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.