Orange County Sheriff's Department Is Accused of Killing a Cat with a Taser at the Theo Lacy Jail
If found to be true, the tasering of a cat would be "an extremely disgusting and despicable act."
-- Damon Micalizzi, Orange County Sheriff's Department
The patently cruel and inhumane use of Tasers on cats, recently championed by Ohio politician E.C. "Betty" Blair, already has led to at least one fatality. That death occurred earlier this month at the Theo Lacy Jail in Orange, California, where an unidentified member of the county Sheriff's Department is suspected of killing a cat with a Taser. (See photo above of the facility.)
Acting upon a tip from an unidentified inmate, the body of a dead cat was retrieved from an area between security fences along the outer perimeter of the eleven-acre facility on April 14th. Since the incident is alleged to have happened a fortnight earlier, prison officials are not even certain if the corpse belongs to the cat that was allegedly tasered.
Moreover, a necropsy performed by Orange County Animal Care Services on April 16th failed to reveal either the cause or time of death. Likewise, the results of a second necropsy performed last week by an unidentified forensic pathologist in Irvine were inconclusive. The Sheriff's Department nonetheless will forward the results of both examinations to an internal committee studying the matter. (See The Mercury News, April 26, 2008, "Exam Doesn't Show Whether Orange County Jailers Killed Cat.")
"This is not being taken lightly," John McDonald, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, told the Los Angeles Times on April 16th. (See "Death of Cat at Orange County Jail Is Being Probed.") "This is a pretty serious matter."
McDonald's colleague, Damon Micalizzi, was even blunter in his assessment of the deplorable situation. If found to be true, the tasering of a cat would be "an extremely disgusting and despicable act," he told KNBC-TV of Los Angeles on April 16th. (See "Necropsy Uncertain After Cat Found Dead at Theo Lacy Jail.")
Penal institutions always have been a favorite dumping ground for uncaring individuals looking to quickly dispose of unwanted cats. Enlightened wardens at, inter alia, the Solano County Sheriff's Claybank Sentenced Detention Center west of San Francisco, the Blaine Street Jail in Santa Cruz, and Turney Center Industrial Prison and Farm in Only, Tennessee, have inaugurated humane programs that have greatly benefited both felines and inmates alike. (See Cat Defender posts of October 27, 2005 and November 2, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Inmates at Women's Prisons in California Save Lives by Fostering Feral Kittens" and "Three-Legged, Bobtailed Cat Named Opie Melts the Hearts of Hardened Criminals at Rural Tennessee Prison.")
Other institutions, such as the Roswell Correctional Center in Hagerman, New Mexico, Avenal State Prison near Fresno, and the Southeast State Correctional Facility in Windsor, Vermont, have shot, starved to death, and summarily evicted felines that have taken up residence within their compounds. (See Cat Defender posts of March 4, 2008, September 29, 2006, and February 1, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Roswell Prison Guns Down Fifteen to Twenty Cats with the Blessings of the Animal Welfare Alliance," "Avenal State Prison Reverts to Its Old Ailurophobic Ways by Scrapping TNR Program and Cutting Off Cats' Food Supply," and "Vermont Prison Giving Felines the Boot Despite Opposition from Female Inmates.")
Although it is not known how many cats call the Theo Lacy Jail home or, more importantly, how they are otherwise treated, it appears that the tasering of the cat was a random act of violence committed by a rogue deputy. There certainly is not anything in press reports to suggest that this is standard departmental policy.
Equally disturbing are reports in the Velvet Coffin that portray the facility, which houses more than three-thousand minimum and maximum security felons, as an out of control hellhole where deputies spend the bulk of their time on duty sleeping, watching the idiot box, reading newspapers, playing video games, and gassing on their mobile phones. This gross abdication of duty has in turn led to the creation of a class of so-called shot-callers within the inmate population who enforce their own distinctive brand of jailhouse justice.
In particular, there is an ongoing grand jury investigation into the October 2006 stomping to death of inmate John Derek Chamberlain. Preliminary reports indicate that deputies stood idly by as shot-callers took turns beating, sodomizing, and urinating on him.
Another investigation is underway into the April 1st tasering death of thirty-five-year-old Jason Jesus Gomez at the Intake Release Center in nearby Santa Ana.
One more bit of telling evidence is the deputies' reported fondness for the television show Cops which has a nasty habit of glorifying the use of Tasers. In particular, deputy Jason Chapluk testified last August that his colleagues have a special affinity for an episode entitled "Tazed and Confused."
Against such a backdrop it is not surprising that overzealous rogue deputies at the forty-eight-year-old facility would be tempted to try out their new toys on defenseless cats. More to the point, their behavior toward both cats and inmates is nothing short of criminal and county officials should take the bull by the horns and clean house from top to bottom.
No one should hold his or her breath, however. The problems at Theo Lacy are long-term and systemic. They also highlight the barbaric and idiotic nature of Blair's proposal to taser cats as a prelude to sterilizing them. (See mug shot above.)
"We can taser them. Legally, although we don't have the authority to shoot them, you could taser them," is what she proposed to her fellow Lorain County commissioners on March 27th. (See Cat Defender post of April 8, 2008 entitled "Ohio Politician Proposes Adding Cats to the Growing List of Pigs, Other Animals, and Humans Killed by Tasers.")
According to Amnesty International, around three-hundred individuals have died in the United States during the past six and one-half years after they were tasered by police officers. It is not known, however, how many cats, dogs, and other animals have been killed by these deadly devices.
There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest, however, that both larger animals and people have a better chance of surviving being tasered than do their opposites. For instance, on April 9th former Minnesota Vikings' great Carl Eller not only survived being repeatedly tasered by police in Minneapolis, but he was not even fazed by the devices. (See photo on the right.) Although he is now sixty-six-years-old and was allegedly drunk at the time, his two-hundred-seventy pounds tacked on to a six-foot, eight-inch frame apparently made him impervious to the powerful electrical shocks administered by arresting officers.
The outcome quite often is far different for smaller individuals and, especially, cats. (See Pioneer Press, April 11, 2008, "Ex-Minnesota Viking Carl Eller Faces Assault, Threat Charges in Incident with Cops.")
The number of pigs and other animals killed and injured during the developmental stage as well as by ongoing safety trials is another reason for outlawing these devices. Unfortunately, the horrific crimes of vivisectors are not taken seriously in America.
For example, in addition to the millions of animals sacrificed each year in medical research, millions more are tortured, mutilated, and killed by drug companies, chemical manufacturers, and makers of consumer products, such as cosmetics, sunscreens, etc. Even more startling, the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) has approved only four out of one-hundred-eighty-five alternative testing methods submitted to it since its creation by Congress ten years ago.
By contrast, the European Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) has approved thirty-four alternatives to animal testing since its inception in 1991 and has an additional one-hundred-seventy under consideration.
"We were thrilled when the legislation was passed, "Sara Amundson, formerly of the Doris Day Animal League, told the Washington Post on April 12th. (See "Federal Panel Fails to Prevent Vicious Testing on Animals.") "It's shocking to look back and see how little we have accomplished."
The same rationale applies in spades to the nascent campaign to get Tasers out of the hands of both cops and private citizens. Only an across-the-board ban will put an end to these totally illegal and barbaric street corner electrocutions of humans, cats, and dogs as well as the senseless maiming and killing of thousands of barnyard and laboratory animals.
Even the Chinese, long excoriated for their merciless abuse and exploitation of the animals, are moving ahead with plans to reduce the number of laboratory animals that they sacrifice each year. In particular, researchers in Taipei are busy putting the final touches on an innovative computerized program that uses colored algorithms in order to digitally reconstruct guinea pigs.
Through the use of, inter alia, sectional images, physical data, and biological characteristics, the computerized model is thus able to simulate how new drugs would affect live guinea pigs. (See The China Post, April 20, 2008, "'3D Virtual Guinea Pig' to Be Used for Drug Development.")
Photos: Orange County Sheriff's Department (Theo Lacy Jail), Lorain County (Blair), and Getty Images (Eller).