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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

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).