his considerable largess to South Korean researchers and this could be the real reason behind GSC's closing.

GSC has also stopped accepting donations to its gene bank and is instead directing interested parties to ViaGen, a biotech firm in Austin that specializes in cloning livestock. Regrettably, this could mean that ViaGen is planning to expand its cloning operation to include cats and dogs. So far, cows, horses, mules, pigs, goats, bantengs, rabbits, and mice have all been successfully cloned. Although at least two groups have claimed to have cloned humans, these assertions are generally thought to be false.

The unexpected closure of GSC's feline murder and torture factory was greeted with jubilation by animal rights groups. "It was just wrong on so many levels to start this business," Sue Leary of the American Anti-Vivisection Society in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania told the San Francisco Chronicle in the article cited supra.

"There were ethical problems. There were serious animal welfare problems. They were exploiting people who had lost a pet and were grieving. It was an impossible promise that they were making," she added.

What she is alluding to is the often overlooked fact that although it is possible to replicate the genetic makeup of a cat or some other animal, the clone will not be an identical replacement because its personality will be shaped by, inter alia, its experiences, training, and the type of care that it receives. Like man, all animals are the product of both nomos and physis.

Also, environmental factors such as the amount of pollution in the air, the addition of new members and pets to a family, and diet could also affect the development of a clone. Pet owners also change as they grow older. As the presocratic philosopher Heraclitus once said, a person cannot step into the same river twice because both the river and the person are constantly changing.

Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was also delighted by GSC's demise. "It's no surprise the demand for cloned pets is basically nonexistent, and we're very pleased that Genetic Savings and Clone's attempt to run a cloning pet store was a spectacular flop," he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

He went on to call attention to the cruelty and high failure rate inherent in cloning. "For every successful clone, dozens fail and die prematurely, have physical abnormalities, and face chronic pain and suffering. Cloning is at odds with basic animal welfare considerations."

The first cat to be successfully cloned was CC (Carbon Copy) who was born in December 2001 at Texas A&M University. She is alive today and lives with researcher Duane Kraemer (See photo at the top of the page). She was produced using the now antiquated nuclear transfer (NT) cloning method and, although healthy, she has so far been unable to conceive.

The first cat to be sold to the public was Little Nicky who was born on October 17, 2004 in Austin. An airline employee named Julie (no last name given) purchased him for $50,000. (See photo above on the right.) "He looks identical, his personality is extremely similar, they are very close," she told ABC-TV's Good Morning America on December 23rd of that year.

The second and last person to purchase a cloned cat was an investment counselor named Dan who brought home Little Gizmo (See photo above) on February 8, 2005. Little Gizmo is a replica of Dan's thirteen-year-old Siamese mixed-breed cat Gizmo who died in March 2004. He is quoted on GSC's website as exclaiming, "There are no words to describe how happy I am."

Peaches (See photo on the right), who is the clone of a two-year-old cat named Mango, is owned by GSC's Leslie Ungerer. Both cats get along well together and have been exhibited at cat shows.

The remaining two clones produced by GSC are named Tabouli and Baba Ganoush (See photo below) and they are the product of DNA taken from a Bengal cat named Tahini that is owned by Hawthorne's son. Named after Middle Eastern dishes, both cats have also been exhibited at cat shows and now live in the San Francisco area.

Although there is very little good that can be said for it, proponents attempt to justify cat cloning by arguing that it increases scientific knowledge and that this savoir-faire can be potentially used not only to clone service dogs but also to preserve endangered species of cats and dogs. (See Cat Defender post of September 6, 2005 entitled "Clones of Endangered African Wildcats Give Birth to Eight Naturally-Bred Healthy Kittens in New Orleans.")

These assertions are problematic to say the least. As it has been repeatedly pointed out by Rousseau and others, all advances in science that are not accompanied by similar improvements in morality and politics only increase the dominance of the few over the many and of man over nature. Par exemple, science produces far more inequality, despotism, pollution, and extermination than it does of the opposites.

Secondly, with millions of dogs being exterminated at shelters each year there is no need to clone service dogs; shelter dogs can be trained to aid the handicapped and to do non-hazardous police work. Unwilling to do this, however, most police departments import German Shepherds from Deutschland at a cost of $3,600 apiece.

Thirdly, because of the cruelty, high-mortality rates, and genetic defects it causes, cloning is not the solution to preserving endangered species. Only habitat protection and stringent curbs on exploitation, pollution, and development are going to save the animals.

Leary's and Pacelle's jubilation is most likely premature; GSC's closing does not mean the end of pet cloning. The super-rich, such as Sperling and others, will sans doute only redouble their efforts to clone their beloved cats and dogs. Moreover, somewhere down the line scientific breakthroughs may yet make pet cloning financially viable.

It would be far preferable if both the scientific community and cat and dog owners would pledge to honor the sanctity of feline and canine life and renounce pet cloning altogether. Losing a beloved pet is a terrible ordeal to go through but cloning will not bring it back. Adopting another pet or simply hanging on to the memory of the one that has departed are far more humane than cloning.

Photos: MSN (CC and Duane Kraemer), Associated Press (Little Nicky and Julie), and Genetic Savings and Clone (Little Gizmo, Peaches, Tabouli and Baba Ganoush).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Few Hundred Cats and Dogs Are Airlifted Out of Lebanon but Cluster Bombs and an Oil Slick Continue to Kill Animals and Marine Life

They arrived at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on the redeye during the wee hours of September 26th. During the course of the twenty-hour flight, their chartered Emirates Air Cargo plane made refueling and customs' stops in Manchester, England and Gotham.

With the exception of being stressed-out and suffering from diarrhea, the two-hundred-ninety-five new immigrants who deplaned in Las Vegas (See photo above) were all smiles, purrs, and whimpers. Despite the importance of the occasion, one perennially sleepyheaded feline (See photo below) found it impossible to stifle a yawn.

Having been plucked from the ravages of war-torn Lebanon by Best Friends Animal Society and Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (BETA), their bad times are finally at an end. No longer will they have to be on the lookout for either bombs falling from the sky or unexploded cluster bombs on the ground. Hunger, thirst, disease, homelessness, and fear are now only distant memories. (See Cat Defender post of August 10, 2006 entitled "Death Toll Mounts for Cats and Other Animals Slaughtered and Left Homeless by Israeli War Criminals.")

At McCarran, they were loaded aboard twelve trucks and vans and transported another grueling two-hundred-fifty-three kilometers to Best Friends' three-thousand-acre no-kill sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. Until new homes can be found for them the cats will be confined to crates inside large cages (See photo below) while the dogs will be held in wire pens. (See photo below.) During the interim, they will receive baths, health and behavioral assessments and, if necessary, be sterilized.

For those of them who have already spent as long as four years in shelters because of Lebanon's low adoption rates, the delay will be a bitter pill to swallow. Others, unfortunately, will require extensive rehabilitation. Three dogs, for instance, have lost legs, another one is blind, and one has lost the skin on his rump. About thirty of the cats are feral and will need to be socialized before they can be put up for adoption.

Nonetheless, it is only fitting that they have wound up in America because it was after all the State Department, in contradistinction to the French, that forced American evacuees to leave behind their pets. More to the point, it is the Americans who continue to arm and foot the bill for the Israelis' reprehensible conduct.

Upon their arrival in the Utah desert, staffers were sent scrambling for such mundane items as sweaters, blankets, heating pads, and space heaters in order to help their warm-weather arrivals adjust to their noticeably chillier surroundings.

The animals' joy was matched only by the sense of accomplishment shared by Best Friends' staffers. "I'm so honored to have been able to help with this," the organization's Sherry Shankle told The Salt Lake City Tribune on September 27th. (See "Hundreds of Dogs and Cats from Lebanon Are Safe in Utah.")

In order to prepare the animals for the long trip, eight staffers and Tucson veterinarian Chris Miller spent several weeks assembling, testing for diseases, vaccinating, deworming, microchipping, and documenting the cats' and dogs' age, breed, and gender. There was also a mountain of paperwork that had to be prepared in order to satisfy both Lebanese and American officials. The rescue effort, dubbed Paws for Peace, cost around $300,000.

Having spent two-hundred-forty-nine days rescuing stranded animals along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina, Best Friends is becoming an old hand at these types of operations. In New Orleans, for instance, it spent $5.8 million rescuing four-thousand animals. Amazingly, it has found homes for all of them except for about fifty dogs and a handful of cats.

Although its rescue mission in Lebanon has been completed, Best Friends is continuing to work with BETA in order to establish a permanent shelter and to institute a TNR program. Based upon what it has learned from its efforts in Louisiana and Lebanon, it now feels that it is prepared to mount similar rescue efforts wherever animals are imperiled.

So far, no one has hazarded a guess as to how many cats and dogs were killed and maimed by the Israelis' savage and illegal destruction of Lebanon, but surely the death toll must be in the thousands. In addition to bombs, starvation and disease have claimed many victims.

Fleeing residents also ran down and killed many of them in their haste to save their own skins at any cost. Other evacuees left pets to die of thirst and starvation both inside locked dwellings and chained in yards.

The Israelis' relentless bombing campaign has also taken a heavy toll on farm animals and marine life as well. In addition to starvation, unexploded cluster bombs continue to kill cows, horses, donkeys, and goats as well as people and pets. Endangered green turtles, loggerheads, migrating tuna and other fish as well as aquatic plants are slowly being suffocated to death underneath one-hundred-ten-thousand barrels of heavy fuel oil that poured into the Mediterranean when the Israelis bombed a power plant in Jiyyeh in July.

More than eighty miles of the Lebanese coast and at least thirty beaches (See photo below of a beach near Tripoli) are now covered in fuel oil. The tourists are long gone and fishermen are out of work.

Because they were intent upon inflicting as much carnage as possible upon the animals, Mother Earth, and the long-suffering Lebanese people, the Israelis refused to lift their naval blockade until September 8th and this has allowed the oil not only to spread but also to sink to the bottom of the Mediterranean. Underground and surface water supplies as well as neighboring landmasses have also been polluted. Kuwait, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, France, Italy, and the United Nations are assisting with the clean-up but complete recovery could take up to ten years or longer.

Arguably the most disturbing aspect of this catastrophe is that the Israelis and their enablers in the United States have once again gotten away with the commission of war crimes. If there was an ounce of justice in this world the leadership of both nations would be arrested and put on trial not only for crimes against humanity but also for offenses against the animals and Mother Nature as well. Sadly, Clarence Darrow was correct when he stated that there is no justice in or out of court.

Although pundits and commentators often speak of the innocent victims of war, they never mention the petit fait that it is the animals and Mother Earth who are the truly innocent casualties of all of man's conflagrations. The preservation of the beauty, uniqueness, and innocence of the animals and the environment should be sufficient reason for man to transcend petty politics and to put an end to all wars.

That is not about to happen, however, because the only use that most people have for either the animals or Mother Earth is to exploit them and as long as that narrow-minded view holds sway the killing and destruction will never end.

Photos: Danny Chan La of The Salt Lake City Tribune ( cats and dogs) and Friends of the Earth (Lebanese coast).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dodgy Allerca and Dishonest CBS Join Forces to Market an Allergy-Free Cat Named Joshua to a Gullible Public

Man's willingness to exploit the animals for both profit and power knows no limits and this fact was amply demonstrated for all to see when San Diego-based biotech company Allerca presented an hypoallergenic cat that it had produced to the audience of CBS-TV's The Early Show on September 14th. (See "Cat Who's Nothing to Sneeze At.")

Eighteen-month-old Joshua (See photo above) has medium to long, low-maintenance fur that does not shed too much. He and his younger cousins (See photo below) are said to be friendly, affectionate, and playful.

According to Allerca, these cats were produced through selective breeding as opposed to genetic manipulation. In order to accomplish this, the company isolated the gene that produces a protein called glycoprotein Fel d1. It is precisely this protein, which is found in the fur, saliva, serum, urine, mucus, salivary glands, and hair roots, that triggers runny noses, watery eyes, and itchy throats in an estimated one-third of humanity.

It was later determined that this protein is lacking in one out of approximately every fifty-thousand cats and this discovery opened the door for Allerca's selective breeding program. It is curious, however, that the company used American and English Shorthairs as opposed to Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, Maine Coons, and Siberians, all of which are reputed to be almost totally allergy-free.

Orders for the cats are being taken on the company's website even though delivery could take up to two years. Nonetheless, the company hopes to be able to breed four-hundred to five-hundred of them by next year and a whopping five-thousand of them in 2008.

The felines do not come cheap, however. Each kitten will cost $4,000 plus another $1,000 for shipping. Moreover, they are not for everyone. Recognizing that some individuals are too allergic even for these cats, Allerca tests not only all prospective buyers but also their residences before a sale is approved. Allergens can be removed from the environment but not from individuals who suffer above normal allergic reactions to cats.

The cats are also sterilized before they leave Allerca's laboratories in order to prevent purchasers from going into business for themselves at the company's expense.

Like cloned cats and hybrids, allergy-free cats are another bad idea from the money-mad, power-hungry scientific community. (See Cat Defender post of July 10, 2006 entitled "More Devilry from Scientific Community as California Company Creates World's First Hypoallergenic Cat.") Already exploited by vivisectors, dissectors, fur producers, ailurophobes, et alius, cats are now being treated in much the same way as meat-producing animals on factory farms.

If only one out of every fifty-thousand cats comes from nature allergy-free, obviously Allerca has to round up and test millions of cats in order for its heinous experiments to bear fruit. Where do the scientists, such as UCLA's Sheldon Spector, get this large number of cats and what happens to those who are not allergy-free? Allerca is silent on these vitally important points and the stooges at CBS and elsewhere in the capitalist media are not about to force the company to come clean.

An inquiry should also be made into the conditions under which these cats are kept. For instance, how long are they confined to cages and what tests and medical procedures are repeatedly performed on them?

Allerca's Megan Young told Los Angeles Times' columnist Meghan Daum on October 7th that its breeding facilities are "barrier free and staffed by experienced animal husbandry experts as well as professional animal socializers who play with the cats and get them accustomed to children as well as other pets." (See "$4K Cat Is Nothing to Sneeze At.") This response skirts the issue however and cannot be taken at face value.

Like their buddies in the media, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) does not have much interest in the welfare of Allerca's cats either. For instance, when the organization's Stephanie Shain was contacted by the Los Angeles Times she confessed to almost total ignorance of Allerca's activities.

She nonetheless pledged, for whatever it is worth, to keep an eye on Allerca. "Anytime we hear about someone tinkering with animals in a laboratory setting, we think we should know more about it. Our immediate concern is how are they creating these animals and what are the conditions the cats are kept in," she added.

Sadly, Shain is as full of it as is Young. Since Allerca announced its intention to breed hypoallergenic cats way back in 2004, HSUS has had plenty of time to investigate the company if it had any interest in doing so. God only knows how many defenseless cats these moneygrubbing monsters have tortured and killed while HSUS has been twiddling its thumbs pretending to protect the rights of cats.

If HSUS and other animal rights groups are either too lazy or too corrupt to investigate Allerca's crimes against cats, the California State Attorney General's Office should at least look into some of its shady business dealings and the secretive manner in which it operates. (See San Diego Union-Tribune, June 8, 2006, "Allerca Promises Sneeze-Free Cats.")

Better still, if Allerca is operating aboveboard it should be willing to open its laboratory to inspections by bona fide animal rights groups.

Also disturbing is Shain's admission that HSUS does not have a policy on breeding in general. With several million cats being exterminated at shelters across the United States each year and countless more being forcibly sterilized, any halfway intelligent person would be forced to conclude that any animal rights organization worth its salt would have at least a passing interest in breeding. Why should certain unscrupulous groups be allowed to breed cats for laboratories, circuses, pet shops, et cetera while other equally morally bankrupt groups are busy exterminating millions of cats that already exist?

Genetic defects caused by selective breeding are another concern. Although Allerca insists that its cats are completely normal, health problems have been known to occur later on in the lives of clones and hybrids and this could also happen to hypoallergenic cats.

The type of research carried on by Allerca and its partners at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla is not only cruel and inhumane but unnecessary as well. In addition to allergy-free breeds, simple and effective measures can be taken to reduce the presence of feline allergens in the home. For instance, regularly bathing cats, ventilating houses and apartments, and removing smoke, dust, mold, candles, chemicals, and pollen from the environment can greatly reduce allergic reactions to cats. Household items which tend to collect allergens, such as heavy drapes and carpeting, can be inexpensively replaced.

It is far easier and more humane to live in harmony with nature than to attempt to manipulate it for profit and convenience. Besides, an allergy-free Siberian kitten can be had for as little as $700 as opposed to shelling out $5,000 for one of Allerca's cats.

Defending the cats' exorbitant cost, company spokeswoman Dr. Bernadine Cruz told CBS-TV in the article cited supra, "If you are allergic to cats and have always wanted one, then you can't put a price on it."

She is dead wrong, of course. Everything in this world comes at a cost and the suffering and deaths of thousands of cats in Allerca's laboratories must be added to the already hefty price tag that it puts on its cats.

It is not only heartbreaking but infuriating to see cats treated in such a cavalier and demeaning manner. Like all animals, they are entitled to respect and to be left alone. Moreover, consumers who purchase these cats are just as guilty of animal cruelty as Allerca.

This is a no-brainer for any conscientious individual who wants a pet but is allergic to cats: either buy a Siberian or get a dog. Plus, by adopting a dog from a shelter a life is saved.

Photos: CBS-TV (Joshua) and Allerca (kittens).

Thursday, October 05, 2006

New Jersey Teens' Idea of Fun: Beat Up a Defenseless Kitten and Then Burn It to Death

"(They did it) for fun with intent to kill the cat. I categorize this as a despicable and cowardly act."
-- Pleasantville Police Captain Jose Ruiz

Atlantic City's suburban neighbor Pleasantville is not much of a town. In fact, it is little more than an impoverished, crime-ridden backwater of approximately seventeen-thousand residents. For better or worse, it is Atlantic City without the casinos.

It is therefore not surprising that at around 10 p.m. on September 25th a trio of no-good teenage punks with time on their hands and nothing to do with themselves were prowling the town's mean streets in search of a little action. Unfortunately they soon found their amusement when they stumbled upon a kitten only a few months old.

They first attempted to set it on fire but its fur would not ignite. Undeterred, they placed it inside a bag (See photo above) and tossed it around as if it were a football. They then threw down the bag on the pavement and stomped on the kitten. They next ran over it with a heavy object.

Really feeling their oats by this time, these juvenile monsters even tried unsuccessfully to entice a dog to eat the kitten. Miraculously, it was still alive at this point but the teens quickly put and end to any hope that it had of surviving by dousing it with lighter fluid (See photo below) and setting it on fire.

Neighbor Diane Turanicza (See photo below), who thought that the teens had set a trash can on fire, immediately called the Fire Department. By the time the firemen had arrived, however, the teens had removed the kitten and buried its charred and bloody body behind a house where one of them lived.

It was not until the next morning that an unidentified witness came forward and informed the police that it was a kitten, not trash, that had been set ablaze. The witness also led officers to the home of one of the perpetrators who was then taken into custody. He subsequently confessed to the crime and ratted out his two accomplices in the process.

The cat's remains were dug up by investigators and later collected by the Atlantic County SPCA. The youths were charged with animal cruelty as well as conspiracy and released. Because they are all under eighteen, their names have not been released to the media.

"(They did it) for fun with the intent to kill the cat. I categorize this as a despicable and cowardly act," Pleasantville Police Captain Jose Ruiz told The Press of Atlantic City on September 27th. (See "Three Teenagers in Pleasantville Charged with Beating, Burning a Cat.")

So far no one has come forward to claim the kitten's remains so it is possible that it was homeless. Although its ownership may be debatable, there is no denying that it suffered greatly and died a horrible, excruciating death.

"I feel a lot of pain, I feel sorrow, I know what it went through," Turanicza told NBC-10 of Philadelphia on September 26th. (See "Teens Charged with Setting Kitten on Fire.")

Nancy Beall of the Atlantic County SPCA was justifiably outraged. "I find it hard to believe nobody saw any of this going on and it wasn't reported so this poor cat could be saved," she complained to The Press in the article cited supra. "What a horrible way to die!"

Beall also expressed her desire to see the teens severely punished. "I think they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," she told The Press. "No negotiations."

Although these teenage monsters deserve the gallows, nothing serious is going to happen to them. Adults seldom receive anything more severe than slap-on-the-wrist fines for killing cats and juveniles rarely receive more than a good scolding. The sad truth of the matter is that the life of a cat is not worth very much in either the United States or abroad. (See Cat Defender posts of January 17, 2006 and September 22, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Loony Virginia Judge Lets Career Criminal Go Free After He Stomps to Death a Fourteen-Year-Old Arthritic Cat" and "Two New Zealand Teens Douse Three Caged Cats with Glue and Burn Them to Death.")

The kitten burning in Pleasantville is the third high-profile case of animal cruelty to shock southern New Jersey residents in recent years. On May 19, 2003, teenagers Matthew Ronneberg, Thomas Cavanaugh, and Matthew Mercuro broke into the Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey Township and beat to death eight exotic birds with shovels, rakes, and a pipe. Despite the horrific nature of their crime, they got off with probation.

On December 22nd of the same year, Robert Hewitt, Jr. and Joseph M. Newton, Jr., both adult employees of Ocean Cable Group in Somers Point, were arrested for dragging a cat to its death behind one of their trucks as they sped down the White Horse Pike from Absecon to Atlantic City. Hewitt drove the lead truck with the cat fastened to its rear bumper while Newton followed behind in his truck allegedly video recording the incident.

These cases highlight the urgent need for legislators to put some teeth into the anti-cruelty statutes by mandating substantial jail time for those who harm animals. Scoldings, fines, and probation have not deterred individuals from harming animals in the past and they will not work in the future either.

As far as juvenile hooligans are concerned, since their parents are totally unwilling to teach them right from wrong they should be confined to their residences by strict curfews. The teens in Pleasantville did not have any more business being out past 10 p.m. on a school night than did their counterparts in Fort Lauderdale who earlier this year beat a homeless man to death. (See Cat Defender post of January 26, 2006 entitled "Blood Sport, Bourgeoisie Style: Fort Lauderdale Teens Murder Homeless Man, Severely Beat Two More with Baseball Bats.")

Photos: NBC-10, Philadelphia.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Coyotes, Cheered on by Wildlife Officials, Join Raccoons in Killing Cats and Dogs in Washington State

Even though the citizens of the Evergreen State pay taxes to support supposedly competent wildlife management, the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) repeatedly turns a deaf ear whenever it is asked for assistance. Zum Beispiel, when residents of Olympia back in August asked for its help with a pack of raccoons that had been slaughtering house cats they were refused. (See Cat Defender post of August 28, 2006 entitled "Marauding Pack of Vicious Raccoons Rip Ten House Cats to Shreds and Terrorize Residents but Wildlife Officials Refuse to Intervene.")

Now the scene has shifted one-hundred-seventeen kilometers north to the city of Everett in Snohomish County and this time around the problem is coyotes who have been implicated in the deaths and disappearances of several cats and dogs. Aggrieved citizens have turned to WDFW for assistance but once again they have been turned down. City, county, and federal officials have also refused to help.

Five cats and three dogs have disappeared from resident Scott Olin's Silver Lake neighborhood during recent weeks and he strongly suspects that they were killed by coyotes. His own cat was attacked in his backyard but, thankfully, survived.

Like the raccoons in Olympia, the coyotes seem to be getting bolder. "It's the first time I've seen them that bold and that aggressive to actually come in our backyard in the daytime," he told KING5-TV of Seattle on September 21st. (See "Coyotes Observed to Get Bolder.")

"We need some help out here. I've never heard of the problem getting this bad before," he added in an interview with The Herald of Everett on September 18th. (See "Coyotes Growing Bolder.")

Olin's neighbor, Jean Schrier, lost his Shih Tzu to a coyote and resident Brad Gregory's orange-colored cat, Jell-O, has been missing for more than a month. Cats have also been killed by coyotes in the towns of Shoreline and Edmonds and a Jack Russell Terrier was killed in Monroe.

Despite appeals for assistance from Olin and other residents, WDFW claims that it does not have enough personnel in order to act. "Our policy call is not to control coyote populations or have the state control coyote populations, otherwise we'd need a staff of five-hundred people," Captain Bill Hebner of WDFW told KING5-TV in the article cited supra.

The only circumstances under which WDFW will take action against coyotes is when they become a threat to humans as happened in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue back in April of this year. On that occasion, two young children were bitten by coyotes in the first documented attacks on humans in Washington.

Coyotes also scratched and snapped at two women and charged at a man. Rather than trapping and relocating them, WDFW killed two of them in retaliation even though it is doubtful that they were the actual culprits.

As far as humans are concerned, Hebner does not believe that Washington State's estimated fifty-thousand coyotes pose much of a threat. "Your chances of getting hit by lightning are actually better than being attacked," he told KING5-TV.

In short, his advice to people is to change their thinking and behavior and stop bellyaching. "From a public policy standpoint, coyotes are not going away and we need to learn how to live with them," he told The Herald.

The WDFW accordingly advises residents to keep cats and dogs inside and not to leave any food outside. Even fruit trees and berry patches should be protected by fences. As for humans, they are advised to noisily shoo away any coyotes that venture too close for comfort.

The WDFW's hands-off policy does not sit well with resident Sue Gaffney. "You don't want to wait until something happens to do it. You want to prevent it before it happens," she told KING5-TV.

Canis latrans, or barking dogs, resemble small German Shepherds au premier coup d'oeil. Fully grown, they stand about twenty-five inches tall and weigh between twenty and thirty-five pounds. Their muzzles are narrower than those of dogs and they have shorter, bushier tails that they carry low to the ground. (See photos above.)

They have keen senses of smell, sight, and hearing. Being onnivorous, their diet varies from mice, gophers, beavers, rabbits, squirrels, snakes, lizards, frogs, fish, and birds on the one hand to carrion, grass, fruits, berries, pet food, garbage, garden vegetables, livestock, poultry, and cats on the other hand. Although many people consider them to be nuisances, they have garnered praise from wildlife officials for helping to keep in check the geese, rodent, and deer populations.

As is the case with all animals, wild or domestic, their biggest enemy is, of course, man. For instance, federal, state, and local governments as well as private livestock associations exterminate eighty-thousand of them each year at the behest of sheepherders and other economic interests.

Aside from man, their only natural predators are cougars, bears, wolves, eagles, and sometimes dogs. In spite of that, the majority of coyotes do not live to see their first birthday and even those who do survive infancy rarely live beyond four years of age.

Coyotes who migrate to urban and suburban settings, however, enjoy a life expectancy double that of those who remain in rural areas. In captivity, they have been known to live for as long as eighteen years.

Although they were unknown to the so-called civilized world until early European fortune hunters discovered them in the southwest, they are indigenous to North and Central America where they have long been revered by Native Americans. For example, the Navajos regard them as God's dog and the Aztec god Coyotlinauatl was honored by ceremonies in which tribesmen dressed in the hides of coyotes.

Coyotes were originally confined to the western part of the country but the eradication of wolves during the early part of the last century allowed them to migrate eastward. Today they are found from Alaska to Costa Rica and in all states except Hawaii.

They, along with raccoons, are only two of a handful of medium to large animals that have been resourceful enough to expand their habitats at a time when rural America has been disappearing. The reintroduction of wolves in many parts of the country could have a deleterious effect upon their dominance, however.

As the result of their eastward migration they have become fixtures of the urban landscape in many large cities. For instance, an estimated two-thousand of them live in parks in and around Chicago. They have also taken up residence in Rock Creek Park in the nation's capital and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

They are frequently sighted in Boston, Detroit, and West Warwick, Rhode Island. One of them even strayed into Gotham's Central Park earlier this year. (See Cat Defender post of April 17, 2006 entitled "Hal the Central Park Coyote Is Suffocated to Death by Wildlife Biologists Attempting to Tag Him.")

They have even become familiar sights on many golf courses, such as the one in the retirement community of Sun City, northwest of Phoenix. (See photo immediately above.)

Without a doubt population growth and development are partially to blame for the recent spate of violent encounters between people and their pets and coyotes in Washington. New Jersey, for example, has a similar problem with black bears. (See Cat Defender post of June 19, 2006 entitled "Irresponsible Cat Owner Allows Declawed Tomcat Named Jack to Tangle with Black Bear in Northern New Jersey.")

Food, either purposefully or inadvertently left out, is another factor. "Once individual coyotes become used to traveling during the day and used to receiving food handouts, they learn to be more and more aggressive -- (and) attacks on humans are the next step," WDFW's Steve Pozzanghera told KING5-TV on April 26, 2006. (See "Hunt on After Coyote Bites Two in Bellevue.")

Doug Zimmer of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Seattle office told The Herald that there may be a seasonal explanation for the coyotes' violent behavior. Young pups born in the spring are still maturing in the fall and as the result require more food; this, he reasons, along with the fact that families have not yet disbanded for the winter may account for the coyotes' added aggressiveness.

Other than keeping cats an dogs inside and not leaving out food, residents' options are rather limited. Fencing in their yards and crops is one option as is trying to scare off the coyotes with rubber buckshot. Property owners in rural areas may shoot them if they are either attacking pets or destroying crops but it is a crime to discharge a weapon in most urban areas.

Trapping is another option but both wildlife officials and professional trappers argue that it is seldom effective because coyotes are too cunning for most humane traps. Barbaric leghold traps are considerably more effective but they have been, mercifully, outlawed in Washington as well as in many other jurisdictions.

Unscrupulous individuals still use them, however, and cats sometimes get caught in them. (See Cat Defender posts of August 18, 2005 and December 24, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Brave Orange Tabby Cat Dubbed Hopalong Cassidy Loses Limb to Leghold Trap in British Columbia" and "A Cat Named Trapper Falls Victim to Another Rusty Leghold Trap in British Columbia.")

Wildlife officials' steadfast refusal to take action against both the coyotes in Everett and the raccoons in Olympia is outrageous. If they think that residents are going to sit idly by while their cats, dogs, and children are attacked they are crazy.

Coyotes and raccoons certainly have just as much of a right to life and liberty as do cats, dogs, and humans and people should stop encroaching upon their turf. That, however, does not rectify the violent situations in either Everett or Olympia.

In the absence of action by the WDFW, residents should look into installing fences around their properties but this is an expensive undertaking. They could, of course, confine their cats, dogs, and children indoors, but pets and people should be able to enjoy their own yards without fear of being attacked.

The excuses given by both wildlife officials and trappers for not humanely capturing and relocating problem coyotes are pretty lame. If they are too clever to be lured into traps, they should be first tranquilized and then relocated. Although it is not known how they pulled it off, it certainly did not take the WDFW very long to capture the two coyotes that it exterminated in Bellevue.

Because of their antipathy toward cats, wildlife officials no doubt have ulterior motives for not coming to the aid of aggrieved cat and dog owners. The disturbing truth of the matter is that many wildlife officials hate cats every bit as much as bird-lovers do and consequently they cheer every time one of them is killed by a coyote, raccoon, or some other wild animal.

A disgusting example of this ailurophobic attitude can be found on the website of the Natural History Museum of Los Angles County. Underneath the heading, "Coyotes: A Songbird's Best Friend?", there are two missing cat posters along with an endorsement of the American Bird Conservancy's Cats Indoors Program. The museum also approvingly points out that areas with the most coyotes have the fewest feral cats. (See photo above.)

Photos: Wikipedia (coyote in the forest), WDFW (coyote howling), Sarah Leen of National Geographic (coyote in Sun City), and Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (missing cat posters).