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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Abandoned to Die in a World of Darkness and Without Even Teeth, Maxwell Is Saved by the Compassion of a Rescue Group and a Veterinarian


"At first, I figured he'd survive if he was cared for, but I didn't know what his quality of life would be like. Then I spent some time with him and realized how well he gets around. He doesn't know he's handicapped. He just does what he needs to do and he does it really well."
-- Shannon Sierra

The Fates are seldom kind to cats. For even those that are born healthy and whole, their sojourns on this earth are more often than not plagued by all sorts of deprivations and unspeakable abuses.

Imagine, however, being born without eyes and teeth as well as being homeless and uncared for and one will then have some idea of what life was like for a handsome orange tabby named Maxwell.

Already an adult cat, he was discovered two years ago stumbling around a White City, Oregon, ranch by the owner who later turned him over to Committed Alliance to Strays (CATS) in nearby Medford. Strongly suspecting that he had previously belonged to someone, the rescue group first tried unsuccessfully to locate his previous owner.

Eventually, he was brought to Best Friends Animal Clinic where veterinarian Shannon Sierra concluded after examining him that his disabilities were most likely the result of a prenatal virus that he had contracted from his mother. While caring for Max, Sierra came down with an even more potent affliction himself, i.e. love, and shortly thereafter he adopted the cat.

"At first, I figured he'd survive if he was cared for, but I didn't know what his quality of life would be like," Sierra confided to Medford's Mail Tribune on September 16th. (See "On His Own, Blind Cat Survives, Thrives.") "Then I spent some time with him and realized how well he gets around. He doesn't know he's handicapped. He just does what he needs to do and he does it really well."

Now, Maxwell spends his days at Sierra's clinic socializing with the patients and their owners as well as taking in the smells and sounds around him. After work, he is driven home by Sierra where he joins the vet's six other resident felines, a puppy, and an unspecified number of foster kittens from CATS.

He is able to eat regular kibble even sans his teeth and the only major alteration that Sierra has made to his house is to insulate the legs of his furniture with foam padding so as to prevent Max from injuring himself.

He passes his time at home helping to care for the kittens and frolicking in Sierra's enclosed yard. Since he was most likely born in a barn, he also has an affinity for bales of hay.

"It's the weirdest thing. Whenever he gets around hay, you'd think it was catnip," Sierra told the Mail Tribune. "A lot of cats like it but he has this huge attraction to it. He rubs all over it. He'd climb inside if he could."

Max probably would have died a long time ago if it had not been for the compassion shown him by Jan Whetstone and the staff of CATS. Whereas killing sickly (and perfectly healthy!) cats is the de rigueur at most shelters, it is not even an option as far as CATS is concerned.

On its web site the organization states: "Our mission is to rescue the forgotten cats and kittens. Those abandoned and left trying to make it on their own in a world much too cruel. They battle hunger, disease, weather, predators, of which the scariest can be the human predator. CATS can provide a chance at a better life." Toward this end, the group procures medical help for all cats that need it and then attempts to find good homes for them.

"There's a saying we really like that says, 'Who can believe that there is no soul behind those luminous eyes?' " Whetstone said. "With little Maxwell you don't have to see his eyes. You can feel his soul."

The killing of cats and dogs for any reason should be a crime. Healthy, injured, or handicapped, they have just as much of a right to life, freedom, and medical assistance as people.

As Maxwell has demonstrated, even handicapped animals have an amazing capacity to adapt to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and to go on and live long and fulfilling lives. Moreover, every day that these animals live they enrich the lives of everyone around them and repay them a thousandfold for their compassion.

For instance, there is a three-legged cat named Opie who has had a profound affect upon the inmates who work in the laundry room of a Tennessee prison. (See Cat Defender post of November 2, 2006 entitled "Three-Legged, Bobtailed Cat Named Opie Melts the Hearts of Hardened Criminals at Rural Tennessee Prison.")


Before they became too cheap and selfish to care for him in his old age, another three-legged cat named Tripod used to help the reporters and editors of The Caledonian-Record put the paper to bed every night in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. (See Cat Defender post of February 9, 2006 entitled "Newspaper Cat Named Tripod Is Killed Off by Journalists He Befriended in Vermont.")

Two years ago, a cat named Hopalong Cassidy tragically lost a limb to a leghold trap but that did not prevent him from finding a new home. (See Cat Defender post of August 18, 2005 entitled "Brave Orange Tabby Cat Dubbed Hopalong Cassidy Loses Limb to Leghold Trap in British Columbia.")

Last summer, a deaf Angora cat named Stone miraculously escaped being killed by the tons of bombs that Israel dumped on defenseless Lebanon and was later able to find a new home in the United States. (See Cat Defender post of January 11, 2007 entitled "Deaf Angora Cat Named Stone Survives the War in Lebanon to Find a New Home in Illinois.")

In a case remarkably similar to Maxwell's, a four-week-old kitten that also was born without eyes ended up at the Humane Society in Tacoma back in February. Christened Angel, she was given medical treatment and has since been adopted by one of the shelter's volunteers.

According to a September 27th e-mail from director Kathleen Olson, Angel is now doing very well. (See Cat Defender post of February 23, 2007 entitled "Born Without Eyes and Later Abandoned, Humble Kitten Appropriately Named Angel Has Hope for a Brighter Tomorrow.")

All that is needed in order to stop the killing and abuse of cats and dogs is the commitment to do so; procuring the funding, homes, and sanctuaries for homeless animals is the easy part of the equation.

Photos: Jim Craven of the Mail Tribune (Maxwell) and KOMO-TV of Seattle (Angel).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Acid Attack Leaves Solskjaer with Severe Injuries and Horrific Pain as His Heartbroken and Cash-Strapped Family Struggles to Cope

"I've never seen anything like it before. The cat was in a very bad way and it just looked like the skin had melted away."
- Veterinarian Nina Petrie

In his book Cat Stories, long-time veterinarian and celebrated author James Herriot observed, "...the unfortunate feline species seemed to be fair game for every kind of cruelty and neglect. They shot cats, threw things at them, starved them and set their dogs on them for fun." To this laundry list of heinous crimes, dousing cats with acid can now be added.

That was the terrible fate to befall a four-year-old black cat named Solskjaer from the Manchester suburb of Burnage on September 17th. The acid, which ate away a patch of fur twenty centimeters in length and six centimeters wide, left the cat's lower back musculature exposed.

"I've never seen anything like it before," Nina Petrie, a veterinarian from nearby Levenshulme who treated Solskjaer, told the South Manchester Reporter on September 20th. (See "Horrific Acid Attack on Cat Is Unbelievable.") "The cat was in a very bad way and it just looked like the skin had melted away."

Petrie sewed up Solskjaer's back using plastic tubes in order to prevent the stitches from stressing the skin any further. Although still in excruciating pain, the cat is on painkillers and is expected to recover.

The gruesome attack has left Solskjaer's guardians, Jane Worthington and Sean Mahon, devastated and dumbfounded. "Solskjaer's such a lovely cat and so friendly, I can't understand why someone would want to do this to him," Worthington told the South Manchester Reporter. "What kind of a person would attack a cat like that? It's an unbelievable act of cruelty." (See photo above of her and Solskjaer.)

"Sean's so upset because he lives for those cats," Worthington added while alluding to the family's other resident felines, Snowy, Anfield, and Torres. "He loves feeding and playing with Solskjaer and the others." This senseless act of cruelty also has traumatized the couple's two sons, nineteen-year-old Scott and thirteen-year-old Glen.

The attack, which occurred sometime before noon while the couple was grocery shopping in nearby Withington, has been reported to the authorities but no arrests have been made so far.

The already difficult situation is exacerbated by the fact that Solskjaer's guardians are in financial straits. Specifically, Mahon suffers from Hodgkin's Lymphoma and the family is forced to scrimp by on his disability benefits. Despite all of that, they did not hesitate in procuring medical help for their injured cat even though settling Petrie's $534 bill is not going to be easy for them.

This case highlights the need for the National Health Service to extend medical coverage to cats, dogs, and other companion animals. Veterinary costs are out the roof and beyond the means of all except the rich and the bourgeoisie.

The working class and the poor certainly do not love their cats and dogs any less than the privileged classes and to deny medical coverage to their pets constitutes a great injustice to both the animals and their guardians. Pet insurance is not the solution since it is merely another scam which benefits only the insurers.

The English may eventually decide to do the right thing by their cats and dogs but such a proposal would be laughed at in America. Residents of that godforsaken hellhole are so misanthropic that they gleefully deny medical coverage to fifty-million of their fellow citizens!

Despite the existence of dedicated cat lovers like Worthington and Mahon, ailurophobia is at epidemic proportions in England. Not a single day goes by without the English press being replete with stories of vicious attacks upon cats.

A large percentage of these crimes are perpetrated by yobs using either air guns or firecrackers. (See Cat Defender posts of May 7, 2007 and November 30, 2006 entitled, respectively, "British Punks Are Having a Field Day Maiming Cats with Air Guns but the Peelers Continue to Look the Other Way" and "Yobs Celebrating Guy Fawkes Day Kill Twelve-Year-Old Cat Named Tigger with Fireworks; Cat Named Sid Is Severely Burned.")

It is clearly time that the English authorities not only outlawed the sale and possession of these killing and maiming devices, but also established a task force to crack down on juveniles and others who are randomly attacking cats. A liberal application of Anti-Social Behavior Orders (ASBOs) against individuals who commit these types of crimes might be one way to curb the spiraling cycle of violence against cats.

Photo: South Manchester Reporter.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A California Man Who Slew His Neighbor's Cat, Bill, with a Bow and Arrow Is Sentenced to Three Years in Jail

"The world is a bad dog. It will bite you if you give it a chance..."
-- Joe Conrad, Victory

Finally, a cat killer has gotten his comeuppance.

Forty-seven-year-old Robert Eugene Brunner of the San Diego suburb of Vista was sentenced on September 17th to three years in jail for hunting down his neighbor's cat and pumping two arrows into his body. The force of the blows pinned the cat, Bill, to a tree where he was forced to remain overnight in excruciating pain as the life drained out of his savaged body. (See photo above.)

Alerted to Bill's fate by a ten-year-old boy from the neighborhood, owner Janeen Bubien retrieved his body and took him to a veterinarian who removed the arrows. Medical intervention was, unfortunately, too late and Bill died two days later on April 14, 2006. (See Cat Defender post of August 14, 2007 entitled "Grieving Owner Seeks Justice for Orange Tabby Named Bill That Was Hunted Down and Savagely Killed with a Bow and Arrow.")

This marks the second time that Bubien has prevailed in court. Earlier, she won a $2,500 civil judgment against Brunner and the presiding judge tacked on an additional $5,000 in order to enable her to relocate elsewhere. She is to be highly commended for going the extra miles in order to ensure that Brunner was brought to justice.

Cat-lovers are also indebted to prosecuting attorney Kate Flaherty for removing this monster from society and putting him behind bars instead of allowing him to plead to a lesser charge. Judge K. Michael Kirkman grievously erred, however, in giving him only thirty-six months in the can as opposed to the fifty-six that he was eligible for under the law.

Nevertheless, three-years in the pokey represents a marked improvement over what cat killers usually get which is pretty much limited to minuscule fines and probation. (See Cat Defender posts of January 17, 2006, March 9, 2007, and May 3, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Loony Virginia Judge Lets Career Criminal Go Free After He Stomps to Death a Fourteen-Year-Old Arthritic Cat," "Long Island Serial Cat Killer Guilty of Only Disorderly Conduct, Corrupt Court Rules," and "Principal Who Shotgunned to Death Two Kittens a Minnesota School Is Rewarded with Similar Post in Idaho.")

Even phony-baloney PETA is allowed to get away with its atrocities against animals. (See Cat Defender post of February 9, 2007 entitled "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs.")

Brunner claims that he murdered Bill because the cat was urinating in his yard, but that is a lie to conceal his inveterate hatred of cats. For instance, birds, mice, squirrels, and even drunken revelers regularly use private lawns as public toilets and yet homeowners never go after any of them with bows, arrows, and guns.

Down through history cats have been the most maligned and abused animals on the planet and the situation is only getting worse. Joe Conrad once likened the world to a bad dog that "will bite you if you give it the chance" and that pretty well sums up the predicament that cats and their guardians find themselves in these days.

Since it is clear that existing laws are not only too weak but too sporadically enforced to stop the abuse and killings, the time has come for all societies to recognize violent acts directed against cats as hate crimes and to punish the perpetrators accordingly.

Photo: KGTV, Channel 10, San Diego.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The FDA Is Suppressing Research That Shows Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer in Mice, Rats, and Dogs

"There's no way in the world, having read this information, that I would have one of those chips implanted in my skin, or in one of my family members."
-- Dr. Robert Benezra of Memorial Sloan-Kettering

Over the past fifteen years, cat and dog owners have had millions of microchips implanted in their companions as a means of identifying and retrieving them should they become either lost or stolen. Hardly a day passes without one or more incredible stories appearing in the news about a long-lost pet being reunited with its owner thanks to these chips. (See Cat Defender posts of June 12, 2006, and February 16, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Given Up for Dead, Sneakers Is Reunited with His Owner After Having Gone AWOL Ten Years Ago" and "Marmalade Receives a Tepid Homecoming After Having Been Missing for Eleven Years.")

The technological assault upon wildlife has been even more egregious as the scientific community and wildlife officials have combined forces in an all-out effort to radio tag and monitor every single species on the planet. In some instances the monitoring involves implanting chips while at other times radio-equipped collars or similar devices are externally attached.

In all cases, however, the animals must first be either trapped or hounded down like criminals on the lam before they can be tranquilized and tagged. Some animals are often subjected to multiple trappings and taggings over the course of their very brief life spans.

In their rush to transform the great outdoors into a planet-wide laboratory where they are the masters and all animals are mere guinea pigs, scientists and wildlife officials kill, both intentionally and unintentionally, untold numbers of animals each year while tagging and monitoring them. (See Cat Defender posts of May 4, 2006 and April 17, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Scientific Community's Use of High-Tech Surveillance Is Aimed at Subjugating, Not Saving, the Animals" and "Hal the Central Park Coyote Is Suffocated to Death by Wildlife Biologists Attempting to Tag Him.")

Even America's long-suffering and hideously abused farm animals have not been able to escape the indignity of being tagged and treated like cheap inanimate merchandise. By 2009, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to have in place a National Animal Identification System that will monitor the movement of all livestock from birth to abattoir.

As go the animals, so goes man and now this new technology is being applied to humans. So far, at least two-thousand individuals worldwide have received microchip implants and hundreds of millions more are expected to receive the devices in the years to come. Moreover, if those in power are allowed to have their way, eventually most everyone will be forcibly microchipped, monitored, and eliminated should they get out of line. To their credit, Wisconsin and North Dakota have laws in place that ban the forcible implantation of microchips and similar legislation is under consideration in Ohio, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Florida.

The implants consist of a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) integrated circuit and an antenna encapsulated in glass. Those used in humans are about the size of two grains of rice whereas those implanted in cats and dogs are only about half that size. A syringe is used to implant them between the shoulder blades of pets and in the upper arms of people. To the extent that they are used to monitor wildlife, the point of implantation varies from species to species. (See photo above of a chip made for implantation in humans and the photo below of a chip used for cats and dogs.)

The chips implanted in pets contain a ten-digit identification number whereas those used in humans contain a sixteen-digit number. In either case, the chips can only be read by special scanners. The codes are then entered into databases where the pertinent information regarding both pets and individuals is stored.

As is the case with just about all technological and medical breakthroughs, implanted microchips are another prime example of Silicon Valley snake oil that is being marketed to a gullible public as a great boon with very few dissenting voices. That is about to change.

Thanks to the diligent efforts of Katherine Albrecht of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN) and the investigative reporting of Todd Lewan of the Associated Press (AP), it has now come to light that implanted microchips cause cancer not only in lab mice and rats but also in dogs.

Malignant sarcomas develop around the implants and invade connective tissue. These growths vary from minor tumors that can be cured fairly easily to aggressive malignancies that can kill both animals and people in a matter of months.

Worst still, data relating to the trials conducted on mice, rats, and dogs have been available in veterinary and toxicological journals for as far back as 1996. Despite all of that, implants for humans were approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) on January 10, 2005 and have since received the seal of approval from the American Medical Association (AMA). Moreover, the FDA labeled the devices as one of the top "innovative technologies" of 2005.

While the FDA steadfastly refuses to disclose whether or not it was aware of the cancer studies before it approved the chip implants, Dr. Steven Stack of the AMA told the AP on September 9th that his organization definitely was not informed about them. (See "Chip Implants Linked to Animal Tumors.")

The initial alert was sounded in 1996 by Dr. Keith Johnson of Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan. "The transponders were the cause of the tumors," he concluded from his research.

A 1997 study conducted in Deutschland found cancers in one per cent of 4,279 microchipped mice and 1998 research carried out on chipped mice in Ridgefield, Connecticut found a cancer rate above ten per cent. Later in 2006, French researchers detected cancers in slightly more than four per cent of 1,260 microchipped mice.

The research concerning microchipped canines is far more sketchy; in fact, the AP was able to uncover only two such studies. In one study, the implanted chip was blamed for the malignant growth while in the other one the exact cause of the cancer could not be pinpointed.

The AP unearthed three additional studies where implanted microchips caused cancers in mice but it did not disclose the particulars of them in the article cited supra. So far, no studies regarding cats have surfaced but there is a strong possibility that if the devices cause cancer in dogs they very well might do likewise in cats, other animals, and possibly even in humans.

Researchers caution, however, that not too much should be read into these studies due to the fact that there were not any control groups and because animal test results are not necessarily applicable to humans. Despite this, Dr. Robert Benezra of Memorial Sloan-Kettering in Manhattan, Dr. Oded Foreman of Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, Dr. Cheryl London of Ohio State University, and Dr. Chand Khanna of the National Cancer Institute are calling for additional long-term research on mice, dogs, and great apes.

That, quite naturally, rekindles the age-old debate over vivisection. In reality, few within the scientific community care one way or the other whether animal test results are applicable to humans. Since there is so much money and prestige in animal research, they are all in favor of it. Plus, they enjoy torturing and killing defenseless animals. It, like tagging, feeds their sadomasochistic urges, pumps their egos, and makes them feel like gods amongst men.

Dr. Vernon Coleman, a fellow at the Royal Society of Medicine, is not the least bit hesitant to spill the beans on his colleagues. "... many vivisectors still claim that what they do helps save human lives. They are lying. The truth is that animal experiments kill people, and animal researchers are responsible for the deaths of thousands of men, women, and children each year."

Charles R. Magel, emeritus professor of philosophy and ethics at Morehead State University put his finger on the crux of the matter when he astutely said: "Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are like us.' Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are not like us.' Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction."

Like the FDA and AMA, VeriChip Corporation of Delray Beach, Florida, the leading manufacturer of implantable microchips for humans, claims to be unaware of its product causing cancer in animals. "In fact, for more than fifteen years we have used our encapsulated glass transponders with FDA approved anti-migration caps and received no complaints regarding malignant tumors caused by our product," CEO Scott Silverman declared to the AP. (See mug shot above on the right.)

In a September 11th online response to the AP's article, VeriChip is equivocal about the safety of its implants. "Over the last fifteen years, millions of dogs and cats have safely received an implantable microchip with limited or no reports of adverse health reactions from this life-saving product, which was recently endorsed by the USDA." (See "VeriChip Corporation Comments on Associated Press Article" at www.verichipcorp.com.)

VeriChip proceeds from that inauspicious beginning to make the ludicrous statement that "veterinarians would not continue to prescribe pet microchips if they believed they presented significant risk of malignant tumors in dogs and cats." As it will be demonstrated infra, most veterinarians, like their colleagues who treat humans, will do most anything for a buck regardless of the consequences for their patients.

The company does cite two scientific studies that it claims support its position that chip implants do not cause cancers in lab mice and rats. The first one is entitled "Chronic Evaluation in Rodents to a Microchip Implant Used for Animal Identification" which was conducted by D.J. Ball, R.L. Robinson, R.E. Stoll, and G.E. Visscher of the Sandoz Research Institute of East Hanover, New Jersey. The second one is entitled "Tissue Reaction to an Implantable Identification Device in Mice" and was conducted by Ghanta N. Rao and Jennifer Edmondson of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at the Research Triangle Park near Durham, North Carolina.

The FDA did freely acknowledge in an October 12, 2004 letter that chip implants do shift positions in the body and are thus sometimes difficult to locate and almost impossible to remove should that become necessary. They also interfere with defibrillators and are incompatible with MRIs. The FDA also admitted that they can cause "adverse tissue reactions" which sounds far too close to cancer for comfort.

Moreover, it is well known that all invasive procedures carry the risk of infection and related complications. The same is doubly true of foreign objects, such as heart pacemakers and artery stints, that are implanted in the body.

It is only logical that the FDA, AMA, and chip manufacturers would want to keep mum about the risks associated with implanted microchips since there are billions of dollars at stake. In addition to the millions of cats and dogs already fitted with these devices, VeriChip is anticipating peddling its so-called Veri-Med Patient Identification System to forty-five-million Americans.

Besides the moola that it will rake in from the sale of the chips themselves, VeriChip charges recipients an annual fee for maintaining their medical records in its database. In furtherance of its grand design, it is spending millions of dollars equipping a network of hospitals with scanners in order to read its chips.

The business community and governmental agencies are also expected to get on the bandwagon by requiring their employees to accept these devices. City Watcher in Cincinnati has already outfitted its employees with microchips and the Attorney General's Office in Mexico chipped eighteen of its workers in 2004.

There are also innumerable individuals, such as Baja Beach Club members in Barcelona and Rotterdam, who will voluntarily accept the implants for the convenience that they offer in, inter alia, making purchases and gaining entrance to their apartments and houses. Retail merchandise, mass transit smart cards, airline baggage tags, ski resort passes, passports, and national identification cards already contain the devices.

"There's no way in the world, having read this information, that I would have one of these chips implanted in my skin, or in one of my family members," Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Benezra declared to the AP. In this instance that which holds true for humans is equally applicable to cats and dogs and pet owners should hold off on microchipping their companions until this issue is resolved.

As most people are aware, the FDA is thoroughly corrupt. Not only does it approve drugs, such as Vioxx, which kill tens of thousands of people but former commissioner Lester Crawford recently pleaded guilty to conflict of interest charges and lying about stocks he owned in food, beverage, and medical equipment manufacturing companies that his agency was in charge of regulating. On February 27th of this year, he was sentenced to three-years of supervised probation and fined a measly $90,000.

Corruption also appears to have played a part in the FDA's approval of microchip implants for humans in that the agency is part of the Department of Health and Human Services which was at that time headed by former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson. (See photo above on the left.)

Not only were the implants approved during his tenure, but within five months of leaving office he became a board member of VeriChip and its parent company Applied Digital Solutions (ADS). To date, he has received options on 166,667 shares of VeriChip stock plus options on an additional 100,000 shares of ADS stock. Also, he was paid $40,000 in cash in 2005 and again in 2006 by VeriChip.

That is not all. He is also a partner in the Washington law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld which raked in $1.2 million in legal fees from VeriChip in 2005 and 2006. Additionally, VeriChip kicked in $7,400 to his recently aborted quest for the White House.

Thompson, of course, strenuously denies that there is any connection between the largess that he has received from VeriChip and the FDA's approval of chip implants. To have him tell it, capitalists are just generous old souls who go around giving out millions of dollars to perfect strangers out of the goodness of their hearts.

Thompson is far from being the only federal official to sell out to chip manufacturers. For instance, former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge left his post as head of Homeland Security after little more than a year on the job in order to join the board of Savi Technology of Mountain View, California. Savi supplies the Pentagon with its wireless cargo-tracking technology. Several prominent officials of the Transportation Security Administration, a division of Homeland Security, also have cashed in on their governmental service in a similar manner.

The thing that is so disgusting about Thompson is that he rose to political prominence as governor of Wisconsin by kicking the poor off of welfare. He, along with Michigan Governor John Engler, were the prime movers behind Bill Clinton's shameful welfare reform plan of 1996.

Thompson and like-minded public officials are symptomatic of all that is wrong with this society. They have basically turned government at all levels into a welfare cow for the rich and powerful while simultaneously putting the screws to the poor, the animals, and Mother Earth. In the end, however, everybody loses from a system that is this corrupt.

Privacy advocate Albrecht is acutely aware of the predicament faced by both individuals and pet owners because of the FDA's failure to fulfill its responsibilities to the public. (See photo on the right.) "The public relies on the FDA to evaluate all the data and make sure that the devices it approves are safe but if they're not doing that, who's covering our backs?" she told AP.

That implanted microchips cause cancers in animals is not surprising in light of the fact that routine vaccinations also can cause them. In fact, the Chicago law firm of Childress Duffy and Goldblatt announced in 2005 its intention to sue veterinarians for administering unnecessary vaccinations.

The law firm estimates that thirty-thousand cats and dogs die every year in the United States as the result of vaccine associated sarcomas (VAS). (See photo below of a black cat receiving an inoculation.)

In particular, it is arguing that repeated administration of vaccines for feline and canine distemper, the parvovirus, rhinotracheitis, and calcivirus provide no beneficial effects. Also vaccinations for the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Infectious Peritonitus (Guardia) are ineffective.

Since Lyme Disease is either rare or nonexistent in many parts of the country, the attorneys are arguing that vaccinating for Leptospirosis is also unnecessary. Moreover, since dogs over eight-weeks-old are not susceptible to the Corona Virus, veterinarians do not have any business inoculating them for it.

The attorneys are actually understating their case. Climate, circumstances, and general health concerns should play a major role in determining what vaccinations are given to cats and dogs. For instance, there is no reason why indoor cats should be subjected to the litany of vaccinations that outdoor cats are given. Guardians of indoor cats have other health concerns to worry about. (See Cat Defender post of August 22, 2007 entitled "Indoor Cats Are Dying from Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Various Toxins in the Home.")

In addition to the fact that most veterinarians serve the interests of their wallets as opposed to the needs of animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is a particularly despicable organization. For instance, it is on record as stating that all feral cats should be either slaughtered en masse or imprisoned in large enclosures. To its credit, the organization's Kansas City chapter vociferously disagrees. (See Cat Defender post of May 16, 2006 entitled "Kansas City Vets Break Ranks With AVMA to Defend Cats Against Bird Advocates, Wildlife Proponents, and Exterminators.")

The AVMA is also a staunch defender of the horrors of factory farming, vivisection, the collection of urine from pregnant mares, and the force-feeding of ducks and geese in order to produce fois gras. Clearly, it has little or no concern with either promoting animal rights or protecting animals from abuse, cruelty, and slaughter.

Only recently it named W. Ron DeHaven as it new executive vice president. Like Thompson, he has just completed a three-year stint on the federal dole.

As head of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), he oversaw the slaughter of millions of wild animals at the behest of commercial interests. (See Cat Defender post of September 15, 2005 entitled "United States Government Exterminates Millions of Wild Animals at the Behest of Capitalists.")

During his tenure, APHIS also came under attack for promoting cruelty to downer cattle, sanctioning the inhumane transport of livestock, and for refusing to extend humane slaughter practices to birds and rabbits. (See Counterpunch, August 30, 2007, Martha Rosenberg, "Bush's Vet Leaves Post to Spend More Time With Industry. They Call Him Dr. Cruel.")

It was also APHIS that sent undercover agents to Key West in order to spy on Hemingway's cats and this has resulted in a long-drawn out administrative and legal fight. (See Cat Defender posts of August 3, 2006, January 9, 2007, and July 23, 2007 entitled, respectively, "USDA Fines Hemingway Memorial in Key West $200 a Day for Exhibiting Papa's Polydactyl Cats Without a License," "Papa Hemingway's Polydactyl Cats Face New Threats from Both the USDA and Their Caretakers," and "Cat Behaviorist Is Summoned to Key West in Order to Help Determine the Fate of Hemingway's Polydactyls.")

From the way things look, APHIS and the USDA are doing just as lousy a job of protecting the nation's food supply, both meat and non-meat, as the FDA and AVMA are doing in protecting the health of humans and animals.

In addition to causing cancer, the efficacy of microchips is also questionable. Silverman's boast to the AP that microchips reunite eight-thousand pets with their owners each month is contradicted by the facts. In the United States, microchips for pets are sold by the American Veterinary Identification Devices (AVID) company and a firm called Home Again.

To date, AVID has sold millions of its chips resulting in the return of 142,000 pets while Home Again has sold half a million chips leading to the return of 34,000 pets. (See Pet Place, Dawn Ruben, "Microchipping for Your Cat's Safety.")

It is an often overlooked petit fait, but microchips only come into play if a lost cat or dog is turned over to either a shelter or a veterinarian equipped with a scanner; private citizens who take in stray animals do not have access to these devices. Shelter personnel and vets must also do a thorough job of scanning animals because the chips have a tendency to shift positions underneath the skin.

Another more serious problem arises due to the fact that not all scanners are capable of reading all microchips. AVID's and Home Again's chips are read at a frequency of 125 kilohertz but this is not the case with all chips, especially those sold abroad. In the United States, Banfield used to supply chips that were read at 134.2 kilohertz but it was forced to stop selling them because they could not be read by AVID's and Home Again's scanners. Recently, Home Again has introduced a new scanner that detects 134.2 kilohertz chips as well as its more common 125 kilohertz variety.

Databases present another dilemma. All microchips that are sold are registered to either the veterinarian or shelter that implants them. It is therefore their responsibility to record the pet's microchip identification number in their records and to transmit this information to the chip manufacturer for entry into its database.

Pet owners can, however, take the initiative and register their cats and dogs directly with the microchip supplier. As with the VeriMed Patient Identification System, there is an additional charge for this service.

Regardless of how the chip is registered, it will be totally useless unless the information contained in the database is accurate and up-to-date. This is essential especially for cats and dogs who are bandied about from one owner to another.

This was the predicament that a seven-year-old Bengal named Tomahawk found himself in when he turned up at a Fairfield shelter in Queensland back in March. (See photo above.)

Through extensive research, the shelter discovered that the cat had had three previous owners. Furthermore, although Tomahawk was registered in Beaufort, South Carolina, the chip had been implanted by a veterinarian in Idaho.

The story had a happy ending nonetheless as Tomahawk was eventually reunited with his owner, Nigel Smythe, of Brisbane. It is doubtful, however, that the shelter would have devoted this much time and effort to his case had not Tomahawk been valued at $3,000. (See The Australian of Sydney, March 20, 2007, "$3,000 U.S. Cat Handed to RSPCA" and The Australian, March 21, 2007, "Valuable Stray Cat Reunited with U.S. (sic) Owner.")

It is rare, but databases can be compromised by both natural disasters and hackers spreading viruses. Once either of these events occur, both humans with implanted chips and pet owners are out of luck.

By far and away, the biggest drawback presented by chips is that they offer a false sense of security while providing absolutely no protection against individuals intent upon doing harm to cats and dogs. In particular, they are totally useless against the machinations of thieves, motorists, poisoners, ailurophobes of all genres, and dog haters. (See Cat Defender post of May 25, 2006 entitled "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats.")

In the final analysis, there is not any need for individuals to endanger either themselves or their pets by opting for chips when viable alternatives are readily available. MedicAlert bracelets have served both individuals and emergency medical personnel well for more than fifty years without causing either cancers or unduly compromising the privacy of patients.

As for cats and dogs, collars are a good alternative although they can come off by themselves or be removed by thieves. They do serve their purpose a good portion of the time, however. (See Cat Defender post of October 30, 2006 entitled "Collar Saves a Cat Named Turbo from Extermination After He Is Illegally Trapped by Bird-Loving Psychopaths.")

The French, both in Europe and Quebec, prefer to tattoo their cats and dogs either inside their ears or on one of their rear legs. Skin and fur grow back, however, and after a while tattoos become unrecognizable unless they are periodically redone. Also, anyone who finds a stray animal must know to look for the tattoo and have some means of bringing this information to the attention of the public so that the animal's owner can be alerted.

Although tattooing is less invasive than microchipping, it is of dubious efficacy. For instance, a tattoo so far has not helped to reunite a Parisian visitor to California with her cat. (See Cat Defender post of August 16, 2007 entitled "Cri de Coeur: Heartbroken Cat Owner Offers Free Trip to Paris as a Reward for the Return of Her Beloved Maximum.")

The long and short of the situation is that no identification system is foolproof when it comes to keeping cats and dogs safe. They are very much like small children and just as no loving parent would ever allow a toddler out of sight the same holds true for cats and dogs. Since this is quite obviously not always possible, pet owners should allow their companions to roam only in areas that they know to be safe.

For animals who do become lost there are a growing number of pet detectives who can be retained for a fee. The USDA also maintains a notice board that lists descriptions of missing and found pets on a state-by-state basis at www.missingpet.net.

Photos: Steve Mitchell of AP (microchip implant for humans), Shaker Veterinary Hospital of Latham, NY (chip for pets), VeriChip (Silverman), Wikipedia (Thompson), KatherineAlbrech.com (Albrecht), DR of the Tribune de Geneve (cat being vaccinated), and Annette Dew of The Australian (Tomahawk).

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

After a Dreary Ten-Year Absence, Number 10 Downing Street Has a New Resident Feline and Her Name Is Sybil

"Petit a petit, les chats deviennent l'ame de la maison."
-- Jean Cocteau

For the first time in more than a decade Number 10 Downing Street has a resident feline. Her name is Sybil and she belongs to Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling and his wife, Margaret. (See photos above and below.)

The black and white moggy arrived in London on September 10th when the Darlings relocated from Edinburgh in order that Alistair could join Gordon Brown's new government. She will live with them in the flat above Number 10 since the prime minister and his wife, Sarah, have opted instead for the roomier accommodations above Number 11.

Sybil also will be allowed full access to the building and grounds. "It's quite difficult to confine cats," a spokesman for the prime minister wisely explained to the Daily Mail on September 11th. (See "Ten Years After the Humphrey Hoo-Ha, a Cat Returns to Downing Street.")

The new addition to his government has received the endorsement of the prime minister and his wife. "The prime minister and Sarah do not have a problem with it," his spokesman told the BBC on September 12th. (See "No. 10 Gets New Feline First Lady.")

Since the Darlings will be paying for Sybil's care out of their own pockets, she will be expected to earn her keep. "Sybil has been brought down because there are mice here," Darling told the Daily Mail on September 15th. (See "Mice One, Sybil, the Job's Yours.") "She's a really good mouser."

Darling went on to point out that since the departure of Humphrey, the last feline to inhabit Number 10, the mice have gotten out of control. He does not expect that situation to last much longer, however. "Sybil will soon sort it out," he added confidently.

Other than her prowess in rodent control, not much is known about Sybil except for the fact that the Darlings have continued a long tradition by naming her after a television character. In her case, she was named after Basil Fawlty's wife, Sybil, from the 1970s sitcom, Fawlty Towers.

Given time, however, she will no doubt leave her indelible mark on Number 10 just as her illustrious predecessors have done. "Petit a petit, les chats deviennent l'ame de la maison," as Jean Cocteau once noted.

She may even be able to assist the chancellor in putting Old Blighty's financial house in order should he be astute enough to seek out her counsel. After all, cats know a thing or two concerning matters of the purse.

She succeeds Humphrey, a saucy tom, who arrived as a stray in October of 1989 during the waning days of the "Iron Lady's" rule and stayed on through John Major's tenure. He, unfortunately, was banished from governmental service in 1997 by Tony Blair's ailurophobic wife, Cherie.

Humphrey was then adopted by a member of the Cabinet and spent the remainder of his days in exile in south London. Sadly, he died about eighteen months ago. (See Cat Defender post of April 6, 2006 entitled "Humphrey, the Cat from 10 Downing Street Who Once 'Read' His Own Obituary, Passes Away at 18.")

Before Humphrey, there was a cat named Wilberforce who arrived at Number 10 in 1973 during the administration of Edward Heath and stayed on through the governments of Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, and Margaret Thatcher. (See photo above.) He retired on April 3, 1987 and died the following year.

London has been home to many famous felines over the centuries but its most illustrious one may not even have existed. Moreover, its name is not even known.

That cat belonged to Dick Whittington who was elected Lord Mayor of the city four times during the 1300s and 1400s. Real or fanciful, the cat has been immortalized in a modern stained-glass window at St. Michael Paternoster Royal on College Hill. The depiction shows a young Whittington with the cat sitting at his feet.

Photos: Getty (Sybil on the go), BBC (Sybil), and Frances Broomfield's painting from the Bridgeman Art Library (Wilberforce).

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Costa Rican Bull Rider Bites Off the Heads of Live Cats, Dogs, and Other Animals, Drinks Their Blood, and Then Eats Their Flesh

"Je me leve et dejeune toute chose qui marche par la, une colombe, un poulet, un chat, je les saisis, je lui extrais la tete, je bois le sang."
-- Douglas Barahona

Whatever else may be said against the consumers of feline flesh in Australia and China they at least kill their victims before devouring them. (See Cat Defender posts of September 7, 2007 and February 8, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Australians Renounce Civilization and Revert to Savages with the Introduction of a Grotesque Plan to Get Rid of Cats by Eating Them" and "Stray Cats Rounded Up in Shanghai, Butchered, and Sold as Mutton in Restaurants and on the Street.") The same cannot be said for Douglas Barahona.

He is a thirty-four-year-old bull rider from the city of Canas in the province of Guanacaste in Costa Rica and he eats live cats. (See photos above and below.) In addition to cats, he also dines on live dogs, pigeons, bats, snakes, earthworms, buzzards, frogs, toads, and chickens. (See photos at the bottom of the page of him devouring a live chicken.)

"Je me leve et dejeune toute chose qui marche par la, une colombe, un poulet, un chat, je les saisis, je lui extrais la tete, je bois le sang," he is quoted on August 3rd by Kisa, a web site serving the French-speaking communities of Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guiana, and Reunion, as saying. (See "Il Mange des Chiens et des Chats Vivants!")

Barahona asserts that eating the flesh and drinking the blood of live animals gives him the strength to be successful bull rider. He also admits that he very much enjoys feeling his helpless victims squirm inside his mouth.

While there is absolutely no evidence that behaving like a savage makes a bull rider better at his metier, there is plenty to suggest that all sorts of psychopaths get their kicks by killing and abusing small animals. This is no doubt the case with this monster.

Barahona began eating live prey four years ago and has no intention of changing his diet. In fact, he has pretty much lost his appetite for traditional Latin American cuisine and instead prefers to go into the mountains and devour live game. He even brags about grabbing snakes out of trees, biting them in half, and then eating them.

Although he will sink his teeth into almost anything that moves, he is particularly fond of earthworms and buzzards; conversely, he is not overly enthusiastic about either frogs of toads. That is because toad meat causes his tongue to go numb.

He also dearly loves to sink his incisors into live cats and dogs but his neighbors have gotten wise to what he is up to and no longer leave their companion animals outside. Strangely enough, he has never been arrested for stealing and killing cats and dogs.

This must be attributable to the fact that Costa Ricans condone such behavior. In particular, Diario Extra of San Jose, which broke the story on July 20th, asked him for a demonstration and he agreeably provided one for the newspaper's photographer. (See "Man Prefers Diet of Live Animals Over Rice and Beans.")

To its credit, La Sociedad Mundial para la Proteccion Animal (WSPA) in Heredia has asked the Ministerio Publico de Costa Rica to instigate legal action against Barahona. Under the Costa Rican penal code, however, cruelty to animals merits only a monetary fine.

"En la WSPA consideramos a los animales como seres que sienten y que merecen respeto y un trato humanitario," Patrick O'Marr, regional director for the Central America and Caribbean chapter of the WSPA, said in a July 28th press release that is available on the organization's web site. "Por ello, es totalmente inaceptable la conducta de Barahona y decidimos tomar acciones legales para que cese sus actividades."

Unfortunately, Barahona's crimes have received scant attention outside the region. Just because Costa Rica is an out-of-the-way country is not any reason for animal rights groups around the world and the international media to look the other way.

Furthermore, although bull riding is not nearly as inhumane as bullfighting, it is undeniable that all rodeo events are both abusive and exploitative of the bulls and horses that are used to stage them. The mere fact that the Costa Rican rodeo circuit has produced such a monster as Barahona is an indictment of the entire enterprise.

Attendance at a sporting event used to provide a pleasant distraction for the weary but that is no longer necessarily the case. Major League Baseball, the Tour de France, and professional wrestling have been ruined by doping scandals. The National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association have had their integrity called into question by gambling scandals.

Between Michael Vick's ruthless killing of dogs, both on-the-field and off-the-field violence and misconduct by various players, and the recent spy scandal involving the New England Patriots, the National Football League has become a cesspool of corruption and violence. Only today the Formula One racing team of McLaren-Mercedez was stripped of its points in the constructors' category and fined $100 million for accepting receipt of confidential information belonging to rival Ferrari.

If people are willing to attend events that are not on the level and to cheer on players who are either doped out of their gourds or commit criminal acts, that is their business. All societies should, however, be willing to draw the line at events and athletes that exploit and abuse animals.

Photos: Diario Extra.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Symphony Builds Its Beloved Mascot, Miss Widget, the Best Little Cat House in Texas

"There are two means of refuge from the misery of life: music and cats."
-- Albert Schweitzer

When the Dallas Wind Symphony (DWS) decided earlier this year to overhaul its antiquated sixty-eight-year-old administrative headquarters in the Fair Park Bandshell it was not about to neglect the needs of its resident feline, Miss Widget.

As the result, she now has her very own penthouse high atop a post decorated with sheet music from Gustav Holst's First Suite in E-Flat. (See photos above and below.) That, incidentally, was the first composition ever performed by the fifty-piece woodwind, brass, and percussion band that specializes in an eclectic mix of classical music and marches.

The renovation project, which featured the installation of new carpeting, furniture, and ceiling fans as well as improvements to the windows, was a collaborative effort of the DWS, students from the Art Institute of Dallas, and the Dallas chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). The students even held a "Best Little Cat House in Texas" competition in order to select the design of Miss Widget's privileged perch.

The office alterations as well as the construction of her new abode were, quite naturally, supervised by none other than Miss Widget herself. "When we had our first meeting at the Dallas Wind Symphony office, it became clear that Miss Widget was in charge of things there," ASID's R. Scott Frelick admitted to The Dallas Morning News on August 30th. (See "Dallas Wind Symphony's Office Cat Gets High-Style Home.") "As an animal lover, it was important to me that we made sure to include her in our design."

Miss Widget, who is now ten years old, was rescued from the Dallas Country Club in 1998 by the symphony's founder and executive director, Kim Campbell. She is now an indispensable member of band's staff and she even replies to inquiries from her adoring fans at widget@dws.org.

"It's fun having her," Lee Papert, director of development, said in a video available on The Dallas Morning News' web site. "She's great in the office."

As a testimony to the transformative power of cats, Papert admits that although he was not a cat person when he first came to work at DWS, he is definitely one now. He also feels that he is a more productive worker because he can interrupt his toils in order to socialize with Miss Widget.

The DWS, which has played before more than a million patrons since its inception back in 1985, seems to have taken to heart Albert Schweitzer's declaration that "there are two means of refuge from the misery of life: music and cats." Lovers of fine literature would no doubt say the same thing about their cats and books.

Photos: Natalie Caudill of The Dallas Morning News.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Australians Renounce Civilization and Revert to Savages with the Introduction of a Grotesque Plan to Get Rid of Cats by Eating Them

"The Asians have been eating cat and dog for centuries, so why can't we in Australia, where it would be really helpful if we started eating feral cats, camels, and rabbits?"
-- Kaye Kessing

Throughout the millennia the world has known many cat haters who have devised all sorts of diabolical schemes in order to exterminate the species. Nothing however can quite compare with the recently revealed plans of the Australians to eradicate cats by eating them into extinction.

This sinister plan is the brainchild of wildlife proponent and children's author Kaye Kessing who has adopted the culinary habits of the Chinese and aborigines as her moral guide. "The Asians have been eating cat and dog for centuries, so why can't we in Australia, where it would be really helpful if we started eating feral cats, camels, and rabbits?" she told Melbourne's The Age on August 30th. (See "Wild Cat Is Potluck for Hunters and Collectors.")

Although it is true that the Chinese and aborigines do eat cats, their motivation is rather different from that of the white Australians. Whereas the former are motivated by a perverse taste in food and folk superstition, the Australians' behavior is being driven by a deep-seated hatred of cats. (See Cat Defender post of February 8, 2006 entitled "Stray Cats Rounded Up in Shanghai, Butchered, and Sold as Mutton in Restaurants and on the Street.")

The Australians' dirty little secret was revealed writ large for the entire world to see when Kessing entered a stew made from feline flesh and quandongs (wild peaches) during the opening round of the Bushfoods-Wildfoods Recipe Competition in Alice Springs on August 25th. (See photo above of her exhibiting her feline and camel fare and the one below of her preening in her kitchen.)

"The judges all just bit the bullet and ate the cat," competition coordinator Linda Chellew told the Sydney Morning Herald on September 2nd. (See "Xenophilia: Feral Feline in a Stew" as reported in David Dale and Clara Iaccarino's blog, Stay in Touch.) "I had to very politely go and spit it out in the back room, because I just couldn't break it down. It was pretty tough."

A self-proclaimed ailurophobe, the fifty-seven-year-old Kessing began trapping and killing cats more than fifteen years ago on her ninety-nine acre estate in Alice Springs. Although she claims to have been motivated initially by a desire to protect native wildlife, this has never deterred her from divesting her victims of their valuable pelts which furthermore suggests that she is also a fur trafficker. In fact, some of the fur coats on display in showrooms in Manhattan, Beverly Hills, and elsewhere may have been made from her hides.

"When I started to skin and gut it, I thought the meat looked quite nice, and I knew the aboriginal mob roast them on the fire and like them," she told the Sydney Morning Herald in the article cited supra. "I thought I'd have a go too, so I made a cat-erole."

Besides cat stew, she makes a cat roast and has a friend who cooks cat sausages. She says that cat meat tastes something like a cross between rabbit, chicken, and goanna.

"It's white meat, they vary a lot. The first cat I cooked didn't have a strong flavor and I put a lot of ingredients with it and that made a beautiful stew," Kessing elaborated for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on August 27th. (See "Feral Cats on Bush Tucker Menu.") As for the concoction that made Chellew gag, Kessing described it as having been made from a "slightly larger cat" with a "slightly stronger flavor but...not as strong as rabbit."

The second round in the cooking contest was held on September 1st and two more rounds are planned for September 8th and 15th. Other than sickening Chellew, it is not known how Kessing's cat stew fared in the competition.

Kessing claims that she only kills and eats feral cats but even if she is telling the truth it is extremely difficult to tell the difference between them and domestic felines. A cat that finds itself homeless today, yesterday could have been a treasured family member. The distinction is superfluous anyway because in the moral realm there is absolutely no difference between murdering feral and domestic cats.

Once she discovered that she could save some shekels by eating cats, Kessing saw no reason to limit her appetite and is now recommending that all sorts of animals be consumed. As with the peddling of feline pelts, there are no doubt beaucoup bucks to be made from the hides, hair, bones, feathers, and other parts of the camels, horses, donkeys, rabbits, and pigeons that she wants to add to her fellow Australians' daily diet.

Although Australians have been eating kangaroos for a long time, Kessing conspicuously omits them from her revamped dinner menu. This is probably due to the fact that kangaroos are worth more in tourist dollars than they are at the butcher's shop.

Kessing and her fellow colonialists have no doubt stumbled upon a jackpot at the animals' expense. More importantly, they can always cloak their heinous crimes by claiming that they are protecting native wildlife and birds.

Since she speaks so approvingly of the aborigines' fondness for cat meat, it would be interesting to know just how far Kessing would be willing to go in emulating them. For example, would she be willing to give cannibalism a go if the authorities permitted it? After all, it would be another way for her not only to save a few shekels on her grocery bill but human flesh is said to be a good source of cheap protein. Moreover, she could cash in again by carefully extracting the gold and silver fillings from the teeth of her victims.

In addition to the complicity of Chellew and the other organizers of the cooking contest, Australian politicians have been quick to jump on board the cat-eating bandwagon. For example, Xavier Schobben, director of Environmental Health for the Northern Territory, told ABC in another August 27th report that although feasting on feral cats was perfectly legal the meat might contain toxins. (See "Cat Stew Legal, May Not Be Safe: Health Department.")

"It's not just the bacteria or the microbial organisms actually inside the animal; it's also the toxins they produce," he explained. "Even though (bacteria) die, they can still release toxins into the cavity et cetera..."

He went on to state that feral cat meat could not be legally sold unless it was certified to be safe. This admission in and of itself implies that some of the colonialists, possibly even Kessing, are killing cats and selling their flesh for profit.

The killing and eating of cats has also received the tacit approval of New South Wales politician Verity Firth who on September 2nd released a report blaming, inter alia, cats, dogs, foxes, rabbits, goats, carp, and redfin perch for preying upon native species. (See Sydney Morning Herald, September 2, 2007, "Feral Peril: Cats on the Rampage.")

Conveniently omitted from Firth's self-serving anti-cat screed is the petit fait that during the nineteenth century the parolees from London's High Gate and other penal institutions who colonized Australia shanghaied several hundred species of animals into coming with them to their new homeland. In addition to the animals singled out by Firth for demonization, camels, horses, donkeys, mules, hinnies, cane toads, and other species were also unwitting pawns in the colonialists' massive land grab.

Once they had outlived their usefulness, these animals were abandoned to fend for themselves on the outback. The fact that they are killing native species should not surprise anyone because they, like man and all other animals, must eat in order to survive.

Now, the Australians have begun to systematically exterminate them through en masse poisonings and aerial shootings from helicopters and airplanes. In addition to countless cats, rabbits, goats, red foxes, and cane toads, they are planning on killing five-hundred-thousand camels, three-hundred-thousand horses, five-million donkeys, and twenty-three-million pigs. (See Agence France Presse, September 25, 2005, "Millions of Animals Face Death Sentence in Australia" and Cat Defender posts of August 11, 2005 and January 6, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Barbaric Australians Come Up with an Ingenious New Poison in Order to Exterminate Cats" and "DNA Tests Confirm That 'Big Cat' Killed in Australia Was a Feral Tabby and Not a Puma.")

In addition to ailurophobia and a general disdain for all animals that do not put shekels in their pockets, these mass killings are being undertaken because developers want the animals' habitat and the Aussies have discovered that tourists will shell out big bucks in order to come and observe exotic fauna and flora. The liability that cats, dogs, horses, and other domestic animals are operating under is that no one will travel Down Under to see them.

All of their talk about protecting native wildlife and plants is an elaborate smokescreen that the Aussies trot out in order to mask their greed and crimes. It is important in this context to remember that in his Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce defined politics as "a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles."

Furthermore, not only are the Australians cruel and barbaric in their treatment of non-native species, but they have completely mismanaged their feline extermination plan on Macquarie. (See Cat Defender post of September 21, 2006 entitled "Aussies' Mass Extermination of Cats Opens the Door for Mice and Rabbits to Wreak Havoc on Macquarie.")

Most important of all, the unequivocal right of all of these maligned animals to go on living is completely absent from public discourse in Australia. The Aussies will not admit it, but they have just as much of a right to life and liberty as do the native species.

Above all, it is the duty of the colonialists to protect and safeguard their fragile lives. If they must be removed from the wild, this should be done humanely. Sanctuaries should be established for them, food provided, and birth control and sterilization initiatives could be introduced. Some of these animals could be donated to agrarian communities in the Third World where their assistance in checking the rodent population, tilling the fields, pulling wagons, et cetera would be much appreciated.

True to form, Australians are only willing to spend their precious dollars on guns, ammunition, traps, helicopters, and poisons. Sans doute, the manufacturers of these various killing devices own quite a few politicians. For example, the National Parks and Wildlife Service doles out A$19 million a year to individuals and companies that exterminate unwanted animals.

Plus, there is the revenue generated by the sale of hunting licenses to be factored into the equation as well as the money to be made from trafficking in animal flesh and pelts. Nor must the adrenaline rush that bloodthirsty Australians get from slaughtering defenseless animals be discounted.

Alice Springs' disgusting promotion of the eating of cat flesh was matched by the glowing endorsements this barbaric practice received from the Sydney Morning Herald in the article cited supra and Phil Mercer of the BBC on September 2nd. (See "Australians Cook Up Wild Cat Stew.") In fact, both news outlets published Kessing's cat stew recipe as an added inducement for their readers to go out and kill cats for the pot.

While Australia can justifiably lay claim to the undisputed title of being the most ailurophobic nation in the world, the cats have at least one supporter in the form of a Melbourne web site known as Flippy's Cat Page. Unwilling to remain silent in the face of Kessing's crimes, the web site's Rachel Lorenz is circulating an online petition calling for a boycott of Kessing's books. The petition is also being forwarded to the RSPCA, the Cat Protection Society and, for what it is worth, various politicians.

"Her recent barbaric slaughter of stray and homeless cats to use them as food is inhumane and morally reprehensible," Lorenz told London's Newswire on August 30th. (See "Cooking Feral Cat Draws Outrage from Cat Lovers.") "Shame on you, Kaye Kessing! You are now being officially and very publicly boycotted."

Lorenz's co-worker, Georgina Phillips, called Kessing's crimes "disgusting." She went on to add, "People sicken me sometimes. No wonder I prefer animals than people."

Do not expect Kristina Vesk of the Cat Protection Society of New South Wales to be breaking bread with Kessing anytime soon either. "To have people out there trivializing the treatment of animals as though it is some kind of joke is a bit depressing," she told The Age. "This is not taking a rational or humane response to the problems of feral animals in wildlife areas and I certainly wouldn't want to have dinner with her."

Flippy's boycott has been endorsed by Nohl Rosen, founder of Cat Galaxy, an Internet radio station based in Phoenix that has a format geared toward cats and their guardians. (See photo above of him and program director Icarus.) "This is absolutely a despicable crime against cats," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Our station finds this completely disgusting and the killing of feral cats for any reason is wrong."

Rosen went on to castigate Kessing not only for killing and eating cats, but also for setting an atrocious example for her juvenile readers. In fact, some of her works amount to little more than hate-filled diatribes directed against cats and other imported species which is just the opposite of what young minds should be reading.

Rosen, who also criticized Chellew and the other judges for sampling Kessing's cat stew, concluded by declaring, "Cats are wonderful, intelligent creatures and by doing them harm, Kessing has shown herself to be inconsiderate and a poor example of a human being!"

From forced relocation to exploitation, vivisection, abandonment, demonization, and finally mass exterminations, Australians have now graduated to eating their former companions and mousers and to peddling their flesh and fur. It does not appear that they have overlooked any opportunity to abuse and exploit cats.

Perhaps more poignantly, whenever a supposedly civilized people start to imitate primitive tribes it is a sure sign that they have lost their moral compasses and are now descending, as opposed to ascending, the evolutionary ladder. Perhaps in a few years Kessing and her fellow wildlife and bird advocates will be dressing in hides, living in caves, and grunting in pidgin.

Photos: Wayne Taylor of The Age (Kessing) and Cat Galaxy (Rosen and Icarus).

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Kitten Named Moppel Is Rescued Unharmed from a Leghold Trap in Sachsen but a Cat in Decatur Is Not Nearly So Fortunate

"Tellereisen auszulegen ist strengstens verboten. Die gefangenen Tiere sterben oft qualvoll."
-- Karen Oettmeier, Tierschuetzerin

From Deutschland to Decatur leghold traps are continuing to main cats and kittens. Whether they are set in order to trap wildlife or purposefully employed to target felines, the result is universally the same: excruciating pain, dismemberment, and often death.

In the small Sachsen town of Rodau, fifty-seven-year-old gardener Reiner Kuempfel rescued a twelve-week-old kitten named Moppel from a leghold trap back in July. The tiny kitten escaped death by only a matter of inches in that it was his neck rather than a paw that had become entangled in the trap. (See photos above and below.)

Since he had been feeding the kitten for some time, the kindhearted Kuempfel immediately recognized his plaintive cries and scaled a fence in order to rescue him. "Er hat am ganzen Koerper gezittert, aber zum Glueck war er nicht zu schwer verletzt," he told Bild on July 18th. (See "Irrer Tierhasser jagt Katzen mit Fangeisen.")

Animal protector Karin Oettmeier was appalled that the illegal device was used to trap Moppel. "Tellereisen auszulegen ist strengstens verboten," she told Bild in the article cited supra. "Die gefangenen Tiere sterben oft qualvoll."

In Decatur, Alabama, the departments of Fire, Rescue, and Public Works were forced to use their water trucks in order to flush a young black male cat out of a sewer where he had unwittingly fled on August 10th after getting caught in a leghold trap. (See photo below.) Unlike Moppel, there is a good chance that the unnamed cat will lose one of his front paws.

"Of course the cat was stressed that it couldn't get out and panicked and ran into a storm drain," Animal Shelter Director Mindy Gilbert told The Decatur Daily on August 11th. (See "Three City Departments Unite to Rescue Cat Caught in Trap.") The narrowness of the sewer pipe precluded officials from manually rescuing the cat.

The cat was treated by veterinarian Steve Osborne and remains at the shelter. Since he was not wearing a collar, officials do not have any way of contacting his owner or even knowing for sure that he has one.

While leghold traps are not illegal in Alabama, their use is frowned upon by Gilbert. "What would happen if a child accidentally ran into it?" she asked. "And if you capture a wild animal by the leg, what do you do with it then? This cat was hard enough to handle."

Besides, the shelter lends humane traps to the public and will collect any animals that are trapped.

Despite being deadly and painful, cats and other animals do not have any way of extricating themselves from these diabolical torture devices. For instance, in August of 2005 a cat named Hopalong Cassidy was forced to drag around a leghold trap for several days after he became ensnared in one in Ellison, British Columbia. (See photo above.)

His painful ordeal cost him his right leg but he was later adopted. (See Cat Defender post of August 18, 2005 entitled "Brave Orange Tabby Cat Dubbed Hopalong Cassidy Loses Limb to Leghold Trap in British Columbia.")

In December of the same year, a black and white cat named Trapper from Mission, British Columbia was injured when he was also caught in a leghold trap. (See photo on the right.) Like Hopalong, he was forced to drag around the trap for quite a while before he was rescued. (See Cat Defender post of December 24, 2005 entitled "A Cat Named Trapper Falls Victim to Another Rusty Leghold Trap in British Columbia.")

There is no place in any halfway humane society for the use of leghold traps and this applies equally to wild as well as to domestic animals. Unfortunately, these traps are difficult to trace and no arrests have ever been made in any of these cases.

One possible means of altering this deplorable situation would be to encrypt leghold traps with serial numbers that are then stored in a database. That would be of some assistance to the police in apprehending individuals who misuse these devices.

It would be better yet if countries such as Deutschland, Canada, and the United States were to outlaw their manufacture, importation, sale, and use altogether. That would require citizens of these countries to take animal cruelty seriously for a change, however, and that is not about to happen anytime soon.

Photos: Andreas Wetzel of Poerschmann and Thomas Schroeder of DeFodiM.V via Bild (Moppel), The Decatur Daily (unnamed black cat), Kelowna SPCA (Hopalong Cassidy), and Carol Aun of the Mission City Record (Trapper).