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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

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Repeated Hounding Down and Tagging of Walruses Exposes Electronic Surveillance as Not Only Cruel but a Fraud

"As politics have (sic) gotten more and more polarized, everyone has to claim their views are objective, pure, and factual, which means they are pulled into the scientific side. Most of these issues are largely values questions, but no one wants to discuss those, so we end up with baroque debates about science."
-- Professor David Goldston

The patently cruel and inhumane practice of using electronic gadgetry in order to spy upon and control the activities and movements of animals is perhaps nowhere more poignantly demonstrated than in the ongoing tagging of walruses by the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources. More importantly and contrary to the scientists' claims, abusing and subjugating these majestic animals is not going to contribute anything beneficial toward their conservation.

For the past three years or so, Professor Erik Born and his colleagues have been hounding down Greenland's walruses and using crossbows, harpoons, and CO2 guns in order to dart them. (See photo above of lead tagger Mikkel Villum Jensen with a crossbow and the photo immediately below of skipper Knud Lennart with a harpoon.)

The matchbook-sized transmitters (See photo below on the right) are attached to razor-sharp ice picks which are driven deep into the behemoths' hides by the force of the weapons. (See photo below of a tagged walrus.) Born and his fellow researchers insist that the walruses do not feel any pain but that is the same old song that taggers, vivisectors, shelters, slaughterhouses, hunters, and animal abusers of all genres have always sung.

Even if that were the case, open wounds are always subject to infections that can sometimes be fatal. Besides, being chased for miles on end before being darted is traumatic in and of itself.

The transmitters, which cost several hundred dollars apiece, remain in situ for up to two months until the walruses' wounds heal and thus push them out. Or at least that is what the researchers claim.

Since satellites can only pick up signals from the transmitters whenever the animals are either resting on the ice or poke their heads above the water in order to breathe, it is conceivable that their skin grows over them and they therefore remain indefinitely inside their bodies poisoning their systems. Taggers never disclose the number of animals that they kill and their supporters in the moneybags media are not about to spill the beans on them.

Some of the transmitters also shatter upon impact with the walruses' four-inch-thick hides, others are scrapped off in collisions with the ice, and some of their antennas are crushed when the animals roll over on top of them. This, of course, provides a convenient rationale for the scientists to repeatedly hunt them down and tag them again and again.

Born and his partners in crime tagged eight walruses in April of 2007 and six more in August. The latter group, however, had the tags attached to their thirty-inch-long tusks.

The BBC, which has been cheerleading for the animal abusers while simultaneously masquerading as an honest media outlet, is keeping quiet about the modus operandi employed during this latest round of tagging. Most likely the animals were stalked while resting on the ice and then tranquilized.

The transmitters were then affixed to their tusks while DNA samples were taken and the animals measured and possibly even weighed. God only knows what else the researchers did to them while they were incapacitated.

The transmitters are expected to remain in place for eighteen months and that fact alone not only raises concerns about how they were secured but their cumbersomeness as well. Tant pis, they will more than likely remain attached even after they stop functioning unless the scientists elect to hound them down again and fit them with new surveillance equipment. (See photo further down the page of a walrus using his tusks in order to break through the ice.)

According to the Greenland Institute's propaganda, the tagging has been undertaken for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is to discover where the walruses spend their summer vacations. "We want to find out where they are going," Born told the BBC on April 3, 2007. (See "GPS to Reveal Walrus Whereabouts.")

This is disingenuous for a number of reasons. First of all, it is not anyone's business where the walruses spend their summer vacations. They do not nose around trying to determine where humans spend their free time and scientists likewise do not have any legitimate reason for snooping into their affairs.

Secondly, Born admits in an October 11th interview with the BBC that he already knows that the walruses spend their summer vacations in and around Canada's Baffin Island. (See "Over and Out from Tagged Walruses.") Nevertheless, he is not about to give the beleaguered animals a moment's rest.

"And we will also have to go out next year and maybe the years after to put out more tags on Greenland's walruses, to make sure than we can have a sufficiently large sample size to make a firm conclusion," he declared. In other words, as long as there are walruses to tag and the money in order to do so, Born has absolutely no intention of ever leaving the animals alone.

Since Greenland's and Canada's walruses are still hunted by both commercial concerns and aborigines for their hides, ivory, meat, and blubber, Born's use of electronic surveillance in order to amass data on sustainability levels amounts to little more than pimping and whoring for animal killers and shekel counters.

Genetic research is another motivating factor driving the tagging campaign. Specifically, researchers desire to learn more about the genetic relationship between Greenland's and Canada's walruses as well as the differences between the eight recognized subspecies of Atlantic walruses (O. rosmarus rosmarus), which are distinguishable from Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) and Siberian walruses (O. rosmarus laptevi).

Conservationists estimate that there are approximately two-hundred-thousand Pacific walruses but only around twenty-thousand Atlantic walruses and as few as five-thousand to ten-thousand of the Siberian variety. Despite their seemingly abundant numbers, the Center for Biological Diversity nonetheless filed a petition with the thoroughly discredited United States Fish and Wildlife Service on February 7th seeking to extend to them the protections of the Endangered Species Act.

This action is designed to protect them from the detrimental effects of global warming, oil and natural gas exploration, and the opening up of shipping routes in the Arctic. (See February 8, 2007 press release entitled "Endangered Species Act Protection Sought for Pacific Walrus Threatened by Global Warming, Oil Development.")

Although walruses have a life expectancy of fifty years, females give birth only about once every two years and this results in the species having the lowest reproductive rate of any pinniped. On the positive side, their only natural predators are orcas and polar bears but this advantage is all but negated by the carnage that hunters and the scientific community inflict upon them.

It is axiomatic that genetic research involves trapping and tranquilizing animals and then confiscating their DNA. This is most likely the raison d'etre behind attaching transmitters to the walruses' tusks.

Since mollusks provide a substantial portion of the walruses' diet, researchers claim that they want to discover what impact oil and natural gas exploration along the seabed is having on their food supply. That rationale is duplicitous in that oil companies should be banned from drilling in the oceans not only because of the impact that their activities have upon aquatic life but also because of the water and noise pollution that such activities engender.

Just the opposite is occurring, however. On February 6th, the Bush Administration opened up 2.7 million acres of the Pacific walruses' summer range along the Chukchi Sea to oil and natural gas exploration.

In 2006, researchers at Bangor University killed a four-hundred-five-year-old clam while conducting research off Iceland. (See Daily Telegraph, October 30, 2007, "Clam 405, Is Oldest Animal Ever.") Clearly, the scientific community cares little or nothing about preserving life and its members are perfectly willing to kill any animal if the dictates of either their egos or pocketbooks so dictates.

Similarly, there was not any outrage from either the scientific community or conservationists when a one-hundred-fifteen-year-old bowhead was savagely killed by Alaskan Eskimos in 2007. (See Cat Defender post of June 18, 2007 entitled "Alaskan Eskimos Bomb and Butcher One-Hundred-Fifteen-Year-Old Bowhead with the Complicity of the United States, IWC, and Sea Shepherd.")

Climate change is another reason advanced for repeatedly tagging and monitoring the activities of walruses. While the melting of the polar ice cap no doubt potentially spells doom for walruses, polar bears, and other species, Born and his colleagues have yet to explain how tagging mitigates the disastrous consequences of global warming.

Much the same thing can be said for pollution. Although both Roger Payne and Iain Kerr of Ocean Alliance are keenly aware of the devastating effects of ocean pollution, their only contribution so far toward saving aquatic life has been to mistreat whales.

For instance, they have spent the last five and one-half years sailing around the globe harassing and darting thousands of whales with crossbows. The darts tear off a small amount of blubber which the scientists then retrieve and perform biopsies on in order to test for pollution.( See photo at the bottom of the page of them stalking a whale.)

What they have discovered so far is that whales, not surprisingly, are inordinately contaminated with fire retardants (PBDEs), mercury, metals, and organic compounds. "But what we can say is that these animals are polluted beyond your wildest dreams," Payne told Living on Earth (LOE) on February 15th. (See "Bad News from the Blubber.") "They are appallingly polluted."

That is not anything new, however. Everybody knows that the seas are horribly polluted just as the air and outer space are equally contaminated. It would be refreshing if the scientific community would for a change tell the world something that everybody does not already know.

It would be better still if scientists and wildlife proponents were willing to confront the groups that are killing off the animals and destroying the environment but that, too, is not about to happen. In fact, Payne spends an inordinate amount of his time cozying up to precisely those interests.

"My feeling is there (are) as many people of good will in General Motors as there are in Greenpeace," he fatuously crowed to LOE in the article cited supra. "I think that it's just a matter of contacting these people and getting to know them and that the confrontation between environmentalists and industry is ludicrous."

He goes on to declare, "It's a terrible mistake. It accomplishes nothing, so one of the things that we have tried to do in the past is to work with these people, and when you do you discover oh my gosh, they're fabulously talented and they can do wonderful things. And just need to know, okay, where's the problem, and they can help to fix it."

Besides being patently absurd, Payne's sophistry recalls to mind Mike Gravel's curt dismissal of the zany notion that those Democrats now in power could ever be expected to get the United States out of Iraq when they were in fact every bit as responsible as the Republicans for leading the country into that unpopular quagmire in the first place. It is also important to remember Machiavelli's observation that armed princes succeed where unarmed ones fail.

Besides, as any fool knows, the capitalists are becoming more predatory every day. There may be a few men and women within their ranks who care about the animals and Mother Earth but they are largely irrelevant.

Without lawyers, advocacy groups, militants, and caring individuals there would not be either an animal rights movement or an environmental campaign. Payne can therefore be dismissed as a brownnoser who spends half of his time sucking the shekels out of the cracks of his capitalist buddies and the other half harassing and abusing whales in the pursuit of his self-serving, irrelevant tagging experiments.

Fewer people, less greed, conservation, and strict limits on CO2 emissions is the only formula that will prevent an ecological catastrophe. The time for study and jawboning is long past; what is needed now is concerted action.

Instead of confronting the greed of the oil companies and consumers alike, Born, Payne, and others only want to enslave walruses, whales, and other animals. "However, to get good information about how climate is affecting walruses, we are going to need to go out and do these tagging studies for many years," Born told the BBC in the October 11th article cited supra.

While Born and the scientific community continue to squander precious time and resources playing their domination games, walruses already are dying because of climate change. Last fall, par exemple, as many as four-thousand Pacific walruses were killed in stampedes on the Russian side of the Bering Strait. (See Canadian Press, December 17, 2007, "Thousands of Pacific Walruses Die; Global Warming Blamed.")

Due to the melting of the ice in the Chukchi and East Siberian seas, large numbers of walruses were forced to haul out on dry land in order to rest and to give birth. The resulting stampedes, which also led to the drowning deaths of many young calves, could have been caused by polar bears, hunters, or even low-flying airplanes.

Compounding matters further, the disappearance of the polar ice cap during the summer months is likely to precipitate a food shortage. Since the walruses no longer will have ice from which to dive for clams and snails, they will be forced to hunt in coastal waters which could eventually deplete those areas.

"With rapid action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combined with a moratorium on new oil and gas development and shipping routes in the Arctic, we can still save the Pacific walrus, the polar bear, and the Arctic ecosystem," Shaye Wolf of the Center for Biological Diversity said in the organization's February 8th press release cited supra. "But the window of opportunity to act is closing rapidly."

In addition to being patently inhumane and serving as a convenient subterfuge in order to avoid confronting greedy capitalists, self-indulgent consumers, dirty polluters, and sadistic hunters, electronic surveillance of the animals obscures the moral neutrality of the scientific method itself. Whereas science is capable of producing weapons of mass destruction, clones, industrial-scale pollutants, and other harmful inventions, it is totally neutral as to the desirability of doing so.

Professor David Goldston of Princeton did not pull any punches when he told USA Today on August 6, 2007, "As politics have (sic) gotten more and more polarized, everyone has to claim their views are objective, pure, and factual, which means they are pulled into the scientific side. Most of these issues are largely values questions, but no one wants to discuss those, so we end up with baroque debates about science." (See "Science Versus Politics Gets Down and Dirty.")

To put it succinctly, the debate boils down to whether or not mankind believes that Mother Earth and the animals are worth saving. That is a quintessentially normative inquiry that science cannot begin to answer and to pretend otherwise is the very pinnacle of dishonesty.

Despite the obstacles, the answer to that all-important question should be a resounding yes! Not only because of their intrinsic value but also due to the petit fait that the path down which the scientists, capitalists, media barons, and militarists are dragging all creation is a cul-de-sac.

Native American environmental activist and University of Colorado professor Vine DeLoria Jr. summed up the dilemma confronting twenty-first century man in a nutshell when he defined progress as "the absolute destruction of the real world in favor of a technology that creates a comfortable way of life for a few fortunately situated people."

Given that reality, the way forward is clear: let the animals and Mother Earth live!

Photos: BBC (Jensen, Lennart, radio tag, and tagged walrus), Wikipedia (walrus using tusks in order to knife through the ice), and Chris Johnson of Ocean Alliance (whale being stalked).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Dark Side of Spay and Neuter: Veterinarian Botched Surgeries and Back Alley Castrations Claim the Lives of Numerous Cats


"They just don't want to accept that it's their fault because they didn't do the operation right. Mistakes do happen but they are trying to cover it up or something."
-- Nadia Pavlovic

Over the past few decades sterilization has become the Holy Grail of cat and dog advocates. Even celebrities such as Bob Barker have jumped on the spay and neuter bandwagon.

While sterilization is sans doute a huge improvement over en masse exterminations, it is not without its negative aspects. Most poignantly, it can sometimes be fatal as forty-seven-year-old Nadia Pavlovic of Oxford recently found out when she lost her cat, Darcy, to a botched spaying.

Darcy's ovaries were removed by Andrew Bartholomew Veterinary Surgeons of Iffley Road in either late December or early January and the cat was immediately sent home. By the next morning, however, Pavlovic noticed that she had cold paws and would not touch her food.

She then telephoned the surgery with her concerns only to be informed that she had no need to worry and that Darcy would be fine. Not believing Bartholomew's reassurances for one moment, she sought out and received a second opinion from another vet who advised her to rush Darcy back to the surgery.

Malheureusement, she was too late. Darcy died en route and a necropsy later revealed that she had bled to death.

Despite her requests for an explanation, Bartholomew has steadfastly refused to tell her either what went wrong with the operation or to even apologize for killing Darcy. Although it is not known if Pavlovic is planning a wrongful death lawsuit, she certainly has more than ample cause for such an undertaking.

"They just don't want to accept that it's their fault because they didn't do the operation right," Pavlovic told the Oxford Mail on February 3rd. (See "Woman's Pleas to Know How Cat Died.") "Mistakes do happen but they are trying to cover it up or something."

Although no statistics are kept as to the number of cats that are killed by botched sterilizations, the death toll must be exceedingly high based solely upon the sheer volume of such procedures. Nevertheless, the errors committed by trained practitioners pale in comparison with the horrific crimes of back alley butchers who crudely attempt to sterilize cats.

Par exemple, on January 26th an unknown assailant in Marion, North Carolina, wound a rubber band around the genitals of a handsome black and white longhaired moggy named Little Bit. Discovered a day later covered in blood, veterinarian John Owens was able to save his penis but not his testicles.

"All of that tissue was diseased and coming off by the time the kitty was brought here," Owens told The McDowell News on January 30th. (See "Me-Ouch! Investigators Search for Person Who Castrated Cat.") "It (the rubber band) cuts off the blood supply to those tissues. They rot and fall off."

Little Bit has been placed on antibiotics but is unable to rest comfortably because of the extent of his very painful injuries. He is, thankfully, going to live and that is the important thing. "I think he's going to do just fine," Owens predicted.

He is considerably less sanguine when it comes to the perpetrator of this despicable crime. "If they do that to an animal, they can do that to a person," he added ominously.

Little Bit's caretaker, Karen Pressley, concurs. "It is beyond my understanding," she told The McDowell News in the article cited supra. "It's a wonder he didn't die."

While the use of rubber bands in order to castrate cats, dogs, and bulls is fairly common on farms, on the Hawaiian island of Maui knives are the weapon of choice. In fact, the back alley sterilization of cats has reached unprecedented levels there despite the availability of an abundance of low-cost professional alternatives.

On November 30, 2006, then thirty-two-year-old Dina Santos of Pukalani hired fifty-year-old Victor Prones of nearby Kula to castrate her shorthaired white cat. Prones then proceeded to secure the defenseless animal to a board with duct tape in order to keep him for biting.

The savage then used a knife in order to remove his testicles. At no time was the cat provided with either anesthesia or pain medication. When the cat began to hemorrhage, Prones crudely attempted to stanch the flow by fraying the ends of his blood vessels.

Mercifully, one of Santos' neighbors later discovered the horribly mutilated cat and took him to a veterinarian. Bleeding from his scrotum, suffering from a severe infection, and stripped of large chunks of his fur by the duct tape, the cat was hospitalized overnight and required veterinary treatment costing in excess of $400.

Little Bit and Karen Pressley

On January 16, 2007, Santos pleaded guilty to one charge of animal cruelty in Wailuki District Court and was fined a minuscule $255. Incredibly, the court allowed her to retain possession of the cat!

Prones, who pleaded nolo contendere, was fined $500 but one-half of that amount was suspended for one year.

"In today's society, there is no justifiable reason to do home castrations of companion animals if you're not a veterinarian," Aimee Anderson of the Maui Humane Society told The Maui News on February 23, 2007. (See "Home Neutering Leads to Two Fines.") "It is important to spay and neuter, obviously. However, it has to be done properly."

Along about this same time an ailing eight-month-old orange Abyssinian and tabby mix subsequently dubbed Boo Boo Kitty was picked up on Alohi Street in Pukalani and taken to Upcountry Veterinary Services where he was diagnosed to be suffering from another botched castration. In addition to also missing huge chunks of his fur, a tendon had been removed from one of his rear legs and he had developed a severe E. coli infection that had spread down his legs.

"The doc said it was really sick," Laura Daily who works for veterinarian Ronald Moyer told The Maui News on July 2, 2007. (See "Animal Cruelty Felony Offense.") "We didn't think he was going to pull through."

Fortunately, both she and Moyer were wrong. It took eight surgeries, including three skin grafts, and cost in excess of $3,000 but Boo Boo somehow survived.

Daily, who began taking the kitten home overnight while he was recuperating, has since adopted him. "He's the most awesome cat," she told The Maui News. "He's so sweet. He has no fear. He was probably this trusting little soul."

It is precisely their lack of fear and blind trust in humans that makes domesticated cats such easy targets for back alley castrators. The authorities on Maui conducted an investigation into Boo Boo's mutilation but were unable to turn up any suspects and no one ever came forward to reclaim him.

The rash of back alley sterilizations has prompted officials on Maui to enact tougher animal cruelty legislation that criminalizes this type of flagrant abuse. In particular, it is now a felony for anyone who "intentionally or knowingly tortures, mutilates, or poisons or causes the torture, mutilation or poisoning of any pet animal, resulting in serious bodily injury or death to the pet animal."

"People just don't know," Daily said. "Maybe if they know (sic), this won't (sic) happen. People don't need to do this. There are so many free or very low-cost spaying and neutering that it's silly."

She is, of course, wrong on all counts. Individuals who perform back alley sterilizations know exactly what they are doing. They are simply too cheap to spend one penny on a proper procedure and accordingly do not care either how much pain that they inflict or even if they kill their patients.

The only solution is to make sterilizations free to pet owners who either cannot or will not pay. Moreover, just as there is a crisis in health care for humans, veterinarian fees are rising at an astounding nine per cent a year. (See Cat Defender post of September 25, 2007 entitled "Acid Attack Leaves Solskjaer with Severe Injuries and Horrific Pain as His Heartbroken and Cash-Strapped Family Struggles to Cope.")

The outrageous fees charged by veterinarians are prompting some cat and dog owners to entrust the health and lives of their companions to quacks who not only perform illegal sterilizations but far more serious procedures as well. (See Cat Defender posts of February 14, 2006 and August 17, 2006 entitled "Special Agent Fred the Cat Goes Undercover to Help Nab Quack Vet in Brooklyn Sting Operation" and "Brave Little Fred the Undercover Cat Has His Short, Tragic Life Snuffed Out by Hit-and-Run Driver in Queens.")

Maui's new law is a good start but the authorities must appropriate the funds and have the will to enforce it in order for it to be successful. More importantly, judges must begin to take castration cases seriously and punish perpetrators accordingly.

On a more general level, advocates claim that the case in favor of sterilization is a slam dunk. In the case of female cats, they argue that spaying reduces the incidence of both uterine and mammary cancer, helps to prevent the formation of ovarian cysts, and eliminates such common complications of pregnancy as birth defects and still births.

Neutering meanwhile is said not only to reduce the likelihood that tomcats will develop testicular cancer, but it also obviates the need for them to roam and fight. Overall, sterilization is said to make both male and female cats easier to handle and therefore more loving pets.

Nonetheless, sterilization is patently unnatural and that in and of itself makes it suspect. Secondly, it is an invasive procedure and all such operations carry health risks.

Cats Awaiting Sterilization

Sterilized cats also have a disturbing tendency to put on excessive amounts of weight which in turn quite often leads to the onset of diabetes. (See Cat Defender post of August 22, 2007 entitled "Indoor Cats Are Dying from Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Various Toxins in the Home.") Neutered toms also have a tendency to develop bladder stones.

Although it is questionable as to why indoor cats need to be sterilized in the first place, the procedure is routine for them in most instances despite of what happened to Darcy. The spaying and neutering of feral cats is considerably more problematic, however.

To begin with, caretakers starve them in order to lure them into traps. This is not only traumatic for the cats but it destroys whatever minimal level of trust that had developed between them and those who feed them. This in turn makes socializing them for future adoption far more difficult.

The cats are next anesthetized, tied down to a gurney, their undersides shaved, and their reproductive organs removed.  Following the operation, their ears are then slit with a scalpel and they are immediately returned to the wild with little or no post-operative care.

Some of them die from too much anesthesia while others are left to bleed to death alone in the woods when their stitches break. Cats still groggy from the anesthesia also are easy prey for other animals and motorists.

Tagging sterilized cats by notching their ears can also lead to infections. Any feral colony caretaker who is on the ball should be able to tell by sight which cats have been altered and, if not, less invasive methods are available. Besides, any feral cat who has been previously trapped is unlikely to commit the same faux pas again.

Various individuals and organizations are currently working to develop a birth control method for cats that they claim will alleviate the need to trap and sterilize. It is too early to tell if this is going to be feasible but any medication that disrupts normal hormonal activity is problematic.

For instance, women who take oral contraceptives are prone to both a loss of libido and depression. Physicians then in turn place them on antidepressants which also have side effects.

Similar complications can no doubt be expected to occur in cats as they already have developed in elephants and other animals who have had either their estrus cycles disrupted or been brutalized by vasectomies. (See Washington Post, February 26, 2008, "South Africa to Resume Elephant Culling.")

It also is important to keep in mind that the practice of veterinary medicine is a racket. Just as veterinarians clean up financially by administering unnecessary vaccinations and euthanizations, they also make a packet off of removing ovaries and testicles.

Worst still, some of them cash in again by selling the ovaries that they remove from female cats to cloners and vivisectors. (See Cat Defender post of April 21, 2005 entitled "Sterilization Is Cruel, Barbaric, and Deadly.") If the goal of en masse sterilizations is to reduce the feline population this practice is not only immoral but dishonest as well.

Like it or not, sterilization and all its attendant cruelties is here to stay. Individuals who love cats have a right to insist, however, that these procedures be performed correctly and that post-operative care be provided.

One glaring example of the slipshod, fly-by-night nature of some en masse sterilizations occurred in February of 2005 when Alley Cat Allies left the cafeteria at a public school in Washington in such deplorable condition that classes scheduled for the following Monday had to be canceled. The cleanup alone reportedly cost between $5,000 and $10,000. (See Washington Post, February 22, 2005, "Cat Clinic Outrages D.C. Parents; Procedures Done in School Cafeteria.")

Finally, sterilization alone will not solve the problem of feline overpopulation. A ban on cloning and hybridization as well as strict controls on breeders and other cat purveyors are also needed.

Additional research into the field of feline sexuality would also be beneficial. Since climate, diet, and the number of available sexual partners all play such key roles in feline reproduction, there just possibly might be some natural way of manipulating these variables in order to stabilize the population. (See Cat Defender post of January 23, 2007 entitled "Global Warming Blamed for Unseasonable Increase in Feral Kitten Births on Long Island.")

Although new approaches to this age-old problem are desperately needed, in the end there is not any substitute for cat owners who take their responsibilities seriously.

Photos: Nadia Pavlovic (Darcy), The McDowell News (Little Bit and Karen Pressley), and Huro Kitty of Flickr and Best Friends Catnippers Feral Cat Spay-Neuter Clinic (cats being sterilized).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Exotic and Hybrid Cats, Perennial Objects of Exploitation and Abuse, Are Now Being Mutilated, Abandoned, and Stolen

One of the African Servals Found in Seattle
"It's a predator. It's a wild animal."
-- Seattle Animal Control Officer Don Baxter

"They're not dangerous."
-- Saginaw Animal Control Officer Kevin James

Although the creation and sale of exotic cats and hybrids has become a booming business, it also has its down side. Specifically, more and more of these genetically modified cats are either running away from home or being dumped at shelters by disgruntled owners.

This is in turn necessitating the founding of specialized rescue groups and sanctuaries in order to care for these abused and misused cats. While breeding, registration, retail sales, and abandonment statistics are difficult to obtain, a few poignant examples culled from the news media will help to delineate the scope of the problems faced by these cats.

In Seattle, Animal Control officers captured two African Servals during the month of January. Both of them were about one-year of age and had been cruelly declawed.

Since exotic cats and hybrids are often sold in pairs, the officers believe that the cats were owned by the same person. So far, however, that person has not come forward to reclaim them.

Consequently, the cat captured on New Year's Day has been sent to an exotic animal sanctuary in Redmond and the one trapped on January 19th will most likely soon follow suit.  Since these cats are said to be difficult to rehome, they will probably have to remain at the sanctuary for the remainder of their lives.

"It's a predator. It's a wild animal," Animal Control Officer Don Baxter proclaimed to KOMO-TV of Seattle on January 23rd. (See "Exotic Cats Found Wandering Around Seattle.") "If someone has some chickens or rabbits that are pets, this is absolutely a hunter who would go after them."

In the Fort Worth suburb of Saginaw, an African Serval named Gizmo escaped through an open window in October and was on the lam for five days before owner Christina Miller tracked him down and recaptured him. When an offer of cat food failed to entice the cat, Miller offered him some bottled water and that did the trick.

Unlike Seattle, however, individuals in Saginaw are allowed to own exotic cats provided that they purchase a wild animal certificate and register them. Unfortunately, Miller also chose to have Gizmo declawed.

"He's a great pet and we've raised him for the last five and one-half years and this is a first for us," she told WCBS-TV of New York on October 24th of last year. (See "Escaped African Serval Cat Caught in Texas.") "It's very disturbing."

In total disagreement with Seattle's Baxter, Saginaw Animal Control Officer Kevin James told WCBS-TV, "They're not dangerous. They eat things smaller than what will fit in our mouth 'cause they eat everything whole. So I don't think any domesticated pet will have anything to worry about, unless it's a hamster."

Although Servals have been known to kill small antelopes, the Cat Survival Trust maintains that more than ninety per cent of their prey weighs less than seven ounces.

African Serval Rescued in Mahopac

It thus appears that James clearly has the better of Baxter on that issue. Besides, without their claws their hunting prowess is significantly diminished.

Baxter's libels are not, however, surprising when viewed in light of Washington State's notorious anti-cat policies. Only recently, Seattle Parks and Recreation, the city's animal shelter, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the USDA went out of their way in order to protect a coyote that had killed at least one cat and stalked several dogs in Discovery Park. (See Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 1, 2008, "Coyote in Discovery Park Won't Be Killed.")

More to the point, this was not an isolated incident. Elsewhere in Washington State, wildlife officials have repeatedly come down on the side of coyotes and raccoons that have killed cats. (See Cat Defender posts of August 28, 2006 and October 2, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Marauding Pack of Vicious Raccoons Rip Ten House Cats to Shreds and Terrorize Residents but Wildlife Officials Refuse to Intervene" and "Coyotes, Cheered on by Wildlife Officials, Join Raccoons in Killing Cats and Dogs in Washington State.")

Officials in Washington State like to masquerade as wildlife proponents but they were exposed as hypocrites as far back as 1981 when they evicted a mountain lion dubbed D.B. Cougar from Discovery Park. In other words, some wildlife is welcome in Washington but certainly not cougars and African Servals. As far as domestic and feral cats are concerned, it goes without saying that their antipathy is unlimited.

On October 28th, an ailing African Serval was rescued from deplorable conditions at the home of fifty-four-year-old Louis Pinot in the Westchester County town of Mahopac in upstate New York. According to the Westchester SPCA, the home was filled with feces, trash, and other assorted filth. (See Fox News 5, October 31, 2007, "Exotic Cat Saved from Squalid Home.")


Pinot has been charged with animal cruelty and the cat is expected to recover. Its ultimate fate remains unknown, however.

In the Saskatchewan town of Regina, a Savannah known as Kimba nosed his way out a patio door on August 31st and was AWOL for two months before he was corralled by a farmer sixty kilometers away in Bethune. Savannahs are a cross between African Servals and domestic cats. (See Cat Defender post of May 19, 2005 entitled "Savannahs: More Feline Cruelty Courtesy of the Capitalists and Bourgeoisie.")

"It was like an old reunion," his unidentified owner told the Leader-Post of Regina on November 1st. (See "Frantic Feline Search Ends Just Fine.") "We brought him in the house. He was ecstatic. He was as happy as we were."

Exotic cats and hybrids are also coveted by thieves. For instance, last summer in Lee County, Florida construction workers stole Sydney Williams' $10,000 Savannah known as Taz.

Mike Brock, a detective with the Lee County Sheriff's Department, intervened and was able to persuade the workers to return the cat. "I had to be real careful. I didn't want to spook anybody to the point where they (would) harm the animal," he told WVVA-TV of Bluefield, West Virginia, on November 5, 2007. (See "Cop Tracks Down Stolen $10,000 Cat.")

"I basically told them it would be in everybody's best interest if this cat was returned to the family safe and unharmed," he added. A few days later Taz was in fact returned and Williams in turn agreed not to press charges against the culprits, All totaled, Taz was away for eight days.

Several themes run concurrently throughout these stories. First of all, declawing is not only painful but barbaric. Perhaps more importantly, once outside a cat is pretty much helpless without its claws. It cannot defend itself, catch prey, or climb trees in order to escape predators.

More municipalities should follow the sterling example set by West Hollywood and other cities and outlaw this onerous practice. Moreover, veterinarians who perform onychectomies should be stripped of their licenses to practice veterinary medicine.

Secondly, wild cats belong in protected habitats as opposed to breeding farms and in living rooms. Contrary to what some people think, they are not inanimate objects to be manipulated at will by both breeders and consumers alike. (See Cat Defender post of February 19, 2007 entitled "Asheras Are the Designer Chats du Jour Despite the Cruelties Inflicted During Their Hybridization.")

Thirdly, there is not any way that the creation of hybrids can be either morally or humanely justified. The process is not only fraught with unspeakable cruelties and needless mortalities but it also adds to the existing surplus of cats. (See Cat Defender posts of April 13, 2007 and June 28, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Killing and Torturing Wild and Domestic Cats in Order to Create Toygers Is Not Going to Save Sumatran Tigers" and "Rural Alabama Man Makes a 'Killing' Forcibly Breeding Domestic Cats to Bobcats in Order to Create Pixie-Bobs.")

Finally, exotic and designer cats tend to be passing fads much like cats and dogs featured in motion pictures. Because they are trendy, many people covet them at first sight but once the novelty wears off they quickly grow tired of them and dump them at shelters.

Anybody wanting a cat should go to a shelter and save a life by adopting one. Individuals who desire cats with canine personalities, as many hybrids are said to possess, should simply adopt a dog.

Photos: KOMO-TV (Seattle African Serval), WCBS-TV (Gizmo), Fox News 5 (Mahopac African Serval), Don Healy of the Leader-Post (Kimba), and WVVA-TV (Taz).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Asheras Are the Designer Chats du Jour Despite the Cruelties Inflicted During Their Hybridization

"People who love beautiful pets will spend twelve-thousand pounds on a cat. People spend that much on jewelry or a big television."
-- Simon Brodie

Like the latest automobiles rolling off an assembly line in Detroit, the hybridization of the feline species continues unabated as breeders and geneticists pull out all the stops in a madcap race to create even more exotic breeds of cats. In their quest to stay ahead of the Joneses, the rich and the bourgeoisie are seemingly willing to pay almost any price in order to own one of these cats in spite of the patented cruelties and mortalities involved in their creation.

The latest such fad are Asheras. Allegedly created by interbreeding African Servals (Leptailurus serval), Asian Leopard Cats (Prionailurus bengalensis), and a "trade secret" domestic cat (Felis domesticus), Asheras have the spots of a leopard with contrasting stripes. Weighing in at between twenty-five and thirty pounds, they also have long legs and large pointed ears. (See photos above and below.)

Created over a three-year period by a team of geneticists at Lifestyle Pets of Los Angeles, the hybrids are described as intelligent, affectionate, even-tempered, and low-maintenance. Despite their abundance of wild cat genes, they also are advertised to be safe for households with children and more conventional pets. They will also eat commercial cat food.

There are, however, several key differences between them and Felis domesticus. First of all, they prefer to sleep in heated beds. Secondly, they are said to have canine personalities in that they greet their owners at the door, walk on leashes, and like to butt heads.

One thing that they are not is cheap. They are currently retailing for $22,000 in the United States and Canada and $27,000 on the Continent and elsewhere. There also is an additional $1,500 delivery fee in the United States plus applicable state and federal taxes. Installment plans are available for the cash-strapped.

Asheras also come in an hypoallergenic version that retails for $28,000. That is only to be expected in that it was after all Lifestyle Pets' founder Simon Brodie who was responsible for creating the world's first allergy-free cat back in 2006. (See Cat Defender posts of July 10, 2006 and October 10, 2006 entitled, respectively, "More Devilry from Scientific Community as California Company Creates World's First Hypoallergenic Cat" and "Dodgy Allerca and Dishonest CBS Join Forces to Market an Allergy-Free Cat Named Joshua to a Gullible Public.")

When he was head of Allerca Lifestyle Pets, Brodie reportedly sold hundreds of allergy-free cats for $10,000 apiece plus a number of franchises to the tune of $45,000 a pop. He sold Allerca in 2006 in order to concentrate on Lifestyle Pets but remains a consultant with his old firm.

All Asheras come with a Certificate of Authenticity which also includes an image of each cat's DNA. All of the cats are sterilized prior to sale in order to prevent buyers from going into business for themselves and thus eroding Lifestyle's profits.

They also are vaccinated, microchipped, and come with a one-year warranty. To better ensure that the warranties are seldom invoked, the cats are socialized by a behaviorist before they are sold and come with a year's worth of veterinary insurance, kitten food, and vinyl nail covers so as to protect buyers' furniture.

Despite their hefty price tags, Asheras are selling like hot cakes and there is a waiting list of nine to twelve months. Besides gold-plated Americans, the cats are said to be in demand with Russians, Ukrainians, the Chinese, Dutch, and Australians.

That is not surprising. The importation and breeding of wild cats is in itself big business and the mating of those cats to domestics is proving to be even more lucrative. (See Cat Defender posts of May 19, 2005 and June 28, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Savannahs: More Feline Cruelty Courtesy of the Capitalists and Bourgeoisie" and "Rural Alabama Man Makes a 'Killing' Forcibly Breeding Domestic Cats to Bobcats in Order to Create Pixie-Bobs.")

Nevertheless, the fact that there is beaucoup d'argent to be made from genetically manipulating cats does not invalidate the numerous objections that have been raised about this odious enterprise. First of all, the trapping and importation of wild cats should not be allowed under any circumstances.

These cats do not belong in cages at eugenics factories in America and should instead be allowed to live out their lives in their natural habitats. Although many of them are not endangered, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) should be expanded in order to protect them.

Since it is unnatural for a much larger wild cat to mate with a domestic cat, this necessitates the use of either artificial insemination or forced breeding. According to Lifestyle Pets, Asheras are conceived via the former method.

Perhaps more importantly, the entire designer pet industry is unregulated and therefore cloaked in secrecy. For instance, Brodie categorically refuses to disclose which breed of domestic cats he uses in order to create Asheras.

Judy Sugden of Eeyaas Cattery in Los Angeles will likewise only admit to using a so-called "Kashmir street cat" in order to create Toygers. (See Cat Defender post of April 13, 2007 entitled "Killing and Torturing Wild and Domestic Cats in Order to Create Toygers Is Not Going to Save Sumatran Tigers.")

Even more puzzling is the claim that Asheras, Toygers, and Savannahs have canine personalities. That does not seem to be a likely outcome from mating African Servals (see photo directly above) and Asian Leopard Cats (see photo below) with domestic cats.

Other critics are even far less charitable and instead insist that the creation of designer pets is a total fraud. Unfortunately, there is not any sure way of knowing what is actually going on until these breeding factories and laboratories are forced to allow legitimate animal rights groups to inspect their premises and that is not about to happen anytime soon.

The USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which is charged with enforcing the minimalist standards of the Animal Welfare Act, does not have an ounce of credibility, (See Cat Defender post of September 21, 2007 entitled "FDA Is Suppressing Research That Shows Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer in Mice, Rats, and Dogs.")

Since the creation of hybrids involves a considerable amount of experimentation, the miscarriages, birth defects, and death toll must be astronomical. Imperfect hybrids cannot be sold to the public and breeders are far too cheap to either house and feed them or to find alternative homes for them. Animal exploiters never have been known for their compassion.

Nonetheless, Brodie flatly denies the obvious. "Every kitten that has come out so far is (sic) a great kitten," he told the CBC's As It Happens on December 7, 2007. (See "Designer Cat.") "They all go into homes. We don't have rejects."

Since he so willingly lies about the number of cats that he has tortured and killed in his laboratories, it is not surprising that he is equally unconcerned about the plight of the tens of millions of homeless cats that are killed at shelters each year. "People (who buy Asheras) are looking for this specific type of cat," he told the CBC.

Sadly, individuals who shell out the big bucks for Asheras are every bit as callous as Brodie. "People have simply criticized the price," but not the morals, he added.

Earlier on October 29th, he told the Daily Mail, "People who love beautiful pets will spend twelve-thousand pounds on a cat." (See "A Four-Foot Leopard for Your Living Room -- If You've Got Twelve-Thousand Pounds in the Kitty.") "People spend that much on jewelry or a big television."

In making that morally lopsided comparison Brodie has exposed himself. It is quite clear that he, like all breeders, geneticists, vivisectors, and factory farmers, view cats and other animals as inanimate objects to be abused and genetically manipulated at will. People like him think no more of killing animals than they do of chopping up a stack of firewood.

An increasing number of exotic cats and hybrids also are winding up at shelters which not only taxes the resources of those facilities but also necessitates the founding of new rescue organizations. ( See forthcoming Cat Defender post of February 20, 2008 entitled "Exotic and Hybrid Cats, Perennial Objects of Exploitation and Abuse, Are Now Being Mutilated, Abandoned, and Stolen.")

Since Asheras have a life expectancy of twenty-five years, a good many of them are destined to end up at shelters despite their high price tags. Individuals capable of shelling out $25,000 for a cat are not going to think anymore about dumping them than people who take in strays. In fact, if the truth be told, the rich are usually far more callous than the poor.

Finally, Brodie is no stranger to either controversy or brushes with the legal authorities. The transplanted Englishman has a rather checkered past that is punctuated by all sorts of financial improprieties in addition to the systematic abuse of cats. (See San Diego Union-Tribune, October 25, 2006, "Franchised Felines? Allerca's Plans to Sell Hypoallergenic Animals, New Breed Met with Skepticism.")

Photos: Daily Mail (Asheras), Wikipedia (African Serval), and F. Spangenberg of Wikipedia (Asian Leopard Cat at Berliner Tierpark).

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saying Good-Bye to the Rat Race, Retired Forest Hills' Couple Hires a Taxi in Order to Transport Their Cats to Arizona

"Every state that we hit, people would say 'Are you the ones?' and we would say 'Yes, we are the ones'."
-- Bob Matas

Traveling with cats, whether on vacation or to a new home, can be a nightmare. Neither Greyhound nor Amtrak will take them and the airlines are not much more accommodating.

Some airlines will (or at least used to) allow them in the cabin but most of them require that they ride in the cargo hold. Some cat owners make the mistake of sedating their felines beforehand and this can sometimes be fatal.

In addition to being an extremely traumatic experience for the cats, some of them also have escaped from their cages while in the cargo hold never to be seen again. (See Cat Defender post of November 5, 2007 entitled "Port Authority Gives JFK's Long-Term Resident Felines the Boot and Rescue Groups Are Too Impotent to Save Them.")

Consequently, about the only way to move cats around is by auto. Foreign travel is, of course, out of the question not only for obvious reasons but because of strict quarantine rules as well. (See Cat Defender posts of May 17, 2007 and November 13, 2007 entitled, respectively, "North Carolina Shelter Plotting to Kill Cat That Survived Being Trapped for Thirty-Five Days in Cargo Hold of Ship from China" and "Simon, Hero of the Yangtze Incident, Is Remembered with a Wreath-Laying Ceremony in Ilford.")

For those who have access to an automobile the best solution is to drive. If not, professional pet transporters are available but they charge an arm and a leg. Failing that, the only remaining option is to hire a taxi which is exactly what Bob and Betty Matas elected to do back in April of last year when they relocated from Forest Hills to Sedona, Arizona with their two felines, Cleopatra and Pretty Face.

For their twenty-five-hundred-mile journey, the retired Queens couple hired New York City hack driver Douglas Guldeniz and his 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid SUV. The cats rode in separate cages in the back of the cab while a friend followed behind in a rented truck with the couple's possessions. (See photo above.)

The hiring of a taxi was necessitated by the petit fait that since the Matases are lifelong New Yorkers they had never either owned an automobile or had the need to learn to drive.

Guldinez agreed to take the job for a flat fee of $3,000 plus expenses but once the New York Daily News revealed what was afoot donations began to pour in and the trip most likely cost the couple little or nothing. For instance, Manhattan restaurateur Richie Herschenfeld gave both the Matases and Guldeniz $1,500 apiece.

The Matases and their cats arrived safe and sound in Sedona on April 16th. "It was pretty tiring, for my wife especially," Bob told Newsday on April 17th. (See "Couple Completes Twenty-Five-Hundred-Mile Cab Ride.") "We're happy where we are. We're happy and that's it."

He was a little put off, however, by all the media hoopla that he and his wife attracted along the way. "Every state that we hit, people would say 'Are you the ones?' and we would say 'Yes, we are the ones'," he related wearily.

Upon arrival they received a welcome worthy of conquering heroes. They were met by the mayor of Sedona, who presented them with a bag of souvenirs, and their real estate agent who handed over the keys to their new home.

Rather than moving in right away, they elected to decamp to a nearby hotel for a few days until their possessions from New York could be transferred to their new abode.

Asked before she left town if she was going to miss Queens, Betty told the New York Daily News on April 15th, "I feel a little sad, but I'm going to a beautiful place." (See "And They're Off! Queens Pair Cab It to Arizona Sunset.")

Bob concurred with his spouse. "We're going to miss New York and Forest Hills, but we're ready for Sedona. We want to be nice and warm."

Although it is not known how Cleopatra and Pretty Face feel about the move, cats are not only territorial by nature but generally do not like to have their daily routines interrupted. Nonetheless, since they are presumably indoor cats they should not be too adversely affected by the change in scenery. It would be an entirely different story is they were outdoor cats.

The Matases are to be commended for going to the extra trouble and expense in order to relocate their cats. Some owners would have stored them in the cargo hold of a jetliner and hoped for the best while others would have dumped them at a shelter to be killed.

As they have demonstrated, there are solutions to relocating cats. Cat owners must first of all recognize that their cats are valuable family members and then be willing to work out a safe and practicable way of resettling them. (See San Francisco Chronicle, September 18, 2007, "Moving? Congratulations. Moving with Pets? Condolences...a Few Tips to Make It Slightly Less Horrible" and Cat Defender post of February 5, 2008 entitled "When Bankers Become Crooks and Homeowners Get Greedy, Cats and Other Animals Pay the Ultimate Price.")

Granted, not everyone has the Matases' money, but solutions can be found in most instances if a person cares enough about his or her cats. In those rare instances where that is not feasible, owners should find alternative homes for them as opposed to either surrendering them at shelters or simply dumping them along the side of the road.

Although the devotion shown by the Matases to their cats may seem to be a bit extreme to some, it is not all that uncommon. For example, back in September Luigi and Donna DiMichele of Rome shelled out $14,000 in order to hire a private helicopter in order to transport their cat, Fufi, to their new home in Sardinia. (See photo above.)

Oddly enough, Fufi did not seem to mind the trip by chopper even though she is terrified to death of airplanes and ferries.

"Fufi means a lot to us, and investing this much in the trip was worth it," Donna told Ananova on October 1, 2007. (See "Couple Hires Helicopter for Cat.")

Photos: Kronen Zeitung of Wien (Matases and Guldeniz) and Ananova (Fufi).

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

When Bankers Become Crooks and Homeowners Get Greedy, Cats and Other Animals Pay the Ultimate Price

"In a sense, animal rights is not really about loving animals, but respecting them. We believe animals have basic rights: the right to life, the right to live their life (sic) free of human exploitation and abuse. So, conversely, we do not have the right to use animals for any real or perceived need, whether it be food, clothing, entertainment, medical issues."
-- Janine Motta, New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance

If there is a smidgen of truth in the old adage that whenever the rich get the sniffles the poor catch pneumonia, what then do the animals contract under analogous circumstances? In the case of the subprime loan scandal, the answer is increasingly either abandonment or death at a shelter.

"What we've always known is that when times are hard on people, they're hard for their pets," Stephen Zawistowski of the ASPCA told the San Francisco Examiner on January 29th. (See "Hidden Victims of Mortgage Crisis: Pets Abandoned by Their Owners.")

Although there are not any reliable statistics available, the number of cats and dogs left homeless by housing foreclosures must surely already number in the thousands. Smaller animals, such as lizards, turtles, and rabbits, are also being abandoned in droves.

Farm animals also are getting caught in the crunch. For instance, the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, New York has been forced to build additional barns in order to house abandoned horses and mules.

At present, the sanctuary has thirty large animals awaiting homes with additional horses and mules arriving on an almost daily basis. "This has blindsided us." Director Kathy Stevens told Albany's Times Union on January 14th. (See "Loan Crisis Leaving Pets Homeless.") In addition to foreclosures, Stevens also cites steep price hikes in both hay and petrol as contributing to the abandonment of farm animals.

Besides surrendering animals to shelters and sanctuaries, some callous owners are also dumping them alongside roads and locking them inside their foreclosed houses. By leaving their pets behind and trashing their former residences it is as if they are attempting to stick it to their creditors for giving them the heave-ho in the first place.

Real estate agents and property inspectors are therefore making some rather grisly discoveries. The Chicago Tribune, for example, cited the following egregious examples of animal abandonment and cruelty in a January 22nd article: three dogs and twenty birds found in a house in Lorain, Ohio; twenty-four horses on a ranch in Bixby, Oklahoma; sixty-three abandoned cats in Cincinnati; and, the corpses of twenty-one Great Danes locked inside a house in Bradford, Pennsylvania. (See "Dogs, Cats Latest Victims of Subprime Mortgage Mess.")

Although seven of the felines abandoned in Cincinnati have since died, a newly formed organization known as Foreclosure Cats has found homes for all but nineteen of the survivors. Those waiting to be adopted, such as Mickey, are meanwhile biding their time in foster homes.(See photo above.)

A few of them are still suffering from lingering maladies brought on by the squalid conditions in which they were forced to subsist but all of them are expected to recover in time. Moreover, they all have been tested, vaccinated, sterilized, and microchipped.

Since there are already so many of them, cats and dogs have been hit especially hard by the subprime loan scandal. "(Pets) are getting dumped all over," Traci Jennings of the Humane Society of Stanislaus County in northern California told the Examiner in the article cited supra. "Farmers are finding dogs dumped on their grazing grounds, while house cats are showing up in wild cat colonies."

Dumping a domestic cat is a particularly heartless deed. Often declawed, sterilized, obese, and elderly, these cats not only do not have any way of surviving on their own but are also sometimes shunned by their feral cousins.

Even in boom times cat owners have been seen nonchalantly dumping their companions outside old clothes bins at supermarkets. The only concession that they have been known to make to sentimentality is to wait until the day after Christmas in order to commit their dastardly deeds.

This reprehensible conduct certainly is not unique to Americans. When the Israelis pulled out of the Sinai in the early 1980s and Gaza in 2005 they left behind thousands of cats and dogs to fend for themselves. This was in spite of the fact that they were given new houses and hundreds of thousands of dollars by the United States. (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.")

It is a well established fact that most animals either trapped by Animal Control or turned over to shelters are systematically slaughtered even during the best of times. Now, with shelters overflowing, adoptions declining, and home sales sagging, the carnage is only going to increase.

Moreover, the worst is yet to come. According to David Olive of the Toronto Star, the foreclosure crisis is not expected to peak until sometime this summer and shelters will be flooded with the annual influx of feral kittens well before then.

None of these considerations have deterred the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) from recommending that pet owners caught in a bind surrender their charges to shelters. While readily admitting that most of these hapless animals will be killed, Stephanie Shain nonetheless told the Examiner, "But they'll be fed and have water and have a humane euthanization (sic), as opposed to spending the last days of their lives eating carpet or wallboard."

It is small wonder that the animals are treated so horribly when the HSUS indulges in such self-serving sophistry. There is nothing worse for either a cat or a dog than to wind up in the clutches of either the shelters or Animal Control! To their credit, even individuals who cruelly abandon animals are cognizant of that petit fait.

In a series of videos posted on its web site exposing the unspeakable cruelties and shameful abuses that cows and pigs are subjected to at slaughterhouses, the HSUS is only able to muster enough compassion and courage in order to condemn the abuses but not the killings. (See Washington Post articles of January 30th and January 31st entitled, respectively, "Video Reveals Violations of Law, Abuse of Cows at Slaughterhouse" and "Meat Company Fires Two Over Cruelty to Livestock.")

In both words and deeds, the HSUS is too much like the thoroughly disgraced PETA to have any real credibility. In a January 10th press release, the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) revealed that during 2006 PETA had a kill-rate of ninety-seven per cent at its Norfolk shelter.

In particular, of the 3,061 companion animals that it took in only twelve made it out alive. (See "PETA Killed Ninety-Seven Per Cent of 'Companion Animals' in 2006, According to VDACS.")

While it is certainly no lover of animals, CCF nonetheless does a good job of publicizing the fact that PETA has absolutely no interest in finding homes for cats and dogs and instead has always taken the easy and cheap way out by operating a killing factory. (See Cat Defender posts of January 29, 2007 and February 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in North Carolina Courtroom" and "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs.")

Since it is axiomatic that no animal ever comes out of a slaughterhouse alive, the best that can be said for the Humane Society's positions on both shelters and slaughterhouses is that they are consistent.

While there are no easy solutions for pet owners facing eviction, foreclosures usually take several months and this provides a window of opportunity for them to make alternative arrangements. Advertisements for new homes can be placed in newspapers and animals can sometimes be boarded on a temporary basis with friends and relatives.

Moreover, most landlords, with the notable exception of nursing home operators, usually allow renters to have pets. It is therefore conceivable that some pet owners are merely using their evictions as a convenient excuse in order to get rid of their cats and dogs. Or, perhaps they simply do not want them under foot in a cramped apartment.

The bottom line is that individuals need to realize that adopting a pet is a lifetime commitment. Cats, dogs, and other animals become intricate members of any household and just as it would be unthinkable to abandon a child the same holds true for abandoning a pet.

Once this intellectual nexus is made, abandonment ceases to be an option and all attention and resources can be focused on alternative solutions. The same logic should be applied to the slaughtering of cats and dogs at shelters.

So far, high adoption fees, forced sterilizations, and follow-up home visits have not had any measurable effect in reducing surrender rates at shelters. Besides, escalating adoption fees discourage many responsible individuals from adopting animals.

Perhaps, a better solution would be the enfranchisement of all animals. "In a sense, animal rights is not really about loving animals, but respecting them," Janine Motta of the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance told the Asbury Park Press on July 23, 2007. (See "Spreading the Word. New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance Focuses on Animal Rights and Legislation.")

"We believe animals have basic rights: the right to life, the right to live their life (sic) free of human exploitation and abuse," she added. "So, conversely, we do not have the right to use animals for any real or perceived need, whether it be food, clothing, entertainment, medical issues."

To that otherwise exemplary list, rights to housing, food, and veterinary care must be added. The empowerment of the animals will likewise require corresponding restrictions on both pet sales and ownership.

As detrimental as the housing crisis is, it is not the only economic factor impacting upon the lives of companion animals and their owners. For example, sharp increases in the cost of pet food, supplies, and veterinary care have necessitated the creation of pet food banks.

In Hartford, Connecticut, Lorie Reardon operates the Aid-A-Pet program which provides pet food and supplies to low-income pet owners. Operated out of the Charter Oak Health Center, it relies upon donations from the public in order to provide assistance to hundreds of individuals.

In some instances its assistance has enabled individuals to retain pets that they otherwise would have been forced to surrender. "Many folks don't have families. They only have pets," Reardon told the Hartford Courant on January 26th. (See "A Pet Owner's Lifeline.")

One family benefiting from the pet food bank is fifty-one-year-old Janice Comstock and her five cats, Lucky, Jessie Jane, Velvet, Chippy, and Tuxedo. (See photo above of her and Lucky with friend Angel Sanchez.)

Speaking of her feline companions, Comstock told the Courant, "They are right there when I come home. They love me unconditionally."

While housing construction may have bottomed out in most areas, it and commercial development are continuing unabated elsewhere. For example, in Hares Corner, Delaware thirty-five cats are being evicted by developers from their home in the woods alongside Du Pont Highway. (See photo above of one of them.)

Consequently, Faithful Friends is prevailing upon farmers in the area to take in the waifs. "What we need is five or six farmers to take four or five each," the nonprofit's Jane Pierantozzi told the News Journal of New Castle on January 29th. (See "Feral Cats Fall Prey to Development.")

With the bulldozers and the tree-killers set to begin work within a week, time is running out for the cats. "We don't normally move cats but this is a situation with no options," Pierantozzi added sang-froid.

The situation in Hares Corner and elsewhere demonstrates that the observation made by the ASPCA's Zawistowski is only half true. As far as cats and other animals are concerned, they always get the short end of the stick regardless of economic conditions.

Photos: Foreclosure Cats (Mickey), Rick Hartford of the Courant (Comstock with Lucky and Sanchez), and Emily Varisco of The News Journal (Hares Corner cat).

Friday, February 01, 2008

Cats Are Destined to Be Treated as Horribly as Lab Mice Now That Vivisectors Are Able to Clone Them with Altered Genes

"Cats have similar genes to those of humans. We can make genetically modified cats that can be used to develop new cures for genetic diseases."
-- Professor Kong Il-keun

Vivisectors in South Korea proudly announced in early December that they had become the first to clone cats with altered genes. This monstrous development clears the way for biomedical researchers to genetically modify cats at will, like lab mice, either to study human maladies or just for the money, prestige, and sadistic thrills that they derive from doing so.

Besides vivisectors, breeders of lab cats also will reap a bonanza from this development. These unfortunate animals, who already spend their entire lives in cages, will now be injected with all sorts of malignant genetic material in order to cause them to develop hideous diseases and grotesque deformities.

Their lives, like those of all laboratory animals, will be pure hell from womb to tomb. This is only the beginning of the horrors that H.G. Welles foresaw when he wrote in The Island of Doctor Moreau that the "study of nature makes a man at least as remorseless as nature."

Cats are already systematically manipulated, tortured and, ultimately, killed by vivisectors all over the world. They are used in biomedical research to study, inter alia, spinal cord injuries, strokes and heart disease, gangliosidosis, eye diseases such as glaucoma and amblyopia, AIDS, neurological disorders, diabetes, narcolepsy, and Alzheimer's.

The Koreans' scientific breakthrough along with the National Cancer Institute's decoding of the feline genome earlier last year are going to lead to the wholesale slaughter of additional millions of felines if these diabolical monsters are not stopped. (See Cat Defender post of November 5, 2007 entitled "Decoding the Feline Genome Provides Vivisectors with Thousands of New Excuses to Continue Torturing Cats in the Course of Their Bogus Research.")

Kong gave the game away when he told Memphis' Commercial Appeal on December 15th that "cats have similar genes to those of humans." (See "Glow-in-the-Dark Felines Aren't Just for Show.") "We can make genetically modified cats that can be used to develop new cures for genetic diseases."

Furthermore, he is quoted in the January 2nd edition of The Independent as saying, "The technology used to produce cloned cats with manipulated genes can be applied to clone animals suffering from the same diseases as humans." (See "Bizarre Experiments: Why Did They Do That?")

Vivisectors like to claim that cats, too, will indirectly benefit from their hideous experiments. In particular, they argue that their research will not only produce cures for feline diseases but also help to save endangered wild cats, both big and small.

That is pure rubbish. Even if new cures are incidentally discovered along the way only wealthy cat owners will be able to take advantage of them because of the prohibitively high fees charged by veterinarians. Moreover, wild cats can only be saved by preserving their habitats. (See Cat Defender post of January 28, 2008 entitled "Hopped Up on Vodka and Pot, Trio Taunted Tatiana Prior to Attacks That Led to Her Being Killed by Police.")

Cloned cats are, of course, nothing new. The first one, CC (shorthand for either "Copy Cat" or "Carbon Copy") was created at Texas A&M in 2003. (See Cat Defender posts of January 5, 2007 and October 16, 2006 entitled, respectively, "World's First Cloned Cat, CC, Finally Gives Birth to Three Healthy Kittens at the Age of Five" and "Unable to Turn a Profit, California Cat-Cloning Company Goes Out of Business.")

Other cats also have been genetically altered in order to make them allergy-free. (See Cat Defender posts of October 10, 2006 and July 10, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Dodgy Allerca and Dishonest CBS Join Forces to Market an Allergy-Free Cat Named Joshua to a Gullible Public" and "More Devilry from Scientific Community as California Company Creates World's First Hypoallergenic Cat.")

In order to test their revolutionary theory, Professor Kong and his colleagues at Gyeongsang National University in Jinju took a phosphorescent protein known as RFP and added it to skin cells removed from a mother cat. The skin cells were then transplanted to the cat's ovum before it was in turn transferred to a donor cat.

During January and February of 2007 either three or four Turkish Angora cats were born via cesarean section. (See photo at the top of the page.) News reports differ as to both the exact number of kittens born and surrogate mothers used.

Anyway, either one or two of the kittens died either during birth or shortly thereafter. Of the two kittens that survived, at least one of them glows red when viewed under ultraviolet light. In the photo immediately above, the cat on the left has been genetically altered while the one on the right is described by the researchers as a "normal cloned cat."

The kittens were later killed by Kong and his team so that necropsies could be performed on them. Most likely the mother cats and surrogate mothers were also killed. Gratitude and compassion have never been part of the thought process of vivisectors.

There is some disagreement as to why the vivisectors chose to phosphoresce cats in order to prove their theory. Writing in The Independent, Simon Usborne states that glow cats are of no scientific value and that their creation was merely a "marketing exercise designed to draw attention to the (Korean) team's work."

That is not totally accurate, however. Writing in the January 17th edition of Munchen's Focus, Stefanie Reiffert points out that the use of fluorescent proteins as markers for genetic changes within cells has been standard practice in molecular biology for more than a decade. (See "Warum Schweine leuchten.")

For instance, back in 2003 researchers at the Institut fur Molekulare Tierzucht und Haustiergenetik at Ludwig Maximilians Universitat in Munchen inserted a green fluorescent protein known as GFP into pigs for that very purpose. "Es ist einfach nachzuweisen. Wir konnten durch die Betrachtung der Gewebe schnell feststellen, ob das Gen aktiv war," the institute's Eckhard Wolf told Focus.

Oliver Griesbeck of the Max Planck Institut fur Neurobiologie in Martinsried, Bayern also points out that fluorescent proteins enable researchers to study changes in both nerve cells and the signaling pathways of cells.

Green fluorescent proteins are derived from jellyfish whereas red ones come from sea anemones and corals. Not only are red dyes easier to spot in various tissues and organs, but researchers like to work with a rainbow of colors. "Es hilft naturlich, mehrere Farben zu haben, wenn man verschiedene Zelltypen markieren will," Griesbeck told Focus in the article cited supra.

The phosphorescing of animals gained momentum following the pioneering work of Ludwig Maximilians Universitat and in 2006 researchers in Taiwan also created green pigs. Not about to be outdone, their rivals on the mainland quickly followed suit with their own fluorescent pigs in December of the same year.

Early last month, Chinese scientists announced that one of their transgenic pigs had given birth to two fluorescent piglets after she was mated with an ordinary pig. (See photo above.) Since fluorescent genes are difficult to pass down, the sow's nine other offspring do not glow in the dark.

"The mouths, trotters, and tongues of the two piglets glow green under ultraviolet light, which indicates the technology to breed transgenic pigs via cell nuclear transfer is mature," Professor Liu Zhonghua of Northeast Agricultural University in Harbin told Reuters on January 8th. (See "China Rings Out Year of Fluorescent Green Pigs.")

This is another horrible development for pigs. Already subjected to a million horrors and abuses on factory farms, this research will lead to even more of these highly intelligent animals being raised and slaughtered for xenotransplantation. "This technology promises to breed excellent transgenic pigs and even raise special pigs to provide organs for human transplant operations in the future," Liu added.

Like cloned mammals, transgenic animals are certainly nothing new. For example, pigs previously have been genetically modified to reduce the amount of excrement that they produce. Cows have been genetically altered to protect them from inflammation in their udders and research is also ongoing to genetically reduce both the amount of excrement and methane gas that they produce.

In Canada, salmon have been genetically modified so as to make them grow faster. Goats are being genetically modified so as to produce in their milk, inter alia, blood clotting proteins for hemophiliacs and vaccines to counteract the deadly toxins used in biological and chemical warfare. Monkeys are likewise being injected with anthrax in an effort to develop antibodies for that disease. (See Washington Post, January 14, 2008, "Trying to Get Ahead of the Herd.")

These are only a few of the thousands of inhumanities that scientists, capitalists, and militarists have in store for the animals of this world. In man's quest for dominion over all of nature, nothing is sacred anymore.

Despite the rather obvious destruction of the planet that is now occurring, the hoi polloi stubbornly remain fervent believers in the benevolence of both science and capitalism. This is true even as an ever increasing number of them can no longer afford either adequate food, housing, or medical care, let alone even to protect their privacy and basic civil rights.

Plus, the air is filthy, the water polluted, and the food supply for both humans and animals has become contaminated. (See BBC, January 19, 2008, "Medicinal Plants Facing Threat" and January 14, 2008 press release from Physicians for a National Health Program entitled "Doctors Give Massachusetts Health Reform a Failing Grade -- Poor Early Outcomes Raise Red Flags. Only Private Insurers Profit.")

Photos: Gyeongsang National University (Angoras and glow cat) and China Daily (fluorescent pigs).