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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, January 30, 2006

Female Northern Bottlenosed Whale Dies in the Thames After a Botched Rescue Attempt


Londoners were treated last week to the rare sight of a whale in the Thames. Malheursement, the nineteen-foot female northern bottlenosed whale (Shown above swimming past the Houses of Parliament) was way off course and ailing after it had become separated from its pod. Rescuers sealed its fate by removing it from the water.

The whale, which is capable of diving up to three-thousand feet, was first sighted at around 8:30 a.m. on Friday, January 20th by a passenger on a train. A rescue effort led by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) group was mounted early the following morning but the mammal died at 7 p.m. that evening just before bloodthirsty veterinary pathologist Dr. Paul Jepson of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) was preparing to give it a jab of poison.

The rescue effort began near Battersea Bridge where rescuers steered the whale onto a pontoon (See photo below) in order to remove it from the shallow, brackish waters. It was then winched out of the water and placed on a barge belonging to the Port of London Authority; an inflatable raft was spread across the barge in order to lessen the damage to the multiple-ton whale's internal organs. (See photo at the bottom of the page.) Antibiotics were administered and the whale was wrapped in wet blankets and doused with water in an effort to keep it from dehydrating. Saturday evening it became disoriented and distressed and died, depriving its capturers of the pleasure of finishing it off.

The entire rescue effort was sheer barbarity and stupidity masquerading as compassion. First of all, the Thames should have been cleared of all water traffic in order not only to reduce the risk of collisions between the whale and boats but also so as not to add to the frightened animal's stress. Secondly, the whale should not have been taken out of the water under any circumstances. By removing it from the water the rescuers demonstrated that when it comes to whales they do not know their butts from a blowhole. The whale should have instead been towed to nearby marine mammal rehabilitation center where it could have been fed and medicated in a stress-free environment. For instance, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, New Jersey is able to nurse back to health and release 88.9 per cent of the marine mammals that it rescues. If no such center was available, the whale should have been towed to open sea, given food and antibiotics, and released. Even if it did not recover, dying in the open sea would have been far preferable to dying in the clutches of its so-called rescuers.

Man, however, is such a low-down, rotten scoundrel that he cannot keep his filthy mitts off of anyone or anything. Despite the millions of years that he has tramped this planet, his tuition has never gone much beyond exploitation and extermination. Whales and other animals should be preserved in protected habitats; all tagging, vivisection, hunting, and confinement in zoos and circuses should be outlawed.

Confirmation that the rescue effort had been botched came quickly in the form of an eight-hour post-mortem conducted by scientists in Denton, Kent which concluded that the whale had died of hunger and dehydration. The whale did have a minor cut near one of her eyes as the result of a collision with a boat but she did not apparently have any internal injuries. Further tests will be conducted in the weeks ahead in order to check for bacterial infections and the presence of pollutants.

Sadly, it appears that the whale was worth more dead than alive to both the rescuers and scientists. She has already been carved up and her bones given to London's Natural History Museum for exhibition and research. In a January 23rd report, the BBC was conspicuously silent as to the disposition of the whale's oil and valuable ambergris but it did venture to hazard that its carcass would be incinerated if it is found to contain poisonous substances; otherwise, it will most likely be buried in a landfill. (See "What Will Happen to the Whale Now?") It strains credulity, however, to believe that the authorities are going to allow all that valuable blubber to go to waste.

The BDMLR group has also profited nicely from its ill-conceived rescue effort. For instance, while the effort itself cost the group a meager $9,000, it has since received more than twice that amount in contributions. Furthermore, it plans to auction off on the web a red watering can (See middle photo above) which it used to hydrate the whale. The capitalists and many animal rescue groups have more in common than is generally thought; not the least of which is a willingness to do almost anything for a few bob.

Although the unfortunate whale need not have died, the throngs of concerned Londoners who lined the banks of the Thames last week testified to the metamorphosis which has occurred over the years in English public opinion regarding whales. As Jonathan Leake pointed out in the January 22nd edition of The Times of London, the English were not always so favorably disposed to these behemoths of the deep. For instance, whales which wandered up the Thames in 1240 and 1658 were routinely harpooned without an iota or either appreciation or sympathy. Even as recent as 1961 a sixteen-foot minke was left to die in the Thames. (See "London's Whale History: We Weren't Always Quite So Sentimental.")

A spokeswoman for the Fund for Animal Welfare, which was also involved in the failed rescue, told London's Independent on January 24th that the emotional capital built up by the effort to save the northern bottlenosed whale should now be redirected toward saving whales elsewhere. "Tragically, it's too late for this whale, but another 1,000 whales are currently in the sights of Japanese whaling vessels. Whales around the world face deadly threats -- from whaling by Japan, Norway, and Iceland, pollution and habitat destruction, and increased noise in the ocean," she said. (See "Experts Examine Thames' Whale for Cause of Death.")

For additional information on the Japanese's whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, see Cat Defender post of January 27th entitled "Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace Run Out of Fuel Leaving Minke Whales to the Mercy of Japanese Harpooners."

Photos: Port of London Authority (whale swimming and on pontoon) and BBC (whale on barge).

Friday, January 27, 2006

Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace Run Out of Fuel Leaving Minke Whales to the Mercy of Japanese Harpooners


After dogging Japanese whalers for more than a month in the waters off of Antarctica, both Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace announced late last week that they were abandoning the fight to save the minke whales and were returning to port in Cape Town. Both groups cited dwindling supplies of fuel and food as the reasons for throwing in the towel.

Relying upon a loophole in international law which allows whales to be slaughtered for so-called "scientific" reasons, Japan plans to kill nine-hundred-thirty-five minkes and one-hundred endangered seis this whaling season; over the next two years it will kill an additional fifty humpbacks, listed by conservationists as vulnerable, and forty endangered fin whales. The Japanese's justification for the hunt is, of course, a barefaced lie. The defenseless whales are being stalked and mercilessly killed for only one reason: money. The meat from the minkes, which the Japanese disparagingly call the "cockroaches of the sea," is sold as steaks and burgers and the whale's sperm is considered a delicacy. The photograph on the right above of a minke being butchered and the one on the left below of another minke stretched out for measuring are proof positive of the Japanese's true intentions.

Since the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling in 1986, the Japanese have killed at least 7900 minkes, 243 Brydes, 140 sei, and 38 sperm whales. Worst still, the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary where the hunt is currently taking place was declared off limits to whalers in 1994. Although seventeen world governments, including those of the United States and England, last week lodged a formal protest with the Japanese government over the illegal hunt, none of them has lifted a finger to stop it.

The hypocritical, phony-baloney United States has even dispatched a naval vessel belonging to its anti-piracy agency to the area in order to keep tabs on the activists and to assist the whalers! The Evil Empire's duplicitous conduct is exceeded only by its greed and lust for blood. Australia and New Zealand have likewise not only turned down demands made by the Green Party in both countries to intervene militarily in order to protect the whales but they have also vociferously attacked both Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace. Captain Paul Watson (See photo at the bottom of the page) of Sea Shepherd, who has labeled the two nations' inaction as "contemptible," told The New Zealand Herald on January 14th, "I think they're kissing the rear ends of Japan." The United Nations has been conspicuously silent on this grave matter despite the fact that its World Charter for Nature empowers individuals and organizations to safeguard and conserve nature in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

With the notable exceptions of the New Zealand and Australian press, London's Independent, and Reuters, the capitalist media have all but ignored the unfolding life and death drama being played out at the bottom of the world. According to Greenpeace, the Japanese have so far killed one-hundred-twenty-three minkes but with the whales' defenders having vacated the playing field that number is certain to grow exponentially up until the time the hunt officially ends in the middle of March.

As far as the combatants are concerned, it is truly remarkable that no lives were lost during the dangerous games that the two sides played. The Japanese, for instance, trained their water cannons on Greenpeace's inflatable boats (See photos above and directly below) and attacked their crews with metal rods and hooks. They also used their larger and faster ships to ram the activists' boats and fired harpoons dangerously close to Greenpeace's inflatable vessels. On January 14th, Greenpeace's Texas Joe Constantine was thrown overboard when a harpoon line became entangled with his craft. (See photo further down the page on the left.) His companions were able to rescue him but had not the minke died fairly soon he could have been dragged under the current.

For their part, Greenpeace attempted to obscure the harpooners' view by erecting walls of water in front of them and by positioning their inflatables between the harpooners and the minkes. They have also used their two main ships, Arctic Sunrise and the Esperanza to block the Japanese chaser ships from transferring their bounty to their factory ships. The photo at the very top of the page shows the Esperanza on the left attempting to prevent one of the Japanese's chaser ships from transferring its kills to a factory ship.

Sea Shepherd, which is headquartered in Washington State, took a considerably more militant approach to dealing with the Japanese. Not only did it ram the whaling vessels, but it also used steel cables to foul their propellers and a steel blade to cut open their hulls. Watson's flagship, the famed Farley Mowat with the Jolly Roger proudly billowing in the breeze, (See photo near the bottom of the page) is also equipped with a so-called goo gun which shoots pie filling and a helicopter which is used to scour the sea for the faster-sailing whaling ships. Watson estimates that Sea Shepherd's aggressive tactics kept the Japanese from recording any kills on at least fifteen separate days.

The transplanted Canadian who annually risks his life battling seal hunters off Canada's eastern coast, defended his actions in an interview with The New Zealand Herald by arguing, "When critics say we are going too far, our answer is that, for the whales, things have already gone too far."

Japan is not the only nation slaughtering whales. Norway will kill 1052 this year and Iceland will bag thirty-nine. Russia also kills an undetermined number of whales each year. Plus, aborigines in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Russia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines kill hundreds more each year using old-fashioned harpoons. If all of this were not bad enough, now the Caribbean and African nations want to get in on the killing spree. Although many people believe that their sudden interest in whaling is motivated by foreign aid received from the Chrysanthemum Throne, these nations are nonetheless expected to petition the IWC for permission to join the hunt at its powwow in St. Kitts and Nevis in late May and early June.

Despite the detrimental effect that hunting has on the more than eighty species of whales that are known to exist, it is merely one of several factors conspiring against these magnificent creatures. Commercial fishing has not only diminished the supply of fish and sand eels which whales feed upon but they often become entangled in huge fishing nets and other gear and thus die painfully slow deaths. Pollution is another concern and belugas in the St. Lawrence River have been found to contain high-levels of PCBs. Climate change is also putting southern right whales at risk of skin cancer because of the depletion of the ozone layer. A new high-powered sonar system recently developed by the Evil Empire's navy has been blamed for the stranding deaths of thousands of whales off the coasts of New Zealand, Australia, Washington State, the East Coast of America, and elsewhere.

In an article entitled "Whales: In Deep Trouble," published in the January 9th edition of The Independent, Philip Hoare took great pains to point out the hypocrisy inherent in the Americans' and the English's opposition to the Japanese's whaling activities. He correctly noted that up until the discovery of petrol in 1859 that the great cities of Europe and America were lighted with oil derived from sperm whales and that baleen was used to manufacture corsets and umbrellas. He further pointed out that before 1960 whales were used in the making of margarine, ice cream, cosmetics, and pet food. Even whale puke is valuable. Only recently a couple of beachcombers in Australia found 14.75 kilograms of ambergris, a wax-like substance belched up by sperm whales, worth around $1 million. The foul-smelling excreta is used as a fixative in perfumes, for medicinal purposes, and as an aphrodisiac. (See "Whale Vomit Worth Millions," The Australian, January 25, 2006.) Nonetheless, two wrongs do not make a right and the past crimes of the English and the Americans cannot be used as a justification for Japan and other nations, aborigines included, to continue their whaling operations.

Killing a whale has always been a cruel and agonizingly slow process. For instance, two-hundred-year-old Inupiat harpoons have been found embedded in the backs of bowhead whales. Today, the Japanese, Norwegians, and other commercial whalers use grenade-tipped harpoons (See photo above of a Norwegian harpooner) which are designed to kill instantaneously. That is seldom the case, however, and often the whales take ten or more minutes to die. If the explosions do not kill them, they often succumb to asphyxiation while their heads and blowholes are being held below the surface by harpoon lines. (See photo above on the right of a bloody minke which has just been harpooned.) Should they somehow survive all of that, the whalers finish them off with rifle shots to the head. Clearly, this barbarism must be stopped.

In so much that it has not stopped the slaughter of these magnificent creatures of the deep, the IWC is a miserable failure. Worst still, the political will does not exist outside the commission to stop the killings. The whales' only real hope at the moment lies with courageous defenders like Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace. As Paul Watson said in 2002, "We should never feel like we're going too far in breaking the law, because whatever laws you break to liberate animals or to protect the environment are very insignificant."

As for Greenpeace, it may have given up the battle in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary but it certainly has not eased up one bit in its publicity campaign against Japan. On January 19th, it took a fin whale which had died in the Baltic Sea town of Warnemunde and dumped it in front of the Japanese Embassy in Berlin. (See photo directly above.)

Watson, however, does not believe that publicizing the barbarous nature of whaling will ever lead to its eradication. On his web site he states: "Incredible amounts of money are spent on public relations, advertising, and documentation of the killing. The images are captured and distributed. We see the whales dying in horrific agony, and the killing continues and continues despite the protests."

Captain Watson is, of course, correct. A good public relations campaign is useless unless it is linked to a well-financed armed resistance. As Machiavelli said a long time ago, armed princes succeed where unarmed ones come to ruin. Therefore, if he can raise the money, Watson plans to return to the waters off of Antarctica this coming December with a faster, longer-range ship and to chase the Japanese out. For their part, the Nipponese have threatened in the past to call in their air force in order to protect their whaling fleet. Things could get bloody but for the minkes things are already bloody and deadly.


Photos: Greenpeace (Esperanza, butchered minkes, water cannons, whalers' attack, and harpooned minke), Institute of Cetacean Research (minke being measured and Texas Joe Constantine), High North Alliance (harpooner), DPP via Der Spiegel (Berlin whale), and Sea Shepherd (Farley Mowat and Paul Watson).

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Public Outcry Forces Army Navy Country Club to Scrap Plans to Evict and Exterminate Long-Term Resident Felines


The posh Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Virginia, whose ranks include past and present military and political elites, has been forced to abandon plans to evict and exterminate several dozen cats who, along with their ancestors, have resided on its spacious grounds for more than forty years. Relying upon trumped up charges from ailurophobes that the felines are diseased and vicious, the club angered cat lovers and some of its own members when it announced in December that the cats had to go.

Foremost amongst the cats' defenders was Democratic Congressman John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania who has been a member of the club for more than twenty years. This is the same congressman who late last year enraged Bush and his gang of war criminals, thieves, and inveterate liars by calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Speaking of the plan to remove the cats he told the Washington Post in its Christmas Eve edition, "That's just terrible. It doesn't meet the common-sense test." (See "Army Navy Club Going to War on Cats.") In the past Murtha has drafted legislation to limit the use of cats in military experiments and, more recently, to allow a wounded female soldier to adopt a dog that she had worked with in Iraq.

Over the years the club has even paid for the sterilization and vaccination of the cats (twenty-one so far) while caregivers such as Dottie Evans, wife of retired Rear Admiral Tom Evans, have fed and watered them. (See photo above of her.) On the average, volunteers distribute four-hundred cans of wet food and three eighteen-pound bags of kibble each month.

Luckily for the cats, a compromise has been reached between the club and their supporters which will spare their lives. The agreement does, however, call for Alley Cat Allies to trap the cats and to relocate them to a more remote location on the club's grounds. The club has also agreed to contribute $1,500 toward the relocation and ongoing desexing and vaccination efforts.

It is difficult to tell if this agreement constitutes a permanent solution to the standoff or is merely a temporary reprieve for the cats. First of all, cats are territorial by nature and have a tendency to return to their old haunts.

Becky Robinson of Alley Cat Allies is quoted in the January 7th edition of the Washington Post as saying that her group will teach the cats' caregivers methods which will keep them at their new location. (See "Stray Cats at Army Navy Club Win Reprieve, New Quarters.") She does not, however, elaborate on what these methods might be or their efficacy.

Nothing that Alley Cat Allies says or does can be taken at face value. A few years back, Cat Defender had a go at them concerning Atlantic City's famous Boardwalk cats and it took several months of correspondence before the group grudgingly admitted that it returned only forty per cent of the cats that it trapped at the Boardwalk.

Although when pressed on the matter Alley Cat Allies refused to come clean, it is pretty much a foregone conclusion that the remaining sixty per cent were turned over to shelters and exterminated. Furthermore, the group's volunteers do not do a good job of caring for the Boardwalk cats.

They only feed them cheap dry food and water -- no meat or milk -- and the cats' feeding stations and winterized shelters are often unkempt. Hopefully, the existing caregivers in Arlington will continue to be responsible for the cats' diet and shelter.

It is not surprising that the Army Navy Country Club attempted to do in its resident felines when one considers that the military's treatment of cats and other animals over the centuries has been atrocious. Not only are animals used as offensive ploys in war but they are additionally subjected to hideous experiments, such as being blown apart by bullets and having atomic bombs dropped on their heads. (See Shawn Plourde, "What Did You Do in the War Fido?")

Needless to say, military commanders do not care how many innocent animals they indiscriminately kill in wartime. According to Lancet, the Bush Gang has slaughtered 120,000 civilians in Iraq but does anyone know -- or care -- how many animals they have massacred?

More recently in 2002, the U.S. Navy implemented a ban on the feeding of homeless cats and dogs and outlawed TNR on all of its bases, both domestic and international. These disastrous policies have led sailors to poison cats with antifreeze and to suffocate them inside black trash bags at the U.S. Naval Base in Rota, Spain, and presumably elsewhere as well. (See photo above.)

Letters of protest against this barbarism sent by Cat Defender to Senators Ted Kennedy and Richard Lugar as well as to the Spanish government went unanswered. None of them care one whit about cats. They only things they care about are their payoffs and egos.(See European edition of the Stars and Stripes, April 28, 2004, "Navy Policy Has Compounded Problem of Stray Cats at Rota, Some Say.")

Photos: James A. Parcell of the Washington Post (Dottie Evans and cats) and U.S. Navy (Rota base).

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Loony Virginia Judge Lets Career Criminal Go Free After He Stomps to Death a Fourteen-Year-Old Arthritic Cat

Luke

J. Howe Brown Jr., a substitute Circuit Court judge in Loudoun County, Virginia, is obviously either crazy or an ailurophobe. In either case, he should be removed from the bench. Last week he let career criminal Peter Landrith, 39, of Leesburg go scot-free after he had earlier on October 7th found him guilty of maliciously stomping to death a fourteen-year-old, declawed, arthritic cat named Luke on October 15th of 2004.

For cosmetic reasons, Brown did give Landrith a three-year suspended sentence and place him on probation for five years. He also ordered him to undergo mental observation, barred him from owning any pets for the remainder of his life, and directed him to maintain steady employment and a stable living situation but that is all! After he had beaten the rap, Landrith turned to the courtroom gallery and grinned with evil pleasure. Earlier he had dismissed Luke's murder as a "smear campaign."

The case began when Landrith was living at the Leesburg townhouse of his then girlfriend Allyn Cornell. Also living at the residence were Cornell's thirty-one-year-old son, Chad, and four of Allyn's cats. Luke belonged to another of Cornell's sons, Brent, 25, who at the time of the attack was away on his honeymoon.

Peter Landrith

At the trial, Landrith treated the court to a cock-and-bull story about how he had stomped Luke to death after the cat had bitten him on the leg following a tussle over a tuna sandwich which he had dropped on the floor. Chad Cornell, however, testified that he discovered Landrith in a basement storeroom repeatedly stomping the defenseless cat inside a trash can. Landrith was also found to be in possession of a pair of latex gloves and there was a plastic trash bag underneath the cat. More importantly, there was not any tuna sandwich in sight and in fact a liverwurst sandwich which Allyn had made him for lunch was still upstairs on the kitchen table when she returned home later.

When Chad pulled Luke from the trash can his hind legs were bloody and his chest was heaving. The poor cat died on the way to the office of veterinarian Clinton L. Pease Jr. An autopsy performed later by Pease found that the blows which had taken Luke's life had also caused his stomach to fill up with blood.

Although Judge Brown told the courtroom that he did not believe Landrith's outrageous self-defense claim, he gave no explanation for letting him off without jail time. Landrith was shown at trial to be a convicted thief and drunk driver as well as a liar and a ne'er-do-well with no permanent job or abode to his name. Despite all of that, Allyn, who has since broken up with him, told the Washington Post by telephone that she was pleased that he had not been given any jail time. (See "Cat-Stomper Given Probation, Barred from Owning Animals," January 11, 2006)

The case attracted worldwide interest and the prosecuting attorney received as many as one-hundred-fifty letters, e-mails, and faxes from places as far away as Greece. Even the late comedian Richard Pryor and his wife, Jennifer, wrote to denounce Landrith as "clearly a threat to society."

The fact that under Virginia law the harshest sentence that Landrith could have received would have been five years in the stir is outrageous enough in itself. Moreover, Judge Brown's decision to let him walk is indefensible not only on account of what he did to defenseless Luke but because of what he is likely to do to other animals and people in the future -- regardless of whether he gets caught.

As for Luke, Brent Cornell testified that the marmalade feline, who happily wore sweaters and Christmas hats, was a passive cat. "He would sort of melt in your arms," he said.

Instead of being allowed to live out his remaining years in peace, this beautiful cat had his life horribly stomped out by a no-good, cat-hating psychopath. By setting Landrith free Judge Brown has joined the ranks of General District Court Judge Donald P. McDonough of Fairfax County who recently let cat hoarder Ruth Knueven off with a paltry $500 fine. (See Cat Defender post of December 23, 2005 entitled "Virginia Cat Hoarder Who Killed 221 Cats and Kept Another 354 in Abominable Conditions Gets Off With $500 Fine") The message from judges in Virginia is clear: kill and abuse cats to your heart's content and you will get away with it.

Photos: Brent Cornell (Luke) and www.Leesburg2day.com (Peter Landrith).

Friday, January 13, 2006

Montana Firefighters Rescue Lucky Calico Cat Who Was Caged and Purposefully Thrown into an Icy River


Regardless of whatever else may be said about human nature there is no denying that man is equally capable of unspeakable acts of cruelty and extraordinary displays of kindness. This dichotomy was never more evident than in the recent case of a calico cat named Lucky from Missoula, Montana.

Starved to the point of being little more than skin and bones and with fur missing from around her neck as the result of a collar which had been fastened so tight that it is a wonder that it did not strangle her, Lucky was locked in a cage weighted down with a sixteen-pound rock and then tossed off the California Street footbridge into the icy waters of the Clark Fork River. Fortunately, the cage landed on the ice instead of in the water and the poor cat was spotted by passersby on December 27th who in turn notified the Missoula Fire Department. Firemen donned wet suits and used a boat to save the cat from a sure and certain frigid death. It is not known how long Lucky had been in the river but more than likely she was tossed in on Boxing Day. There exists a certain percentage of pet owners who, not having the guts to either kill or abandon a pet on Christmas, have absolutely no qualms about doing the same thing as soon as the holiday is over.

The kindhearted firemen took the friendly cat back to the East Pine Street firehouse where they treated it to leftover turkey and a bowl of milk. Not wanting the cat to be put through any more pain, firefighter Josh Macrow, pictured above with Lucky, decided to adopt the cat as a present for his twelve-year-old daughter, Taylor. Speaking of the cat which he named Lucky, Macrow told the Missoulian, "It's the sweetest cat. It sits on your shoulder when you drive down the road and it curled up with my black labs this morning."

After the Missoulian broke the story it was picked up by CNN and this has prompted an avalanche of mail and phone calls from cat lovers as far away as the Netherlands wishing not only to thank the firemen for rescuing Lucky but also offering to help pay her medical bills. It is expected that the money already contributed will be sufficient to pay for her treatment with the remainder going to the Humane Society of Western Montana in Missoula.

As for the monster who tried to drown Lucky in the river, the Humane Society of the United States is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to his or her apprehension.

It is difficult to conceive of how anyone could be so morally depraved as to do what was done to Lucky. From press reports it does not appear that she was seriously injured from either her plunge off the bridge or exposure to the elements. Perhaps more importantly the tragic incident has apparently not shaken her faith in humans. With Josh and Taylor Macrow now as her guardians she will hopefully receive the love and care that she so richly deserves.

Not only is Macrow to be commended for his willingness to provide Lucky with a good home but praise is also in order for the entire fire department for mounting the successful rescue effort. The kindness and care that they have shown Lucky was truly beautiful. Tragic events like this do not always have happy endings, but this time around the forces of goodness trumped those of evil.

Photo: The Missoulian.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Four Black Bears Are Slain in Napa Valley as War Erupts Between Vineyards and Wildlife


"I don't see much difference between throwing a sandwich out the window for the bears in Yosemite Park and inviting them to dinner here by putting grapes out for them to eat."

-- Ann Curtis, Aetna Springs Golf Course

A war has broken out in Napa Valley between greedy and vicious vineyard owners and defenseless wildlife with the former hellbent upon exterminating any of the latter who dare to venture near their precious vines. Four black bears, two males and two females, became the latest casualties in this escalating cycle of violence when they were shot and killed by federal agents last fall after they were caught feeding on grapes belonging to the Aetna Springs Vineyard in the Pope Valley section of Napa County.

Under a barbaric pro-capitalist, anti-wildlife statute, the California Department of Fish and Game is required to issue an extermination permit to any vineyard owner who can prove that his or her vines have been damaged by animals. In the past, state and federal officials have acted at the behest of vineyard owners in order to slaughter at least two mountain lions as well as an indeterminate number of deer, turkeys, and wild pigs.

As the vineyard owners' lust for profits grows they keep expanding their operations into the mountains and wilderness where they increasingly come into conflict with wildlife. Aetna Springs owner Paul Maroon complained to the San Francisco Chronicle in its December 26th edition that since neither fences nor loud noises were sufficient to keep the bears away he had no other choice but to have them killed.

Bill Dakin, a retired San Ramon Valley Fire Department captain whose property is situated adjacent to the vineyard, begs to differ. In particular, he told the Chronicle that Maroon could have either electrified the fence around his vineyard or, better still, just accepted the fact that the bears were there first. Dakin's reasoning is buttressed by the fact that the previous owner raised grapes on that property for fifteen years without ever having to kill any bears. "All the time we've been here, we've kept quiet about the bears because we were afraid hunters would hear about them," he said. "We never dreamed this would happen. It just seems like such a crime -- they are such neat animals. There's got to be a better way."

The greed-inspired killings have left his wife, Gail, disconsolate. "It makes me sick," she said. "I've cried every day for the last four months." The photo at the top of the page was taken by Bill using a remote camera while the picture at the bottom of the page is of the couple standing alongside the fence where the bruins would slip into the Aetna Springs Vineyard.

Equally outraged is Ann Curtis of the nearby Aetna Springs Golf Course who has aptly labeled the killings as "wine for blood" and "life for profit." "It isn't just the bears. Herds of deer have been killed over the same thing," she said. "To come into a wildlife area and then kill off the wildlife is wrong. I don't see much difference between throwing a sandwich out the window for bears in Yosemite Park and inviting them to dinner here by putting grapes out for them to eat."

Not all wine country vineyard operators are as greedy and bloodthirsty as Maroon. Jerre Sears, owner of Black Sears Vineyards on Howell Mountain, told the Chronicle that she and other grape growers on the mountain try to live in harmony with wildlife and accordingly simply write off the grapes that they devour as a legitimate expense for doing business within their habitat. "We've had our vineyard for twenty years and we've had a bear in our vineyard every year. We feel it's just part of life, of nature, so we share," she said.

Mother Earth, the animals, and people in general would be far better off if more people shared Sears' philosophy; sadly, that is not the case. Multimillionaire winemakers like Maroon obviously have plenty of money to spread around and are thus able to get state and federal officials to do their dirty work for them. Also, environmental groups such as the Sierra Club who prefer farmers and hunters to developers often turn a blind eye to the crimes that these two groups commit. All of this needs to change. In particular, environmentalists who cozy up to farmers and hunters at the expense of animals are every bit as destructive of animal life as the developers that they excoriate.

Photos: Bill Dakin (black bear) and Kurt Rogers, San Francisco Chronicle (the Dakins).

Monday, January 09, 2006

Dodemus, a Sparrow Mercilessly Gunned Down by Domino Stackers, to be Exhibited at Rotterdam Museum


A hungry one-year-old female house sparrow (Passer domesticus) who back on November 14th flew through a window carelessly left open at an exhibition hall in the northern Dutch city of Leeuwarden and was shot dead with a Luftgewehr (See photo above) after she inadvertently toppled more than 23,000 dominoes has been stuffed and mounted and will go on exhibition later this year at Rotterdam's Natuurhistorisch Museum. The bird, posthumously named Dodemus (a combination of the Dutch words meaning sparrow and domino), will be exhibited, appropriately enough, on top of a box of dominoes.

More than one-hundred employees of the Dutch television station Endemol NV had been painstakingly stacking dominoes for weeks (See photo below) in an effort to break their 2004 world record of knocking down 3,992,397 of the tiles when the ill-fated bird flew through the window in search of food. After calling in a bird catcher who tried unsuccessfully to capture the sparrow, an employee of the network took aim and shot off its left wing and shoulder. Domino Day 2005 went on as planned and the television station established a new world record by knocking down 4,155,476 tiles but the innocent bird's senseless death justifiably outraged bird lovers in the Netherlands and elsewhere. It is a sad commentary upon human nature when a stack of stupid dominoes count for more than the life of a bird.

The Dutch Bird Protection Agency threatened to launch an investigation into the killing and an eponymous web site was set up at www.dodemus.nl in order to allow bird and animal lovers to express both their condolences and their anger. Although the site was temporarily commandeered by pornographers it is now back up and operational. Several Dutch radio stations even went so far as to offer cash rewards to anyone who would go to the exhibition hall and knock down more dominoes and thus sabotage the attempt at a new Guinness world record. Even though sparrows have been on Holland's endangered species list since last year, the shooter was let off with a paltry fine of 170 euros.

Since Domino Day was also carried live on the private German TV station RTL the bird's killing outraged animal rights activists in Deutschland also. The Deutsche Tierschutzbund demanded an apology on live TV from the event's moderator, Frauke Ludowig. "Eine Aussage von Ihnen konnte viele Zweifel am Image und der Einstellung zum Tierschutz von RTL ausraumen, auch wenn die Tatsache an sich tragisch und kritikwurdig bleibt," the organization wrote in a letter to Ludowig. (See "Erschossener Spatz erregt Tierschutzer," Stern, November 17, 2005).

Once Dodemus goes on display on November 14th, the anniversary of her untimely death, she will join several other unfortunate birds already preserved at the museum. For instance, there is a mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) who has the dubious distinction of being the first recorded victim of homosexual necrophilia, a woodpigeon (Columba palumbus) who was decapitated by a crow, and a water rail (Rallus aquaticus) who died while trapped inside a church.

Photos: Naturrhistorisch Museum (Dodemus) and Deutsche Presseagentur (domino stackers).

Friday, January 06, 2006

DNA Tests Confirm That Big Cat Killed in Australia Was a Feral Tabby and Not a Puma

Kurt Engel Admiring the Domestic Cat That He Shot and Strung Up

DNA tests conducted by Monash University in Melbourne have confirmed that a large cat shot by a hunter back in June in the Gippsland section of the state of Victoria was a large feral domestic and not a puma as originally believed.

The cat was shot and killed by Kurt Engel, a sixty-seven-year-old retired engineer, near Sale where he was hunting deer. He strung up the cat and cut off its tail which, at sixty-five centimeters, was almost twice as long as a domestic's tail.

Over the past few decades there have been hundreds of reported sightings of so-called big cats in the Australian wilderness but none of them have ever been confirmed. It has been theorized that these cats were either turned loose by circuses, zoos, or American airmen stationed there during World War II who had kept them as mascots.

In the final analysis it is not really important whether these large cats are pumas or domestics because the cat-hating Australians have vowed to exterminate all wild cats. Tant pis, as Agence France Presse reported on September 25, 2005 ("Millions of Animals Face Death Sentence in Australia"), the Aussies are not limiting their lust for animal blood to cats but they are also planning to exterminate millions of wild horses, camels, donkeys, pigs, foxes, goats, rabbits, and cane toads. In addition to traditional hunting methods, the diabolical Australians plan mass poisonings and machine gun massacres from helicopters in order to accomplish their objectives.

In light of their total disregard for animal life, it is not surprising that mobs of half-naked, beer-swilling white Australians were captured on film a couple of weeks ago by Stern assaulting people of Lebanese descent in Sydney. Many sociologists and psychologists believe that there is a direct link between cruelty to animals and violent crimes directed against people.

Photo: Brisbane Sunday Mail.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Miracle Cat Survives a Seventy-Mile Trip Down the New Jersey Turnpike By Clinging to the Drive Shaft of an SUV

Miracle

"I'm just amazed that the cat didn't fall off or get blown off. That's why we're calling him Miracle."
-- Karen Dixon-Aquino of the Animal Welfare Association

A petit eight-month-old gray and white American Shorthair survived a harrowing pre-Christmas seventy-mile ride down the New Jersey Turnpike by clinging to the drive shaft of an SUV. The cat, who had apparently climbed underneath the hood of the car while it was parked in Newark on December 23rd in an attempt to keep warm, was spotted through the wheel well by a passing motorist at Exit 4 of the Turnpike near Cherry Hill.

According to the January 3rd edition of the Asbury Park Press, the eagle-eyed motorist reportedly yelled out the window to the driver, "There's a cat under your car!" (See "Miracle Feline Avoids Real Cat-Astrophe.")

The driver then pulled over and rescued the frightened feline and took him to the Animal Welfare Association in nearby Voorhees. The cat's paws were burned, one claw was missing, and his fur was singed but he was otherwise unharmed by his nerve-racking ordeal.

Staff at the shelter have started calling him, appropriately enough, Miracle. "I'm just amazed that the cat didn't fall off or get blown off. That's why we're calling him Miracle," shelter director Karen Dixon-Aquino told the Asbury Park Press. The brave little cat is pictured above with veterinary technician Samantha Bosse.

At the time of his rescue Miracle was wearing only a flea collar and so far no one has come forward to claim him. Since the seven-day waiting period has elapsed, he has now been fitted with a surgically implanted microchip and is up for adoption. "We want to make sure he goes to someone who will keep him inside so he doesn't take another trip," Dixon-Aquino added.

Cold weather and warm engine blocks are all too often a lethal combination for homeless and lost cats. Although few motorists are willing to do it, anyone concerned about felines should look under the hood before getting behind the wheel, especially on cold days.

It is not only amazing that Miracle was able to hold on for so long but that he was not injured by the fan blades and other moving engine parts. He is obviously a very courageous cat who has a strong will to live. It is hoped that he will be able to find a loving home real soon.

Another wintertime hazard for cats is antifreeze. Conventional wisdom has it that cats, dogs, and children are attracted to the sweet smell of ethylene glycol, the active ingredient in antifreeze.

The Doris Day Animal League, which has been lobbying Congress to add Denatonium Benzoate (DB) to antifreeze in order to give it a bitter taste, estimates that 10,000 cats and dogs as well as 1,400 children are poisoned by the chemical each year. Cats and dogs come into contact with the poison from either engine leaks or when it is put out by evil people with malice aforethought.

A bill which would require antifreeze manufacturers to add DB to their products was passed by the Senate Commerce Committee back in November but is yet to receive approval from either the full Senate or the House of Representatives. The law, which is sponsored by Virginia Republican George Allen, would exempt antifreeze manufacturers from all liability associated with DB but not ethylene glycol itself; the industry is, accordingly, supporting the bill.

Although well intended, this legislation -- if it ever becomes law -- may not be of all that much help to cats who, due to a genetic mutation, are unable to taste sweets. This petit fait is the product of research conducted by Joseph G. Brand and Xia Li of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia and published July 24, 2005 in the Public Library of Science. (Also see the Washington Post, July 25, 2005, "Cats' Sweet Tooth Long Gone.")

Cats are, however, sometimes attracted to the smell of sweets or to the salts and amino acids in them. It is therefore unclear exactly what it is in antifreeze that cats find so attractive. Normally, they are so selective about what they ingest that they will eschew a bowl of water placed in front of them in favor of a trip to a brook out back in order to drink running water. In order to spare the lives of countless unsuspecting cats, considerably more research is desperately needed on this matter.

Photo: Douglas M. Bovitt of the Asbury Park Press.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Manhattan Court to Rely Upon 1894 Dog Law to Decide Custody Battle over a Russian Blue Cat Named Oliver Gatsby

Oliver Gatsby

A female attorney adopts a pure-bred Russian Blue cat from an animal rescue group. She begins caring for him and they become close. Almost a year later the cat's previous owner locates her and files papers against her demanding its return. So, who owns the cat?

That is the issue which the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan will decide later this month. Amazingly enough, there does not appear to be much in the way of legal precedent for the court to go on in spite of the fact that lost cats are a common enough occurrence.

For instance, millions of cats and dogs are adopted each year from shelters and rescue groups without either party knowing where the animal came from or who previously owned it. Likewise, caring people take in countless animals from the street every day. Most likely the difficulty involved in tracking down lost pets accounts for the dearth of litigation in this area.

The Manhattan case had its genesis in Missouri in 2000 when aspiring poet Chavisa Woods, then 19, scooped up off the street a six-month-old Russian Blue kitten who had been cruelly thrown from a car. She named him Oliver and began caring for him and treating his chronic urinary tract infections.

Woods and Oliver moved to Manhattan in 2003 and all was well until the cat slipped out of her Lower East Side walk-up in September 2004. Oliver was rescued from the street by an unidentified person who promptly turned him over to KittyKind, a feline rescue group which operates out of Petco's Union Square store. He was put up for adoption and immediately claimed by a female attorney who renamed him Gatsby.

Woods somehow managed to track Oliver Gatsby to KittyKind but when she demanded that the group turn over to her the name and address of the cat's new caregiver KittyKind refused and Woods sought relief in the courts. For its part, KittyKind did not contact the lawyer, now proceeding under le nom de guerre of Jane Doe, until it had already lost the case and was ordered to do so by the court. By that time Jane Doe had been caring for Oliver Gatsby for almost a year and refused to part with him.

In early December, New York State Supreme Court Justice Marylin G. Diamond ruled that the case was governed by section seven of the New York City Dog License Law of 1894 which gives owners of lawfully seized pets only forty-eight hours to reclaim them. Recognizing however that more than one-hundred non-profit groups participate in the Mayor's Alliance for N.Y.C. Animals and that these organizations often subcontract with private individuals to rescue and foster lost and homeless pets, Diamond reasoned that it would be practically impossible for pet owners to locate lost pets unless they were listed on the Animal Care and Control (ACC) register. She therefore ruled that the forty-eight-hour rule did not come into effect until the lost pet had been listed on the register.

Based on this preliminary ruling, the legal issues to be settled at a trial scheduled to begin on January 19th are as follows: When and if did KittyKind list Oliver Gatsby with the ACC? And, when did Woods effectively assert her claim?

Some of the Cats Removed from Marlene Kess's House

Press reports in the New York Law Journal, The New York Times, and the New York Daily News strongly suggest that answering those two questions conclusively will not be easy. Diamond has therefore raised the possibility that she may not limit a pet owner's right to reclaim a lost animal to the filing of a notice with the ACC.

The defense is expected to assert at trial not only that Oliver Gatsby is happy and well cared for by his new guardian but that Woods, now working in a wine shop in upstate Hudson, New York, is an unfit owner because she was out of town when a blind roommate allowed the cat to escape into the street. People considering adopting a cat or a dog are closely monitoring this case as are animal rescue groups.

Unless the court delineates some clear guidelines to be followed in cases like this, new pet owners and shelters could find themselves subjected to protracted litigation. Down the road it is likely that legislative action will be needed in order to deal with situations like these because the 1894 law which Diamond is relying upon has severe limitations.

Although it is difficult to predict how this case will turn out, Diamond's willingness to expand the inquiry beyond the formal reach of the 1894 statute demonstrates that she is sympathetic to the plaintiff's suit. It is also conceivable that, depending upon the personalities involved, the court might award joint custody of the cat or at least grant the loser visitation rights as it is sometimes done when pets are contested in divorce proceedings.

Since cats neither like to travel nor to have visitors this would not be in the best interests of Oliver Gatsby. The fact that KittyKind figures so prominently in this matter makes it highly likely that its rescue and adoption procedures will come under scrutiny at the upcoming trial and this may also lessen Jane Doe's chances of success.

The organization's founder, Marlene Kess, was caught last May with forty-eight live cats and more than two-hundred dead ones at her East Orange, New Jersey residence. (See Cat Defender post of May 26, 2005 entitled "Cat Hoarder Masquerading as Cat Savior Kills More Than 200 Cats.")

Compounding matters further, the SPCA caught her again in August hoarding more cats; this time around she was in possession of more than one-hundred cats. She is currently appealing a slap-on-the-wrists sentence of twenty-one days in the stir, a modest fine of $14,099, and a requirement that she perform three years of community service; that appeal is scheduled to be heard January 20th before Essex County Superior Court Judge Nancy Sevilli in Newark. Furthermore, it is likely that the SPCA will file additional charges stemming from the August raid upon her home.

It is stupefying that neither Petco nor animal control personnel in New York have acted to remove Kess from the management of KittyKind and to bar her from owning any more cats as officials in Virginia have done in the case of Ruth Knueven.  (See Cat Defender post of December 23, 2005 entitled "Virginia Cat Hoarder Who Killed 221 Cats and Kept Another 354 in Abominable Conditions Gets Off With $500 Fine.")

More to the point, cat lovers can only hope and pray that Kess's community service does not entail working with cats.

Photos: Chavisa Woods (Oliver Gatsby) and Mike Derer of the Associated Press (Kess's cats).