.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

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, August 30, 2007

Texas Couple Files Lawsuit Against Pest Control Company for Trapping and Gassing Their Cat, Butty

"He'd just been such a survivor. It was rotten it had to end that way."
-- Shelley Bolek

Animal Control and shelters kill so many cats, dogs, and other animals each year that it would not be inaccurate to refer to them as Murder & Slaughter Incorporated. Even though most people are largely cognizant of their heinous crimes, they choose to ignore them.

The same cannot be said for private pest control companies whose crimes against animals go largely unreported. In March of this year, ABC Pest and Lawn of Houston trapped and killed Patrick Boland and Shelley Bolek's cat, Butty, outside their home in nearby League City. (See photo above.)

Butty was apparently caught in a trap that ABC had set for raccoons underneath a neighbor's townhouse. In fact, an employee of the company later admitted to Boland that he had trapped and gassed the cat.

Company president Raleigh Jenkins was quick to contradict his subordinate's description of events. Arguing that his firm has never gassed cats or dogs, he claims that Butty was taken back to Houston in order that he could be turned over to a shelter but that he somehow escaped in the parking lot and is now gone forever.

Boland, quite understandably, does not believe a word of Jenkins' outlandish story and has filed a lawsuit against the company. Under Texas's draconian animal rights laws, he can only sue for the value of the cat and the authorities place little or no value on cats. He is likewise foreclosed from suing for the emotional stress brought on by the senseless and uncalled for killing of his cat.

"It's going to cost more to sue them than he's going to collect," his attorney, Neil Baron, told The Galveston County Daily News on April 26th. (See "Pet Cat's Death Leads to Rule Change.") "I think his point is to say that people don't have a right to dispose of animals like this."

Although the suit certainly will not bring back Butty, it may help to save the lives of other cats and dogs. Based upon the number of companion animals that have disappeared without a trace in League City, Butty's demise does not appear to be an isolated case.

This troubling case also focuses attention on just what a racket pest control has become of late. Unlike Animal Control, which is funded by the taxpayers and is therefore politically accountable to some extent, pest control companies are hired by private individuals and are therefore virtually unaccountable to anyone.

"These agencies are coming in here and charging per animal that they catch," Sara Dailey of Animal Control in League City explained to The Galveston County Daily News. "It's kind of easy money."

With that being the case, few pest control employees are going to think twice about snuffing out the lives of companion animals.

For her part, Dailey recommends that residents use nonlethal methods in order to discourage wild animals from frequenting their properties. Specifically, she suggests that they try installing outside lights, motion-activated lawn sprinklers, and use apple cider vinegar as a deterrent.

Butty's death has not been totally in vain in that City Council has passed a new ordinance that requires pest control companies and anyone else who traps animals to use only traps issued by the city. More importantly, all trapped animals must be turned over to Animal Control.

That is a step in the right direction but the onus is now on the city to enforce these new regulations. It should go even further and outlaw the killing of all animals by both public officials and private individuals.

New homes and sanctuaries should be found for cats and dogs while wild animals should be relocated to the countryside. This is the only sure-fire way to end once and for all time the tragic and senseless killing of domestic animals. (See Cat Defender post of June 5, 2007 entitled "RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated.")

Butty's murder is particularly tragic in that he had overcome so much during his brief life. He arrived at Boland and Bolek's residence seven years ago so injured that he could barely either stand up or eat on his own.

They generously provided him with veterinary care and he soon recovered. Because of his tendency to use his head as a battering ram in order to clear obstacles from his path, they named him Butty. He went on to become an indispensable part of their lives and he even got along well with the couple's Labrador.

Although he lived indoors, he was occasionally allowed outside but he seldom strayed far from home. Unfortunately for him, the trap set next door was just far enough away to cost him his life.

Although he was not wearing a collar, it is unclear whether that would have made any difference to the indiscriminate murderers at ABC Pest and Lawn. Nonetheless, all cats should wear collars. Even indoor cats can be inadvertently let out and wind up in traps.

As for Boland and Bolek, the pain continues. "We called him the miracle cat," Boland recalled. "He survived being homeless and feral; learned to eat lizards and live in the woods or under buildings."

Bolek put it succinctly when she said, "He'd just been such a survivor. It was rotten it had to end that way."

Photo: The Galveston County Daily News.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

TNR Programs, Domestic Cats, Dogs, and Humans Imperiled by Wildlife Proponents' Use and Abuse of Coyotes and Fishers

"That's neat."
-- University of Rhode Island wildlife professor Thomas B. Husband's gleeful response to a report that fishers had savagely attacked two dogs.

Cats, dogs, and even humans are being attacked all over the country by coyotes and fishers either reintroduced into urban and suburban areas or allowed to proliferate there by wildlife proponents. Already hundreds if not indeed thousands of cats have been killed as unscrupulous public officials and academic frauds are allowed to pursue an agenda that is all their own and at the public's expense.

Bearing the heaviest brunt of the carnage are feral cats, although domestic cats are no longer safe even in their own yards and houses. In 2004, for instance, a domestic cat was plucked from inside an open window in Rutland, Vermont and killed by a fisher.

Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR) programs, already under assault from bird advocates, PETA, and ailurophobes of all shapes and sizes, are especially vulnerable. In spite of this, Alley Cat Allies and other supporters of TNR have chosen to turn a deaf ear to this perilous situation even though they know better than anyone else that TNR programs cannot coexist alongside such proficient feline predators as coyotes and fishers.

"In San Francisco you have people who go out and feed feral cats living in the park. That is one of the absolute worst things you can do," Don Richardson of the California Department of Fish and Game told the San Francisco Chronicle on July 22nd. (See "Coyotes Commonly Under Foot in Cities.") "To a coyote, they end up having a huge population of feral cats to eat. And if they don't catch the cats, they can go and eat the food people leave for the cats."

Richardson rather conveniently neglects to mention that it is precisely individuals feeding coyotes that is causing a considerable amount of the problems. In fact, in Baghdad by the Bay's Golden Gate Park it was Richardson's agency that ordered two coyotes to be shot and killed on July 15th after they had attacked two large dogs as they were being walked on leashes by their owners. (See photo above of a coyote in Golden Gate Park in May of 2006.)

It is thought that the coyotes became violent as the result of an unidentified man feeding them raw meat every day out of the back of a van. (See San Francisco Chronicle, July 26, 2007, "Coyotes in Park Dog Attack Had Been Fed by Humans.") Other residents have admitted publicly to feeding the animals hot dogs.

In addition to becoming habituated to viewing humans and their cats and dogs as sources of food, coyotes are territorial. This has been cited as another reason why several dog-walkers in Golden Gate Park have been stalked by coyotes.

Nor is it merely cats and dogs that are at risk. According to the University of California's Hopland Research and Extension Center, coyotes attacked forty-eight children and adults in California between 1998 and 2003. That was a significant increase over the forty-one incidences reported between 1988 and 1997.

In addition to attacking dogs on leashes, they have invaded yards and attacked dogs and children. A woman was even bitten by one in a motel parking lot in South Lake Tahoe and a man reported having his poodle ripped from his arms by a coyote.

Whereas some wildlife biologists postulate that coyotes attack dogs because they view them as competitors for food rather than as sustenance per se, coyotes apparently have developed a taste for cats. According to Brian Murphy, a coyote enthusiast from Walnut Creek, coyotes have eliminated the feral cat colonies in the East Bay and have now begun attacking domestic cats in their yards. He, as one would expect, sees this as a good thing. (See Contra Costa Times, July 18, 2007, Gary Bogue's column, "Easy Meals Bring Coyotes to Urban Areas, Open Spaces.") This is no doubt happening to feral cat colonies elsewhere.

For Murphy, Richardson, and other wildlife proponents to single out feral cats as the sole reason coyotes have migrated to the cities is ludicrous. First of all, they have been pushed out of their rural habitats by developers, farmers, ranchers, hunters, and wildlife advocates.

For instance, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service exterminates close to one-hundred-thousand coyotes every year at the request of farmers and ranchers. With the cooperation of state wildlife officials, it also arranges for hunters to blow away thousands more of the animals. (See Cat Defender post of September 5, 2005 entitled "United States Government Exterminates Millions of Wild Animals at the Behest of Capitalists.")

In addition to people feeding them, cities are chock-full of garbage which in turn attracts rodents. Bird feeders are another lure. Clearly, coyotes get more nutrition from handouts, garbage, mice, and bird feeders than they do from eating cats and dogs.

In the Windy City, which is estimated to be home to around one-thousand of North and Central America's estimated ten-million coyotes, Animal Control has adopted a sensible policy of humanely trapping and relocating the animals to the countryside. "We're trying to do the ethnically correct thing with these coyotes," director Anne Kent to the Chicago Tribune on July 27th. (See "Coyotes One, Chicago 0, Experts Say.")

"I just want to make sure we are protecting the public from any incidences," she added. "It is also to protect the animal from anyone trying to feed it or chase it down or corner it so it attacks."

Wildlife ecology professor Martin Main of the University of Florida vociferously disagrees. "I think it is kind of silly," he told the Tribune. "You kill one coyote and another coyote will move into that neighborhood guaranteed. That's really a waste of time and money."

Why then is it that Main and other wildlife advocates are so eager to pimp and whore for ranchers, farmers, developers, and hunters? Why is it that they restrict their philosophy to urban settings? To put it succinctly, wildlife proponents are advocating that coyotes have an absolute right to live in cities where they kill cats and dogs and attack people but au contraire they have absolutely no right whatsoever to live in the countryside where they belong if they ever so slightly impinge upon entrenched financial interests.

The revolutionary scope of that proposed coup d'etat in not only wildlife management but domestic relations as well is startling to say the least. It does, however, have the advantage of being a win-win proposition for wildlife proponents in that it allows them to fatten their coffers by selling coyotes and other wild animals down the river to commercial interests while simultaneously providing them with a cover in order to kill cats and dogs with impunity.

Thomas B. Husband, a wildlife professor at the University of Rhode Island inadvertently gave the game away in an August 4th interview with The Providence Journal when he gleefully exclaimed "That's neat" in response to a report that two dogs in West Greenwich had been savagely attacked by fishers. (See photo above.) His exuberance is on a par with that of the New Jersey Audubon Society which repeatedly has praised the "excellent job" that coyotes are doing by killing cats on Higbee Beach in Cape May.

It is perfectly clear that Husband and his colleagues do not have a scintilla of regard for cats, dogs, or the sentiments of their owners. It would be interesting to know, however, if he would consider it "neat" for a fisher to maul to death a toddler?

Hunted almost to extinction during the nineteenth century for their valuable pelts, the reintroduction of Martes pennanti to the northeast began during the 1960s when wildlife officials transplanted one-hundred of the weasel-like animals from Maine to Vermont. (See photo above.) By the 1970s they had migrated into Massachusetts and in the year 2000 they were transplanted by wildlife officials to Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

So, whenever it suits their purposes wildlife officials are clearly willing to trap and uproot all sorts of animals. They also kill a lot of them through their tagging initiatives. (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.")

Today, fishers are found all the way from Maine to southern New Jersey and in their wake they have slaughtered hundreds of feral and domestic cats. (See Cat Defender post of July 19, 2007 entitled "Up to Their Old Tricks, Wildlife Officials Reintroduce Fishers to the Northeast to Prey Upon Cats and to Provide Income for Fur Traffickers.") Lately, they have started to attack large dogs and a rabid fisher even assaulted a woman in Schenectady County, New York this past winter.

In West Greenwich, a fisher bit Robert Beaudry's eighty-pound Alsatian, Holly, in the jaw back in July. (See photo below.) Because of the intransigence of state wildlife officials, Beaudry was forced to trap the attacker himself although they did later take custody of the animal. They have been equivocal, however, as to what they did with it.

Beaudry's neighbor, Darlene DiRocco, is forced to carry a baseball bat with her whenever she walks her Golden Retriever, Banks, after her dog was attacked by a fisher last month. "If it gets on my dog's back, I think I would whack it off," she told The Providence Journal in the article cited supra. "I don't think I would kill it, but it would hurt it."

Cat and dog owners must come to the aid of their beloved companions but they should be mindful that fishers are not to be trifled with under any circumstances. Dave Wydell, a resident of the Boston suburb of Arlington, found out firsthand just how vicious these animals can be when his cat was assaulted by one of them.

"One of the things raccoons do when you chase them away is that they just keep running," he told the Boston Herald on July 26th. (See "Fishers in Arlington? What a Scream.") "This thing stopped about midway down the steps and turned around like it was going to come at me. It was definitely mean. I think I would have lost my cat in another ten to fifteen seconds."

Arlington animal control officer Tom Quintal concurs. "They're probably the most elusive of any wild animal and they're also the most deadly when it comes to your pet."

Fishers were ostensibly reintroduced to the northeast in order to prey upon porcupines and to provide income for fur trappers. At $70 apiece, their pelts are six times more valuable than those belonging to mink.

Last year in Rhode Island alone eighty-three fishers were killed for their fur as opposed to forty-eight during the previous year. Slaughtering fishers in order to supply the European market for fur coats is clearly a booming business and wildlife officials are only too happy to assist in the carnage.

In the upstate New York community of Wilton, resident Alan Woodard estimates that more than one-hundred cats have been killed by fishers and coyotes during the past few years. He has lost three cats himself.

Speaking of the brutal murder of his five-year-old male cat, Puddles, back in June, he told The Saratogian on July 27th, "It was very traumatic. I still have nightmares about it." (See "Cat-Eating Weasels Plague Wilton.")

Rather than crying all day in his beer, Woodard has been canvassing the city for data on missing cats which he will later present to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in the hope of securing a permit to trap and remove the predators.

His case is weakened by the fact that the neighborhoods which have lost the most cats, Lake Elizabeth Estates and Mulberry Estates, are developments. In addition to fishers and coyotes, the area around Wilton is home to mountain lions, moose, and wolves. In this instance, it is humans who have wrongfully invaded and destroyed the habitat of wild animals.

In conclusion, the grand scheme hatched by wildlife proponents to use fishers and coyotes to kill cats and dogs is not going to be tolerated. Wildlife and bird advocates do not want to admit it but companion animals occupy a special place in this society and their health and well-being trumps that of wildlife.

There are an estimated sixty-million cat owners and an equal number of dog owners in the United States who spend a combined $41 billion per year on their companions. If wildlife officials think that these dedicated animal lovers are going to sit idly by while their cats and dogs are picked off one by one by fishers and coyotes their runaway egotism and hubris must have addled their brains.

Most cats and dogs are treated as family members. In fact, some owners are closer to their cats and dogs than they are to their spouses and children. Companion animals also enjoy certain protections under the law that are denied to wild animals. For instance, anti-cruelty statutes protect them from abuse and some of them, such as Leona Helmsley's Maltese, Trouble, are handsomely provided for in their owners' wills.

There is also such a thing as private property in this country and homeowners are not going to allow wild animals to trespass into their yards for the purpose of preying upon their cats, dogs, and children. No one but egomaniacal wildlife proponents -- and, of course, bird lovers -- would have the chutzpah to propose such idiocy.

If cities, such as San Francisco, want to provide a safe haven for coyotes in their parks they should fence off and close these areas to the public. Wildlife officials know better than anyone else that living in close proximity to humans irrevocably changes the dynamic that exists in nature between humans and wild animals.

More importantly, wild animals need habitats that are protected from developers, commercial interests, and hunters. Unfortunately, it is precisely these interests that wildlife proponents spend the vast majority of their time serving instead of the animals that they are sworn to protect.

The cavalier disdain that wildlife proponents, both bureaucrats and academics, exhibit toward cat and dog owners is all the more appalling because it is precisely these individuals and other citizens who pay their inflated salaries. The despicable conduct of these glorified welfare bums is symptomatic of a tyrannical public sector that at all levels pursues agendas that are inimical to the interests of the vast majority of people.

Photos: Jim Herd for the San Francisco Chronicle (coyote), University of Rhode Island (Husband), Merrily Lunsford of the Cape Cod Times (fisher), and Ruben W. Perez of The Providence Journal (Beaudry and Holly).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

An Alert Scrap Metal Worker Discovers a Pretty Penny Hidden in a Mound of Rubble

"I heard the faint cry of a cat, and found a tiny kitten wedged in a mound of scrap metal that was ready to be taken away."
-- Victor Stevenson

A beautiful seven-week-old kitten recently had a narrow escape in Chester, England. (See photo above.) After wandering into a recycling center, she was spotted at the last minute by employee Victor Stevenson just as he was about to haul away a pile of scrap mental in which she was hiding.

"I heard the faint cry of a cat, and found a tiny kitten wedged in a mound of scrap metal that was ready to be taken away," he told the Wrexham Evening Leader on August 14th. (See "Kitten Rescued from Scrap Metal Crusher.") "I carefully released her and rushed her straight to the vet."

Although her close encounter with disaster left her visibly shaken, she was otherwise unhurt. She spent a few days with Stevenson and his wife before she was surrendered to Cats Protection in Wrexham, Wales.

Because of her good fortune, she has been named Penny, as in lucky penny. "She is very lucky, and has certainly used up one of her nine lives," Vicky Keen of Cats Protection told the Evening Leader.

Although he dearly loves cats, Stevenson was unable to take on another one since he already has two of his own. "I don't know where this little kitten came from, but I hope she finds a lovely home soon," he said.

Besides his two cats at home, Stevenson looks after four sterilized moggies who patrol the grounds and buildings of the scrap metal recycling center. "Each day I feed them, so over the years they have come to trust me, and if no one else is around they'll even let me stroke them," he related. "If any of the cats are ill I take them to the vet and nurse them at home until they are fit for duty."

At Cats Protection, Penny will be microchipped, vaccinated, and treated for fleas and worms before she is put up for adoption once she becomes nine-weeks-old. Knowing that imprisoning cats indoors is cruel, the animal rights group will attempt to place her with a family that has a yard for her to play in part of the time.

"Penny is absolutely adorable," Keen said. "She has a turn in one eye which gives her the cutest of expressions. Sweet little Penny loves plenty of fuss and cuddles and would make a wonderful addition to a family."

She is also, like all kittens, playful and inquisitive which accounts for how she was almost recycled along with the scrap metal, Keen added.

Stevenson not only saved her life but the socialization that he and his wife provided her with has significantly reduced her fear of humans and transformed her into a more confident young cat. Coming as it did at such a tender age, it should greatly enhance her chances of finding the loving home that she so richly deserves.

Photo: Wrexham Evening Leader.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Indoor Cats Are Dying from Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Various Toxins in the Home

"While cats would naturally exercise outside, many cats are now housebound, perhaps because they live in a flat or because their owners feel that it is too dangerous to let them out, so they have little to do all day but eat, sleep, and gain weight."
-- Danielle A. Gunn-Moore, University of Edinburgh

The moneybags media and the blogosphere had quite a field day back in January when a grossly overweight moggy named Hercules accidentally got stuck in a doggie door while scavenging for food at Jadwiga Drozdek's residence in the Portland, Oregon suburb on Gresham. The twenty-pound cat had taken to the streets while his owner, Geoff Ernest, was away in a Seattle hospital getting a lung transplant. (See photo above of Hercules with Tiffany Noreuil of the Oregon Humane Society.)

He has since been reunited with his owner and although he has been diagnosed with the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), he is otherwise in pretty good health. For tens of thousands of other cats, however, obesity is no laughing matter.

It is common knowledge that being overweight and sedentary can lead to the onset of Type 2 diabetes in humans. Now, research made public a fortnight ago in Scotland has concluded that the same factors, coupled with being male and sterilized, is leading to an epidemic of the disease in cats.

Also, cats treated with corticosteroids and megestrol acetate have an increased risk of developing Feline Diabetes Mellitus (DM). Corticosteroids are used to treat, inter alia, shock, Addison's Disease, skin allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, kidney disease, cancer, and eye problems. Megestrol acetate, on the other hand, is used to postpone estrus in both cats and dogs and to treat feline skin disorders. Prior studies have also linked old age and dental disease to DM.

The study, published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, was conducted by Danielle A. Gunn-Moore, Theresa M. McCann, Kerry E. Simpson, and Darren J. Shaw of the University of Edinburgh's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine with assistance from Jennifer A. Butt of Mill Surgery in Perthshire. Last year, Gunn-Moore authored a study on feline dementia which found that a protein called Beta-Amyliode is present in the brains of both Alzheimer's patients and elderly cats. (See Cat Defender post of December 12, 2006 entitled "Breakthrough in Feline Dementia Research May Actually End Up Killing More Cats Than It Saves.")

The current study looked at more than fourteen-thousand cats that were insured by Pet Protect and found that sixty-one of them suffered from DM. That works out to one in every two-hundred-thirty cats in the United Kingdom and of these between eighty-five and ninety-five per cent were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

By comparison, studies conducted within the past decade have found even higher incidences of the disease elsewhere. For instance, in Australia one out of every one-hundred-seventy-nine cats was found to be diabetic whereas in North America the ratio was an alarming one out of every eighty-one cats!

The data on the risk factors involved in DM were obtained by convenience-sampling questionnaires mailed to cat owners. Owners were asked to supply information regarding, inter alia, breed, sex, age, birth weight, and adult weight. Information was also solicited regarding sterilization, activity levels, diet, vaccinations, and medications.

The researchers' methodology suffers from two rather obvious flaws. First of all, the study dealt with only insured cats as opposed to having been a randomized sample of all domestic cats living in the United Kingdom. Secondly, some respondents could have provided less than accurate responses to the questionnaires.

Despite these shortcomings, the research demonstrates conclusively that DM is now a major threat to the well-being of cats in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. As far as specific breeds are concerned, the disease was found to be three times more prevalent in Burmese cats than in any other pedigree with one out of every fifty-seven of these cats afflicted. (See photo above of a chocolate-colored English Burmese cat.)

Other studies have concluded that a staggering ten per cent of New Zealand's Burmese cats are born with DM. Gunn-Moore and her colleagues suspect that the breed's proclivity to put on fat around the abdomen could be the cause of the problem.

Just as is the case with individuals, the disease is most often fatal in cats unless they are given daily insulin injections and are put on a special diet. Excessive urination, thirst, lethargy, and neuropathy are classic signs of DM in cats.

Quite often cat owners are either unwilling to foot the bill for the insulin or do not want to go to the additional trouble of caring for a diabetic cat and this prompts them to abandon their beloved companions at shelters where they are most often killed. Dogs are also susceptible to the disease and it is estimated that forty per cent of those living in the United Kingdom are overweight and of these twenty-five per cent are obese.

Gunn-Moore blames lifestyle changes for the increase in feline DM. "They (cats) are tending to eat too much, gain weight, and take less exercise," she told The Daily Telegraph on August 8th. (See "Britain's Fat Cats Face Obesity Crisis.") "Unfortunately, just like people, cats will overeat if they are offered too much tasty food, particularly if they are bored and have little else to do."

Gunn-Moore and her colleagues do not broach the subject, but all commercial cat food is not only pure garbage but leads to a host of health problems as well. (See Animal Protection Institute's online publication, "What's Really in Pet Food.")

People take it for granted, but commercial pet food has only been on the market since the 1950s. Before then, cats ate table scraps and whatever mice and other small animals that they were able to catch.

Consequently, some feline nutritionists believe that cats should be fed a diet that best mimics what they would eat in the wild. This means either raw or only slightly cooked meat with a few vegetables, fruits, and grains mixed in as well. It is also a good idea to sprinkle in probiotics. (See Michelle Bernard's 2003 tome entitled "Raising Cats Naturally: How to Care for Your Cat the Way Nature Intended.")

Cooping up cats inside is as bad if not indeed worse for them as feeding them commercial cat food. Cats Protection in fact feels so strongly about this matter that it will allow only individuals with yards to adopt its cats.

"While cats would naturally exercise outside, many cats are now housebound, perhaps because they live in a flat or because their owners feels that it is too dangerous to let them out, so they have little to do all day but eat, sleep, and gain weight," Gunn-Moore said. That is obviously a huge problem without any easy solution.

Because of increased vehicular activity, most urban areas and even some country roads are too dangerous for cats. Moreover, there are many motorists who make a sport out of deliberately running down cats and other small animals. They will usually swerve to avoid deer but that is only out of a desire to avoid damaging their precious cars.

Tant pis, many cats are no longer even safe in their own yards because of the machinations of cat-hating wildlife officials who have reintroduced fishers and coyotes into urban and suburban settings to prey upon felines and dogs. (See Cat Defender post of July 19, 2007 entitled "Up to Their Old Tricks, Wildlife Officials Reintroduce Fishers to the Northeast to Prey Upon Cats and to Provide Income for Fur Traffickers.") Anti-roaming initiatives and leash laws are also impinging upon the freedom of cats.

The Pet Show's Warren Eckstein and others repeatedly argue that indoor environments can be made just as stimulating for cats as the wild and woolly outdoors but this is not true unless a cat owner has an especially large house or lives in a converted barn like Lilian Jackson Braun's fictional Jim Qwilleran. Needless to say, flats are hardly ideal abodes for even humans, let alone cats.

Even cat owners with large houses need to go to a lot of trouble constructing window perches, scratching posts, mazes, and miscellaneous exercise areas for their felines. They also need to be willing to devote time to playing with their cats. Some cats can be trained to walk on a leash but cat trolleys do not provide them with any exercise at all.

To her eternal credit, Gunn-Moore is one of the few specialists in feline medicine with enough integrity to call attention to the detrimental side effects of sterilization. For years, sterilization proponents have vociferously argued that it is a win-win situation for cats. They have cited lower incidences of prostate and cervical cancer, less roaming, crying, and spraying, longer life expectancies, and more docile cats as just a few of the justifications in support of en masse spaying and neutering.

They have deliberately downplayed the fact that sterilized cats, particularly males, have a tendency to put on weight which in turn leads to DM and other maladies. Moreover, sterilizations are not only traumatic, but sometimes deadly as well. Some cats die on the operating table because too much anesthesia was used while others die when their sutures break because they were not provided with proper postoperative care.

Some crude feline contraceptives are already available and more sophisticated ones are nearing development. If "the pill" is anything to go by, this is not necessarily a good thing.

For more than fifty years, physicians have been prescribing oral contraceptives for women that have led to, inter alia, a loss of libido and depression. In order to counteract these debilitating side effects, they have compounded the problem by putting their patients on antidepressants. Similar harmful side effects are sure to follow the introduction of feline contraceptives.

Neither drugs which disrupt normal hormonal activities nor sterilizations are natural and as such they have a tendency to create about as many problems as they solve. As Ovid once said, "Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret."

Traditionally, cats have gotten the lion's share of their physical activity through either hunting or roaming in the pursuit of sex. By attempting to convert cats into eunuchs and couch potatoes, advocates of imprisoning them indoors, such as the diabolical American Bird Conservancy and the phony-baloney National Audubon Society, as well as die-hard sterilization fanatics, such as Alley Cat Allies and all shelters, are doing irreparable harm to the species.

In addition to being harmful to their health, imprisoning cats indoors is cruel and unfair. Just like man, they are entitled to their liberty and that includes the right to hunt as well as to socialize with their fellow felines. They need the mental stimulation that accompanies being able to explore their environment.

They are equally entitled to experience the heat of the summer sun and the squishiness of snow underneath their paws. They are entitled to climb trees, roll in the green grass, and to experience the wonders of nature.

For her part, Gunn-Moore is rather reserved in her recommendations. "To reduce your cat's risk of developing this (DM) often fatal disease you need to keep them (sic) active, and not allow them to gain too much weight."

Her advise is, quite obviously, easier said than done. It is undeniable that mass sterilizations and indoor lifestyles are here to stay for the greater part of the feline world. No one should be duped into believing, however, that they do not pose serious health risks that must be counteracted.

For cats already afflicted with the disease, Lincoln Cat Care in Lincolnshire, one-hundred-ninety-two kilometers north of London, has jumped into the breach by inaugurating a novel program whereby it places diabetic cats in homes with diabetic humans. The rationale behind the scheme is that diabetics are not only ideally suited to look after diabetic felines but that they are also understanding enough to be willing to do so.

Twenty-nine-year-old Louise Ellerington of Saxilby is currently fostering a four-year-old diabetic cat named Mog. (See photos above.) "She's very easy to look after. She's a lovely cat who either likes to sit on the window sill or have a cuddle," she told the Lincolnshire Echo on August 6th. (See "Cats Home Aims to Match Ill Felines with Diabetic Owners.")

Although syringes cost $4.34 a week and a month's supply of insulin runs around $96, caring for a diabetic cat is not all that difficult. "You can tell when their sugar levels are not normal because they become lethargic or start to drink copious amounts of water," Ellerington explained.

"I have to feed her and give her insulin once every morning and evening to keep her sugar levels stable," she added. "But apart from that it's pretty much like looking after a normal cat."

The ink was hardly dry on Gunn-Moore's DM research when the journal Environmental Science and Technology on August 15th exposed another health hazard afflicting indoor cats. Specifically, it blames the steep increase in feline hyperthyroidism (FH) on the presence of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the home.

The popular flame retardants are used in, among other things, electronics, padding for carpeting, furniture, and mattresses. Long the scourge of older cats, FH has increased proportionately since the introduction of PBDEs in the 1970s.

Nonetheless, up until now the cause of the disease had remained a mystery. "Feline hyperthyroidism was never reported" thirty-five years ago, but "now it is very common," co-author Linda Birnbaum wrote.

The study was conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and involved the taking of blood samples from twenty-three indoor cats. Of these, eleven were found to have hyperthyroidism. Even more startling, the cats had PBDE levels twenty to one-hundred times higher than humans. (See photo above of O.P., one of the cats to test positive for FH.)

"We definitely found evidence that cats are being exposed to these compounds based on the level of compounds in their blood," the EPA's Janice Dye told Reuters on August 16th. (See "Household Chemicals May be Causing Cat Disease.") "Cats are in this perfect position to be near the products these chemicals were put in to reduce flammability. They're in our homes. They're sleeping on our mattresses and furniture."

Hyperthyroidism is characterized by, inter alia, increased appetite, unexplained loss of weight and muscle mass, irritability, vomiting and diarrhea, excessive thirst, and lethargy. It has been shown in lab animals to retard brain development, impair learning ability and memory, and to cause behavioral problems. In cats, it can be treated with drugs such as methimazole, surgery, and radioiodine (R131).

Since PBDEs are so prevalent in homes, cats ingest a disproportionate amount of them while grooming themselves. They have also been found in canned cat food that contains fish.

PBDEs are not only a problem for cats. Research conducted in both Norway and California has found elevated levels of the chemicals in the bloodstreams of toddlers as well. Most of them were banned in Europe and discontinued in the United States in 2004 but since they are so prevalent in the home they will continue to pollute indoor environments for a long time to come.

Although the authors decline the opportunity to make the obvious connections, this research has wide-ranging implications because cats are exposed to far more harmful chemicals in the home than PBDEs. First and foremost, there is cigarette smoke which accumulates in their fur to the extent that some cats reek of the deadly carcinogen. Marijuana, aerosols, and other toxins emitted into the air also settle in their fur and are ingested during grooming.

Deadly asbestos remains a serious health problem for both humans and cats. In particular, asbestos from W.R. Grace's vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana is estimated to still be in thirty-five million homes and buildings around the country. (See Living on Earth, August 17, 2007, "Libby, Montana.") In Libby, a town of only twenty-seven-hundred residents, more than two-hundred people have died from lung cancer and another twelve-hundred have been sickened by the disease.

To ensure the health and well-being of their beloved companions, owners of indoor cats should first of all replace all items that contain either asbestos or PBDEs. They should also refrain from polluting the air with cigarette smoke, aerosols, and other deadly toxins.

Apartments and houses should be ventilated on daily basis and kept immaculate. Since carpeting and heavy drapes collect so much dust and other particulates, they should be replaced by wooden floors and venetian blinds.

Perhaps just as importantly, owners should give their cats' fur a good brushing once or twice a day. Frequent baths or at least an occasional rubdown with a damp towel are another good idea. These activities also have the added benefit of helping to reduce the buildup of hairballs.

Photos: KPTV, Portland (Hercules and Tiffany Noreuil), Vik Olliver of Wikipedia (Burmese cat), Lincolnshire Echo (Louise Ellerington with Mog and Mog by himself), and Janice Dye of the EPA (O.P.).

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cri de Coeur: Heartbroken Cat Owner Offers Free Trip to Paris as a Reward for the Return of Her Beloved Maximum

"There is no such thing as 'just a cat'."
-- Mim Swartz

A Parisian tourist on holiday in Hollywood unfortunately has become separated from her eight-year-old gray cat, Maximum. (See photo above.) The cat disappeared the last week of July and has not been seen since.

Maximum's owner, Maral Sassouni, is quite naturally distraught at the loss of her beloved feline companion. Consequently, she is offering a unique reward to anyone who can locate and return Maximum: a free trip to the fabulous City of Lights.

Not only is roundtrip airfare included in the reward, but Sassouni will also throw in a place to live for two weeks. The housing is, incredibly enough, centrally located near both the Louvre and Notre Dame.

Maximum has been sterilized and is identifiable by a tattoo inside one of his ears. Since cats have a way of getting trapped inside shipping crates, moving vans, cars, and trains, Maximum could be almost anywhere by now and not necessarily still in the Los Angeles area.

Should anyone see Maximum, Sassouni can be reached at msassouni@free.fr.

France has long been home to some of the world's most passionate cat lovers and Sassouni's generous reward is an example of that devotion. The employees of Raflatac, a laminating and labeling company in Nancy, provided yet another example of heartwarming ailurophilia when in 2005 they rescued a cat named Emily that unwittingly had become trapped inside a shipping container in her hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin.

They also generously paid for the thirty days that she was forced to spend in quarantine before Continental Airlines flew her home gratis. (See Cat Defender post of December 9, 2005 entitled "Adventurous Wisconsin Cat Named Emily Makes Unscheduled Trip to France in Hold of Cargo Ship.")

Some individuals might wonder what all the fuss is about. After all, is not one cat just as good as another? Writer Mim Swartz answered that question succinctly when she said, "There is no such thing as 'just a cat'."

Considering everything that the employees of Raflatac did for little Emily, it would be great if someone on this side of the pond would be kind enough to return the favor by reuniting Maximum with his owner.

Photo: Maral Sassouni.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Grieving Owner Seeks Justice for an Orange Tabby Named Bill That Was Hunted Down and Savagely Killed with a Bow and Arrow

"He said he shot it with arrows and it was stuck to the tree."
-- Deena Marie Thornton, witness for the prosecution

Forty-seven-year-old Robert Eugene Brunner of the San Diego suburb of Vista has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly killing his neighbor's three-year-old orange cat, Bill, with a bow and arrow. The metal arrows stuck the unsuspecting cat with such force that they pinned him to a tree.

The shooting occurred late on the night of April 11, 2006 when Brunner allegedly spotted Bill using his yard as an impromptu latrine. The cat was discovered the next morning with the arrows still in him by a ten-year-old boy from the neighborhood. Bill's owner, Janien Bubien, immediately took him to a veterinarian who performed emergency surgery on him but was unable to save him. Bill died two days later on April 14th of wounds to the neck and back. (See photo above.)

"This cat suffered horribly," prosecuting attorney Kate Flaherty told San Diego's Union-Tribune at the close of last week's preliminary hearing. (See "Man to Face Trial in Fatal Arrow Attack on Neighbor's Cat.")

Brunner has been charged with two counts of animal cruelty and could face up to fifty-six months in the can if convicted; a trial date will be set on August 20th. He has been held on a $75,000 bond ever since his arraignment back in June of this year when he pleaded not guilty.

At the hearing, prosecution witness Deena Marie Thornton told the court that Brunner admitted to her that he had murdered Bubien's beloved cat. "He said he shot it with arrows and it was stuck to the tree," she testified.

Pressed by Brunner's pro bono shyster, Cherie Brenner, Thornton conceded that she actually never saw either the cat or the tree, but she did see the defendant digging up a palm tree later that night.

There really is not much doubt about Brunner's guilt. In fact, he has already lost a civil suit filed by Bubien. In that case, he was ordered to pay her $2,500 for killing Bill and the presiding judge magnanimously tacked on an additional $5,000 so as to assist Bubien in relocating elsewhere.

Furthermore, Brunner fits the all-too-familiar profile of an animal abuser in that he has been previously convicted of domestic violence and was later jailed for violating the terms of his probation. Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman should throw the book at him; sociopaths such as him are not only beyond salvage but a threat to both humans and cats.

After her latest victory in court, a relieved Bubien is quoted in the August 7th edition of the Suddeutsche Zeitung as saying simply, "Ich bin so geruehrt, dass endlich jemand zuhoert." (See "Bill Killed.")

This tragic case is strikingly similar to the April 24, 2006 murder of a three-year-old black cat named Carmen in the affluent Bentivar subdivision just outside of Charlottesville. The only difference is that forty-six-year-old used car dealer George A. Seymour Jr. used a firearm to blow away Carmen after he allegedly spotted her on top of one of his old jalopies. (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.")

At a trial held on August 22nd of last year, Albemarle County Attorney Jim Camblos got Seymour to admit that he actually never had seen Carmen on top of any of his vehicles. This admission was buttressed by the testimony of Carmen's owner, Klaus Wintersteiger, who told the court, "Carmen did not jump up. She was too lazy and too fat." (See The Daily Progress of Charlottesville, August 22, 2006, "Man Sentenced to Jail for Shooting Cat.")

Nor did Camblos buy Seymour's claim that he thought that Carmen was a stray. "Mr. Seymour took it upon himself to shoot a cat that was clearly a companion animal," he told the court.

District Court Judge Steven Helvin found Seymour guilty of maliciously wounding Carmen but sentenced him inexplicably to only ten days in the stir and ordered him to perform an unspecified amount of community service.

Like Brunner, Seymour is another sociopath. Not only is he a former member of the National Rife Association (NRA) and an African safari hunter, but male members of his household have been known to use the sedate streets of Bentivar as a drag strip. He also showed himself at trial to be an inveterate liar.

The killing of Carmen, who already suffered from a heart murmur, has left Wintersteiger's two children, nine-year-old Nicholas and seven-year-old Isabella, devastated and they still have nightmares about the incident. (See photo above of Isabella with Carmen in happier days.)

Although there no doubt have been many more such fatalities, the mortal wounding of Bill with a bow and arrow is at least the third such case in recent memory to garner international attention. Back in 2005, a kitten named Archer from the Tampa suburb of Tarpon Springs luckily survived being shot with a metal and plastic arrow. (See Cat Defender post of August 25, 2005 entitled "Nine-Week-Old Kitten Named Archer Recovering After Being Shot with Crossbow Near Tampa.")

During the closing days of July of this year, an unidentified cat from Miami Township in Montgomery County, Ohio was not nearly so lucky when he was shot in the leg with a wooden arrow. (See Cat Defender post of August 2, 2007 entitled "Ohio Cat Shot in the Leg with an Arrow Is Forced to Endure a Long-Drawn Out and Excruciating Death.")

Although additional governmental scrutiny will not necessarily deter wicked individuals from committing deadly acts, serial numbers could be encrypted on arrows and then entered into a computer database. That would at least be of some assistance to law enforcement personnel in apprehending murderers who use bows and arrows as their weapon of choice.

On a more mundane level, cats peeing in yards and jumping on cars are very trivial matters and anyone who turns violent over such incidents is not merely an ailurophobe but a sociopath as well. Birds and mice leave behind considerably more excrement than do cats and they also spread deadly diseases.

Coyotes, fishers, raccoons, and other wild animals also leave behind excrement in addition to killing cats and occasionally attacking dogs, children, and adults. (See Cat Defender post of July 19, 2007 entitled "Up to Their Old Tricks, Wildlife Officials Reintroduce Fishers to the Northeast to Prey Upon Cats and to Provide Income for Fur Traffickers.") Noise pollution and auto emissions are also far greater quality of life issues than cat urine.

Nevertheless, no one shoots birds for defecating on their heads, dogs for barking at them, or motorists for giving them lung cancer. If the only thing a bloke has to worry about is a little cat urine in his yard, he is indeed a fortunate fellow.

Having said all of that, it is in the best interests of cat owners to be respectful of the wishes of their neighbors because failure to do so could lead to their cats being tragically killed. There is no evidence, however, that either Brunner or Seymour at any time ever directed Bubien or Wintersteiger to keep their cats at home.

Of course, both assailants could have used water pistols in order to have kept Bill and Carmen off of their precious turf but that would have deprived them of the sadistic thrill that they get from abusing and killing cats.

On a much broader societal level, it is becoming increasingly difficult for cat owners to live side-by-side with ailurophobes, bird advocates, and wildlife proponents. One possible solution would be to amend existing zoning laws so that cat owners could live together in one section of town and their sworn enemies in another.

That probably would not work, however, because individuals and groups who kill and abuse cats most likely would just divert their homicidal rages in the direction of dogs and other small animals. As for bird lovers and wildlife proponents, it goes without saying that without cats to defame and kill they would no longer have a raison d'etre.

Although the Wintersteigers are staying put, Bubien is doing the intelligent thing by relocating. Hopefully, whenever Brunner gets out jail his new neighbors will be either members of the Medellin drug cartel, the Bloods, or the Crips.

It would be interesting to see just how tough he really is when it comes to dealing with someone who is capable of defending himself. The use of violence in order to get one's way, like every other modus operandi, has its limitations.

Photos: KGTV-Channel 10, San Diego (Bill) and Jen Fariello of The Hook (Carmen and Isabella.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Israeli Police Turn a Blind Eye to the Poisoning of Fifty-Three Cats and Seven Dogs in Kiryat Tivon

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
-- Mohandas Gandhi

Long regarded as one of the most ailurophobic nations in the world, Israel has had its already tarnished image further sullied by the revelation that at least fifty-three cats and seven dogs recently were poisoned in the northern town of Kiryat Tivon.

"We're definitely dealing with a psychopath," resident Michaela Shingler, who has had five cats poisoned and another seven to disappear, told Haaretz on July 24th. (See "Cat Killer Turns Playground into Animal Graveyard.") "This criminal murderer had an easy time of it. He took advantage of the cats gathering, spread the bait around, inserted the phosphate, and the cats ate."

To make matters worse, police in the town of 13,700 residents, located fifteen kilometers southeast of Haifa, have so far refused to investigate the poisonings. This is in spite of the fact that the Ahava Foundation has filed four separate complaints and a local veterinarian has added a fifth one.

"The organization demands the dismissal of those parties responsible for the series of blatant lies which it is difficult to believe come from those who are supposed to investigate crime and defend the public from criminals," a spokesperson for Ahava told The Jerusalem Post on July 25th. (See "Fur Flies in Kiryat Tivon over Pet Poisonings.") "Instead, Ahava is acting in the place of the Israel police, who aren't doing anything."

Ahava therefore has been forced to raise money not only in order to retain a private detective to investigate the poisonings but also so that it can offer a reward for information leading to the apprehension of the perpetrator. All of this is in addition to rescuing and treating cats and dogs that have been poisoned. (See photo above of Ahava volunteer Shachar and a poisoned kitten that was saved by the group.)

The indiscriminate poisoning of cats en masse is not confined to ailurophobes but in the past has been the modus operandi of public health officials and politicians. Par exemple, between 1999 and 2005 hundreds -- if not indeed thousands -- of cats were poisoned by bait tossed out in the street by governmental officials in an idiotic and barbaric attempt to deal with a rabies scare.

Also during this time an undetermined number of cats were seized from private dwellings and killed. In a thoroughly disgraceful lapse of ethics, veterinarians also confiscated and killed cats that either had not been inoculated or whose immunizations were not up to date.

Even when the Israelis are not killing cats outright, their shameful and unconscionable neglect of them leads to the same result. Jerusalem, for example, has an estimated fifty-thousand homeless cats who are allowed to die of thirst, hunger, heat exhaustion, disease, predation, and underneath the wheels of callous motorists. (See photo below.)

In a July 28th article for The Jerusalem Post, Jill Hamilton of the RSPCA and Hebrew University ludicrously attempts to pack off the blame for Jerusalem's feral cats on the English imperialists. (See "Blair and the Stray Cats of Jerusalem.")

While they no doubt brought some felines with them that they later abandoned, the fact remains that cats have always lived in Jerusalem and other cities in Israel. Besides, Israel has been a sovereign state since 1948 and therefore it has had plenty of time to have found a humane solution to the problem.

The Israelis' systematic abuse and neglect of cats continues unabated in spite of several legislative and juridical initiatives in recent years designed to remedy the situation. For instance, the Knesset passed the Animal Protection Law of 1994 and a High Court of Justice ruling during the same year criminalized the poisoning, killing, and deportation of cats.

Like so much of everything else that occurs in Israel, these legal mandates have not been enforced. For instance, hotels and individuals continue to kill cats with impunity.

According to a July 28th report on Y Net News, there are four-thousand cases of animal cruelty reported each year in Israel plus an estimated ten-thousand such incidents that go unreported. Worst still, only forty indictments are returned each year. (See "Pet Parade.")

Equally disturbing is the fact that up until recently the government used strychnine as its poison of choice in order to get rid of feral cats. Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHIA) was able to get the government to agree in 2004 to replace strychnine with TNR. It is not clear how well this is working out in practice, however, because sterilization initiatives remain grossly underfunded.

Israel's total disregard for animals is by no means limited to those living inside its borders. Au contraire, its mistreatment of those in the Occupied Territories is every bit as egregious.

When the Israeli colonialists pulled out of the Sinai in the early 1980s they left behind hundreds of cats and dogs to fend for themselves. Dogs, for instance, were even left chained in yards.

Its abandonment of twenty-one colonies in Gaza and four more in the West Bank in August of 2005 brought about a repeat performance of what had occurred earlier in the Sinai. This time around thousands of cats, at least seventy dogs, and several parrots were cruelly abandoned to their own devices. Countless pigeons also plunged to their deaths when the building wherein they were nesting were demolished.

Earlier in 2004, the Israeli Army killed many animals when its tanks rolled into the Rafah Zoo in Gaza. During March and April of 2005, the Israelis used a rodenticide called fluoracetamide in order to poison Palestinian cows, sheep, and goats in southern Hebron. (See Cat Defender post of November 7, 2005 entitled "Israeli Colonialists in Gaza and the West Bank Leave Behind Thousands of Cats to Die of Thirst, Hunger, and Predation.")

Last summer's invasion of Lebanon provided another gruesome example of just how ruthless and merciless the Israeli war machine can be to both individuals and animals. In addition to bombing practically the entire country back into the Stone Age and killing thousands of noncombatants, the Israelis killed untold numbers of cats, dogs, and livestock. (See Cat Defender post of August 10, 2006 entitled "Death Toll Mounts of Cats and Other Animals Slaughtered and Left Homeless in Lebanon by Israeli War Criminals.")

Their bombing of a coastal power plant in Jiyyeh released one-hundred-thousand barrels of crude oil into the Mediterranean which in turn contaminated just about all of the Lebanese coastline and ruined beaches as far away as Syria, Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey. The number of fish, turtles, and other marine life killed by the oil slick is estimated to have been in the thousands. (See Cat Defender post of October 12, 2006 entitled "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.")

The parallel that is often drawn between cruelty to animals and cruelty to people is to a large extent applicable to governments as well. In other words, governments that fail to protect the rights of animals are far more likely to abuse both their own citizens and foreigners as well. This certainly seems to be a fair assessment of Israel.

In addition to Ahava and CHAI, several other dedicated animal rights groups are working hard to change the way in which Israel treats cats, dogs, and other animals. It is an uphill struggle, however.

Most of these groups are hamstrung not only because of a total unwillingness on the part of the government to enforce the anti-cruelty laws, but also due of a lack of funding. As long as this situation remains unchanged the killings and indifference to the suffering of animals will continue.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated," Mohandas Gandhi once said. Israel is as rich as Croesus when it comes to having guns and money but until it learns to treat animals with compassion and respect it will continue to be a moral bankrupt.

Photos: Alon Ron of Ahava (Shachar and kitten) and Tallulah Floyd of The Jerusalem Post (Jerusalem cat).

Monday, August 06, 2007

In a Marked Departure from Its Cat Killing Ways, Air Force Hires Wizzo as Head Mouser at California Warehouse

"It is better to feed one cat than many mice."
-- Norwegian Proverb

A one-year-old Maine Coon and Manx mix named Wizzo has been hired as a "weapons support officer" at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California. Translated into civilian parlance, Wizzo is now head mouser at the Ninety-Fifth Mission Support Group's (MSG) supply warehouse. (See photos above and below.)

When Air Force brass discovered that they had a problem with mice and rats destroying supplies and leaving behind potentially harmful excrement they first tried several other methods of rodent control but to no avail. "Poison doesn't work inside the warehouse," Bill Martin, procurement manager, is quoted as saying in a July 30th Air Force Press Release. (See "Supply Group Uses 'Military Working Cat' to Control Critters.") "By eating the poison, the rodents just get sick and crawl behind walls and die."

In desperation, MSG adopted Wizzo from a shelter in nearby Lancaster and although he only has been on the job for a short while he has already captured three mice, a rat, and a bird. "It seems that whenever anyone starts to doubt his worth, he comes up with another mission completed," MSG's Jennifer Starr related in reference to Wizzo's habit of depositing his catches at the feet of the first person to come through the door each morning.

Warehouse Specialist Heather Chapman also has high praise for the new employee. "Wizzo is our mobility rodent deterrent," she said. "He was brought in for pest control and is earning his keep by doing his job."

It hardly needs to be pointed out that Wizzo's services come considerably cheaper than do those of either Rentokill or Orkin. Just as importantly, he is totally incorruptible, which is a good deal more than can be said for another well-known exterminator, i.e. Tom DeLay.

"Everyone in the supply warehouse contributes by donating supplies and food for him," Starr said. "It is really a team effort."

In addition to keeping the rodent population in check, the friendly and playful cat has been busy softening up the hard hearts of his coworkers. This, too, appears to be working in that they are slowly beginning to appreciate the invaluable contributions that he makes to both morale and stress relief.

"He really helps out with the team's morale," Chapman said. "I really love him. If I could, I would take him home."

As for Wizzo, the job has its pluses and minuses like any other occupation. On the positive side of the ledger, the Air Force most likely saved his life by adopting him. He also now has a secure place to call home and plenty of food to eat.

On the negative side, he is confined to a cage whenever there are either military exercises or a lot of people in the warehouse. He is also forced to spend his evenings and nights alone since the warehouse closes promptly at 4 p.m.

While it is encouraging that personnel at Edwards have belatedly come to realize the valuable contributions that cats make toward both morale and pest control, the hiring of one cat does not in any way excuse the military for the millions of other atrocities that it has -- and continues to -- perpetrate against cats.

For instance, the Air Force's Three-Hundred-Eightieth Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron's entomology flight travels the world over exterminating cats en masse at American bases such as Al Udeid in Qatar and elsewhere. (See Cat Defender post of November 14, 2006 entitled " Military Killing Cats and Dogs by the Tens of Thousands as Imperialistic America Attempts to Conquer the World.")

In 2002, Central Command issued General Order 1-A (GO-1A) which mandated that all non-working animals in the combat zone be killed. In practical terms, this has led to servicemen and mercenaries gunning down cats and dogs with impunity in Iraq.

Also in 2002, the Chief of Naval Operations ordered that all non-working cats and dogs living on U.S. Naval bases be exterminated. This same directive also mandated the scrapping of all TNR programs.

More stunning, sailors stationed at the American naval base in Rota, Spain have been caught poisoning cats with antifreeze and suffocating tiny kittens in plastic trash bags. Letters of protest sent to both American and Spanish officials have failed to put an end to these atrocities.

In May of this year, the Army confiscated and exterminated a cat and four kittens living at the residence of Army National Guard PFC Ronne Smith in Taji, Iraq. This was in spite of ongoing efforts of Military Mascots and other animal lovers to safely relocate the felines to Smith's Papillon, Nebraska home. (See Cat Defender posts of May 24, 2007 and October 26, 2005 entitled, respectively, "USDA and Fish and Wildlife Service Commence Trapping and Killing Cats on Florida's Big Pine Key" and "Love Conquers All Obstacles as Soldier Locates His Lost Dog in Iraq and Brings It Home to Maryland.")

Dedicated to achieving totalitarian control over all creation, the United States maintains six-thousand military bases at home and an additional one-thousand scattered around the world. All of these bases attract cats, dogs, and other animals who, sadly, learn firsthand just what Yankee imperialism is all about.

The United States military is a bloated killing and pillaging machine. All the palaver about freedom, democracy, and national security is strictly for domestic consumption; nobody else in the world believes such sottise. According to Robert McNamara, the United States killed 3.4 million people during the Vietnamese conflict and it so far has been responsible, directly or indirectly, for the deaths of at least one-million Iraqis.

No statistics are kept as to the number of cats, dogs, and other animals that the military kills but the totals must far exceed human casualties. When Hugo Chavez recently labeled the United States as "the cruelest, most terrible, most cynical, most murderous empire that has existed," he was only stating the obvious.

Edwards' kind and humane treatment of Wizzo most likely does not signal an about-face in the military's historic mistreatment of cats and other animals. Au contraire, the military's attitudinal change is pretty much limited to finally recognizing the wisdom of an old Norwegian proverb which maintains that "it is better to feed one cat than many mice."

Photos: Mike Young of the Air Force.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Ohio Cat Shot in the Leg with an Arrow Is Forced to Endure a Long-Drawn-Out and Excruciating Death

"Whether hunting is right or wrong, a spiritual experience, or an outlet for the killer instinct, one thing it is not is a sport. Sport is when individuals or teams compete against each other under equal circumstances to determine who is better at a given game or endeavor. Hunting will be a sport when deer, elk, bears, and ducks are...given twelve-gauge shotguns. Bet we'd see a lot fewer drunk (sic) yahoos (live ones, anyway) in the woods if that happened."
-- R. Lerner, Letter to Sierra Magazine, March-April 1991.

A male gray and brown cat was shot in the leg with an arrow sometime last week in Miami Township in Montgomery County, Ohio. He wandered around for several days in excruciating pain before he was spotted on July 27th in a trailer park on Chris Lane.

He was picked up by officers from Montgomery County Animal Care and Control and taken to the Animal Resource Center but it apparently was too late to save him. It is unclear from the record whether he died on his own or was subsequently killed by Animal Control. (See photo above.)

So far, no one has come forward to claim his body and since he was not wearing a collar the identity of his owner remains unknown. Both Animal Control and the Miami Police Department have appealed to the public for help in apprehending the perpetrator of this heinous crime.

"This type of intentional cruelty to animals can often lead to violence against people," Mark Kumpf, Animal Control director, said in a July 28th press release. "We hope that someone will come forward with information that will lead us to an arrest and conviction in this case."

Compared with antifreeze poisonings, illegal trapping and subsequent transfers to shelters for extermination, gunshot wounds, and vehicular homicides, hunting cats with bows and arrows is fairly rare. It does occasionally occur, however.

For instance, on August 17, 2005, a nine-week-old, one-pound, black and white kitten named Archer was shot with a twelve-inch metal and plastic arrow in the Tampa suburb of Tarpon Springs. The projectile, which missed his tiny heart by centimeters, broke a rib, punctured a lung, and pierced his liver. (See photo below.)

Fortunately, he was rescued in the nick of time by Kathy Powers, owner of Tropic Sign and Tropic Shirts, who secured prompt veterinary care for him. (See Cat Defender post of August 25, 2005 entitled "Nine-Week-Old Kitten Nicknamed Archer Recovering After Being Shot with Crossbow Near Tampa.")

Archer, subsequently adopted by Powers, has now made a complete physical recovery. His horrible ordeal, however, has left him traumatized for life. (See photo below of him with another of Powers' cats, Sole.) "He doesn't like any kind of strangers. He runs and hides," Powers told the St. Petersburg Times on August 24, 2006. (See "Man Who Shot Cat with Arrow Gets Thirty Days in Jail.")

Thanks to the large number of tips that they received from concerned citizens, the authorities arrested nineteen-year-old Stephen H. Cockerill of Palm Harbor two days after the incident. He immediately posted a $5,000 bond and was released.

On July 28, 2006, he pleaded guilty to one charge of animal cruelty and was sentenced by Circuit Judge Doug Baird to a measly thirty days in jail and put on probation for eighteen months. He was also barred from owning either any animals or weapons during his probationary period and to perform one-hundred hours of community service.

Cockerill was additionally ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation and to complete any followup treatment prescribed. Best of all for him, the judge declined to enter a formal judgment of guilt against him which means that he will not have a felony record if he successfully completes his probation.

His shyster, Elizabeth Hittos of Holiday, argued in court that the shooting was "sheerly accidental" in spite of the fact that eyewitnesses testified that her client also shot at a second cat. "He's a good kid, and this was a complete aberration," she told the St. Petersburg Times.

It was therefore left up to Assistant State Attorney Aaron Slavin to point out the obvious. "My position was that you don't accidentally shoot a kitten," he told the Times.

Despite having said that, Slavin inexplicably defended the light sentence handed down by the court. "The sentence, I think, is a fair balance of being strict and taking everything into account."

Based upon the conduct of both Slavin and Baird, it is quite obvious that prosecutors and judges are totally unwilling to take animal cruelty cases seriously. Just as disturbing is the fact that public condemnations of individuals who commit these despicable crimes is not deterring others from following in their footsteps.

The only remedy lies with state legislators who must be prevailed upon to put some teeth into anti-cruelty laws. This is not about to happen, however, until animal rights activists pressure them into acting. It is therefore imperative that votes and campaign contributions he withheld from all candidates unwilling to get tough with animal killers and abusers.

In a letter to Sierra Magazine back in 1991, R. Lerner summed up the situation rather well when he noted: "Whether hunting is right or wrong, a spiritual experience, or an outlet for the killer instinct, one thing it is not is a sport. Sport is when individuals or teams compete against each other under equal circumstances to determine who is better at a given game or endeavor. Hunting will be a sport when deer, elk, and ducks are...given twelve-gauge shotguns."

He concluded by predicting, "Bet we'd see a lot fewer drunk (sic) yahoos (live ones, anyway) in the woods if that happened." Cleveland Amory put the matter even more starkly when he counseled, "Support your right to arm bears."

Since what Lerner and Amory have proposed is not about to happen, one alternative would be to have hunters divide up into teams before going into the bush and then to shoot at each other. That way they could still have their fun without murdering defenseless animals.

Better yet, they should be conscripted and shipped off to either Iraq or Afghanistan. The anti-imperialist forces operating in both countries will be glad to give them all the action that they can handle. Of course, it goes without saying that individuals who gun down cats and dogs are far too cowardly to ever stand up to an armed opponent who is willing to fight back.

Photos: Montgomery County Animal Care and Control (cat shot with arrow), Tampabay.com (Arrow after surgery), and Douglas R. Clifford of St. Petersburg Times (Archer and Sole.)