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

Cat Defender

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

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Collars Turn into Death Traps for Trooper and Que but Both Are Rescued at the Eleventh Hour

"There was no way we were going to let this cat die with a collar around its neck like that."
-- Tammy Coleman of Fayette Friends of Animals

There are not any foolproof methods of safeguarding cats from either getting lost or being preyed upon by cat-haters. Even usually reliable collars can be quickly transformed into death snares if they are either used improperly or neglected for long periods of time.

Kittens, as everyone knows, grow into cats just as infants grow into adults. Likewise, just as a pair of baby shoes would be totally unsuitable for an adult, a collar wound tightly around the neck of a kitten would need to be loosed as the cat matures.

Despite the simplicity of that equation, it apparently was beyond the intellectual grasp of an unidentified elderly woman in Uniontown, Pennsylvania who fastened a collar around the neck of a female tuxedo kitten and never bothered to loosen it as she grew into an adult. Predictably, the collar became embedded in the skin and infected the helpless cat's neck.

That was the disturbing sight that greeted local animal shelter workers on March 26th when they went to remove an unspecified number of cats from the woman's residence on Derrick Avenue. Since the authorities and media are silent on the issue, it does not appear that the woman has been charged with either animal cruelty or hoarding.

With the local shelter being too cheap to provide the cat with the emergency surgery that it so desperately needed, she was fobbed off onto Fayette Friends of Animals in nearby Menallen who arranged for Tanya Fronczek of Rolling Hills Veterinary Clinic in Smock to surgically remove the collar. The cat, dubbed Trooper because of her fighting spirit, has since made a complete recovery and now has a new home. (See photo above.)

"There was no way we were going to let this cat die with a collar around its neck like that," Tammy Coleman of Fayette told The Herald Standard of Uniontown on March 28th. (See "Cat Recovering after Undergoing 'Collar' Surgery.") "She's a happy little cat, purring and being all sweet and lovable."

Last December, a brown-colored stray named Que from Queens, Nova Scotia found himself in even direr straits than little Trooper. In an effort to get out of his collar, his right front paw became so entangled in the device and it lodged in an upright position at the side of his head. This not only forced him to hobble around on three legs but the collar subsequently grew into his "armpit."

Fortunately for him, he eventually wended his way to the barn of a conscientious farmer in the Western Head section of the municipality who immediately contacted Doris Taylor of the Queens SPCA. By that time, however, his "armpit" had become infected and he smelled to high heaven as a consequence of the rotting flesh.

Following a series of successful operations, seventy stitches, and an assortment of antibiotics, Que is said to be "living the good life" and "spoiled to the hilt." (See photo below.)

From the extent of his injuries, Taylor estimates that Que's paw had been ensnared in his collar for at least six or seven months before he was rescued. Although she has been fostering the cat at her house while he recovered, she is now hoping to find him a good home.

"This little guy is really something," she told The Chronicle Herald of Halifax on January 29th. (See "Que, the Wonder Cat, Needs a Loving Home.") "He's had a long, hard road, but he's just the nicest cat."

Working as a volunteer constable with the SPCA is an emotional roller coaster but being able to help cats like Que makes it all worthwhile for Taylor. "There are so many bad times that I go through, and then something always happens and turns it around and you say: this is why I'm here. And Que, he's the one who makes the difference," she told The Chronicle Herald in the article cited supra.

There are several important lessons to be learned from the hellish experiences of Trooper and Que. First of all, collars should be checked every few days or so in order to make sure not only that they are functioning properly but also that they are not irritating the skin on a cat's neck. They also should be removed periodically and the fur underneath and around them examined and brushed.

Quite obviously, any person who would be so derelict in her duties as to place a kitten in a collar and then neglect to adjust it does not have any business owning a cat in the first place. Moreover, individuals who cruelly insist upon abandoning cats should at least have the bon sens to remove their collars beforehand so as to avoid a repeat performance of what Que was forced to endure.

Breakaway collars are another option but their efficacy in reuniting lost cats with their owners is severely compromised by their design.

Despite the travails of Trooper and Que, which were precipitated by their owners' gross negligence, there is much to be said in favor of collars. Unlike microchips, they are noninvasive devices that do save lives. (See Cat Defender post of August 30, 2006 entitled "Collar Saves a Cat Named Turbo from Extermination After He Is Illegally Trapped by Bird-Loving Psychopaths.")

On the negative side, they can come off by themselves or be removed by their wearers, thieves, vivisectors, fur traffickers, and ailurophobes of all genre. Wound too tightly, they also can throttle cats. (See Cat Defender post of January 13, 2006 entitled "Montana Firefighters Rescue 'Lucky' Calico Cat Who Was Caged and Purposefully Thrown into an Icy River.")

In Scotland, parliamentarians are considering outlawing the sale of a different feline nemesis: collars that deliver volts of electricity to the neck. Considered to be cruel and inhumane by both the British Veterinary Association and the Scottish SPCA, individuals who train police dogs voluntarily stopped using the devices in 2000.

Collars which deliver bursts of water and ultrasonic sounds apparently will not be affected by this legislation. (See BBC, September 7, 2007, "Electric Shock Collar Ban Plans.")

As popular as they may be, implanted microchips are even more problematical. Like collars, they offer absolutely no protection against either accidents or the evil deeds of cat-haters. More importantly, they must be read by scanners which are for the most part available only at shelters. (See Cat Defender posts of May 25, 2006 and June 12, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats" and "Given Up for Dead, Sneakers Is Reunited with His Owner After Having Gone AWOL Ten Years Ago.")

Even shelters equipped with scanners do not always do a thorough job of looking for chips. This is because the devices have a tendency to move around once implanted and therefore are not always easy to locate. The fact that shelters are au fond primarily glorified slaughterhouses no doubt also figures into the equation.

Some shelters also have a policy of only scanning for microchips at the last minute before they administer lethal doses of sodium pentobarbital. At the SPCA's facility in Lakeland, Florida, par exemple, cats are anesthetized with Ketamine, their cages covered, and their death warrants signed long before they even are scanned for microchips. (See Cat Defender post of May 11, 2006 entitled "Mass Murderers at SPCA Are Operating an Auschwitz for Cats and Dogs in Lakeland, Florida.")

It seems quite clear that shelters would scan all animals immediately upon arrival if saving lives by reuniting them with their aggrieved owners was a top priority. The fact that they are not is prima facie evidence that most shelters are pursuing an altogether different agenda.

They also are grossly incompetent. Earlier this month, Jacquelyn Bruno of Mobile, Alabama tragically discovered firsthand just how flawed the entire microchip process is when the local animal shelter mistakenly killed her cat, Hello.

Although the shelter is required by law to hold all impounded animals for five business days before killing them, Hello lasted less than sixty-minutes in the hands of the knackers. Moreover, it is not clear from press reports if the shelter even scanned the unfortunate cat.

"What they're doing is just scary to me," Bruno later confessed to Fox-10 of Mobile on May 14th. (See "Cat's Microchip Didn't Save It from Being Euthanized.")

Rubbing salt on the wound, the shelter turned around and gave Bruno a new microchipped cat but the chip fell out of the animal soon after it was adopted!

The reason that the butchers got their hands on Hello in the first place is, sadly, an all-too-familiar one. Falsely claiming to be the cat's rightful owner, an unidentified cat-hating neighbor of Bruno's trapped and surrendered the cat to the shelter with the explicit purpose of having it killed. (See Cat Defender posts of March 9, 2007 and June 5, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Long Island Serial Cat Killer Guilty of Only Disorderly Conduct, Corrupt Court Rules" and "RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated.")

Perhaps even more important than their limitations, research has recently surfaced which shows that there are serious health concerns associated with implanted microchips. (See Cat Defender post of September 21, 2007 entitled "FDA Is Suppressing Research That Shows Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer in Mice, Rats, and Dogs.")

In spite of this ominous development, Pet Place last week wholeheartedly endorsed the microchipping of cats. (See "The Irreverent Vet Speaks Out on 'Do Microchips Cause Cancer in Cats?'") That disgraceful sort of shekel chasing is akin to MDs hustling flu shots even though there is precious little evidence to support their efficacy.

Moreover, the dissemination of bogus veterinary advice is extremely profitable. For instance, millions of cats and dogs have been microchipped worldwide and veterinarians also make out like bandits by administering worthless and often harmful inoculations that sometimes result in Vaccine Associated Sarcomas (VAS).

Confronted with the obvious limitations presented by both collars and microchips some cat owners are electing to imprison their companions indoors. Despite being patently cruel and inhumane, such a policy also is detrimental to their health and well-being. (See Cat Defender posts of August 22, 2007 and October 19, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Indoor Cats Are Dying from Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Various Toxins in the Home" and "Smokers Are Killing Their Cats, Dogs, Birds, and Infants by Continuing to Light Up in Their Presence.")

The ideal solution would be to live in a neighborhood that is free of all feline predators, both human and animal. That would allow cats not only to have their liberty but also to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air as well.

If that is not feasible, a fenced-in yard is the next best alternative. It is not cheap but specially designed cat fencing is now available and electrical wiring can be installed on the other side in order to keep out such voracious feline predators as fishers, coyotes, and raccoons.

Some individuals even have reported success in training their cats to walk on leashes and to come when called.

Photos: The Herald Standard (Trooper) and Renee Stevens of The Chronicle Herald (Que).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Strange Bedfellows: Colorado Cat Named Gizmo and a Turtle Named Shelly Become the Best of Friends

"People must have renounced...all natural intelligence to dare to advance that animals are but animated machines...It appears to me, besides, that (such people) can never have observed with attention the character of animals not to have distinguished among them the different voices of need, suffering, joy, pain, love, anger, and all their affections. It would be very strange that they should express so well what they could not feel."
-- Voltaire

No one ever has accused cats of being cosmopolitans. Au contraire, they are primarily loners who stick to their own turf. On those rare occasions when the mood to be sociable strikes them it is usually in the company of either other cats or their caretakers that they choose to while away the hours.

Circumstances and upbringing occasionally, however, thrust even the most standoffish felines into some rather unexpected friendships with the members of other species. Nevertheless, the bond that has developed between a light-brown-colored tomcat named Gizmo and a turtle named Shelly at the Evans, Colorado home of Marisa Barton is, to say the least, quite extraordinary. (See photo above.)

"I kinda think they like each other. They like to cuddle," Barton told KUSA-TV of Fort Collins on April 5th. (See "A Cat and a Turtle Become More Than Friends.") "We call them the odd couple."

At first, Shelly was afraid of Gizmo but within a couple of months they, perhaps out of loneliness, had become best friends. "He doesn't have a girlfriend and Shelly doesn't have another turtle," Barton explained.

Perhaps even more unusual was the adoption of an abandoned kitten named Cassie by a crow named Moses at the North Attleboro, Massachusetts home of Wallace and Ann Collito back in 1999. (See photo below.)

According to the Collitoes, Moses not only procured food for Cassie but also kept her out of the road as well. (See YouTube videos entitled "Can Cat and Crow Be Friends?" and "Crow and Kitten Are Friends.")

Almost as unprecedented is the friendship that has developed between a male cat named Pussy, a magpie named Maggy, and a bird simply called Yellow Bird on the farm of Barney Smart and Adele Crofskey in Waitara, New Zealand. (See photo below.)

Smart, an avid hunter, found Maggy in one of his possum traps when she was just a baby and subsequently hand-raised her. "I don't think she knows that she's a magpie," he told the Taranaki Daily News on May 19th. (See "Talking Magpie Tops Pecking Order as Cat Befriends Birds.")

The unlikely trio play and sleep together, like Gizmo and Shelly, but go their separate ways at mealtimes. Crofskey attributes Pussy's tolerance for his feathered friends to a combination of laziness and his daily fare of fresh rabbit meat shot by Smart.

"...Pussy's never been much of a hunter or he would have eaten Yellow Bird," she told the Taranaki Daily News in the article cited supra.

In a small village outside Amman, Jordan, an unnamed orange cat has taken in five baby chickens that were orphaned after a dog killed their mother. (See photo at the bottom of the page.)

The cat, who has since given birth to three kittens, nonetheless continues to care for the chickens. (See Waleg.com of Tunisia, April 4, 2008, "Cat Caring for Five Orphaned Chicks.")

Another interesting bond is the one that occasionally develops between cats and deer. Back in 2006, a dying cat named Sammy from Billingham, Washington was comforted during his final days by a deer. (See Cat Defender post of January 16, 2007 entitled "Dying of Kidney Failure, Nine-Year-Old Cat Named Sammy Is Shown Compassion by an Unexpected Friend.")

In Colorado Springs, a black an white moggy named Lucy actually seeks out the society of a group of deer. (See Cat Defender post of April 4, 2007 entitled "Colorado Springs Cat named Lucy Confounds Her Owners by Taking Up with a Herd of Deer.")

Cats and dogs, although most often antagonists, sometimes can become such close friends that the bond extends beyond the grave. That was the case with a white cat named Arthur from Wigan in Manchester and a Lancashire Heeler named Oscar.

When Arthur died in January, Oscar watched his guardian, Robert Bell, bury the cat in the yard. During the night he slipped out through the unlocked cat flap, dug up Arthur's corpse, and dragged it back into the house.

Bell discovered the duo snuggled up as usual the next morning in the bed that they had shared for so long. (See Cat Defender post of January 18, 2008 entitled "Heartbroken Lancashire Heeler Named Oscar Digs Up and Retrieves the Corpse of His Feline Playmate, Arthur.")

In Amesbury, Massachusetts, a blind female box-terrier named Aspen belonging to Diane and Les Parker was left distraught after Yodi, a tomcat, disappeared over Labor Day weekend last year.

For ten years Yodi had served not only as Aspen's eyes, but also as her best friend. (See The Daily News of Newburyport, October 3, 2007 entitled "Blind Dog's Cat Friend, Guide Is Missing.")

In these types of cross-species bonding, dogs can be equally caring for cats. For instance, in Rose Valley, Washington, a three-year-old dachshund named Emma adopted five feral kittens in 2006. (See Cat Defender post of July 17, 2006 entitled "Dachshund Named Emma Adopts Quintet of Feral Kittens That Her Mistress Cruelly Stole from Their Mother.")

In Luton, England, a fearsome nineteen-month-old Rottweiler named Elsa adopted an abandoned kitten in 2005. (See Cat Defender post of October 15, 2005 entitled "Elsa, a Rottweiler Feared in the 'Hood, Shows Her Soft Spot by Adopting an Abandoned Kitten.")

At the White River Humane Society in Bedford, Indiana, a golden retriever named Rosie also has adopted a kitten. (See The Times-Mail of Bedford, June 6, 2006, "Retriever, Kitten Comprise Odd Couple; Strays Develop Bond Inside Animal Shelter.")

Although most of these relationships can be chalked up to either the nurturing instinct or special circumstances, that clearly is not the entire story. In some cases, there is clearly evidence of cross-species friendship and even perhaps love.

After all, there really is not much difference between men and animals except for the fact that the latter are less destructive and considerably more honest. "People must have renounced...all natural intelligence to dare to advance that animals are but animated machines," Voltaire said in response to the sottise put forward by the Cartesians and others. "It appears to me, besides, that (such people) can never have observed with attention the character of animals not to have distinguished among them the different voices of need, suffering, joy, pain, love, anger, and all their affections. It would be very strange that they should express so well what they could not feel."

Photos: KUSA-TV (Gizmo and Shelly), Moggies (Cassie and Moses), Mark Dwyer of the Taranaki Daily News (Pussy, Maggy, and Yellow Bird), and Waleg.com (cat with chicks).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Malice Aforethought: An Upstate New York Cat Is Saved from a Watery Grave by a Dead Tree and a Passerby; a New Hampshire Cat Is Not Nearly So Fortunate

"They left it there for the tide to come in and drown it. It was a horrible way to die, to wait for the waves to come in. It was imprisoned by the rocks on all four sides."
-- Animal Control officer Peter MacKinnon
When it comes to cats, the brutal murders and sickening acts of unspeakable cruelty never end. If it is not bird and wildlife advocates with their slanders, libels, and fiendish plots to do in the species, it is the white-coated men and women of science with their worthless experiments.

In addition to organized and well-financed ailurophobes, there are legions of freelance evildoers who strike like vipers in the grass when no one is looking. A good case in point is the individual who weighted down a gray mother cat in a sack and dumped her into the West Branch of Cayuga Inlet Creek in the upstate New York community of Newfield on May 5th.

Occasionally the angels intervene in the affairs of cats in order to undo some of Satan's work and this, fortunately, was one of those times. The first act of deliverance came when the sack lodged in a dead tree instead of going directly into the drink.

The second godsend came in the form on an unidentified eagle-eyed motorist who noticed that something was moving inside the sack. The driver then climbed down the slope, freed the cat, and took it to the Tompkins County SPCA.

The American Shorthair apparently did not sustain any serious injuries during her encounter with the Grim Reaper but the emotional scars will last her a lifetime. (See photo above.)

Her would-be tomb was constructed out of either a cushion cover or a pillowcase and was weighted down with a brick. (See photo below.) Unfortunately, SPCA investigators so far have not been able to locate either her kittens or the perpetrator of this heinous crime.

"I don't know what drives people to kill an animal when there is a place for them in their community," Abigail Smith of the SPCA told the Ithaca Journal on May 8th. (See "Lucky Cat Caught in Newfield Tree, Saved from Intentional Drowning.")

The Newfield cat's narrow escape is almost identical to the experience had by a cat named Lucky that was imprisoned in a cage with a sixteen-pound rock and then tossed into the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Montana on December 27, 2005.

The gods were on her side also in that she landed on the ice as opposed to in the river. A passerby spotted her and she was subsequently rescued by the Missoula Fire Department. (See Cat Defender post of January 13, 2006 entitled "Montana Firefighters Rescue "Lucky" Calico Cat Who Was Caged and Purposefully Thrown into an Icy River.")

Even before her owner attempted to snuff out her life, she had been terribly abused. Starved to the point where she was little more than skin and bones, it is a wonder that she did not die from either a lack of oxygen or infection in that her collar was fastened so tightly that it had worn away the fur from around her tiny neck.

Her abrupt change of fortune continued when she was adopted by her rescuer, firefighter Josh Macrow. (See photo below.) "It's the sweetest cat. It sits on your shoulder when you drive down the road and it curled up with my black labs this morning," he told The Missoulian.

As far as it is known, no arrest was ever made in the case.

Lucky and the Newfield cat are, sadly, exceptions to the rule. Most cats do not have the resources in order to survive direct assaults upon their lives and the gods cannot always be depended upon to intervene on the side of the innocent.

In Hampton, New Hampshire, for instance, an obese, ten-year-old dark-gray domestic cat was sealed up inside a black Spalding gym bag along with forty to fifty pounds of rocks on May 12th and left on the beach. Once the tide came in the bag became submerged in four to six feet of water. The helpless cat's tiny lungs filled with salt water and she died.

A beachcomber made the grisly discovery the next morning and called Animal Control officer Peter MacKinnon. "I was horrified," he told the Portsmouth Herald on May 14th. (See "Cat Found Dead in Rock-Filled Bag on Beach.") "I deal with live and dead animals all the time. I never saw anything like it."

As was the case with Lucky, this cat had been improperly cared for even before it was murdered. In addition to pinpointing the cause of the cat's death, a necropsy revealed that it also suffered from heart disease.

That is not surprising in that it weighed in excess of twenty pounds at the time of its death. Most likely it also had been sterilized. (See Cat Defender post of August 22, 2007 entitled "Indoor Cats Are Dying from Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Various Toxins in the Home.")

"They left it there for the tide to come in and drown it," MacKinnon added. "It was a horrible way to die, to wait for the waves to come in. It was imprisoned by the rocks on all four sides."

The police are allegedly investigating this case, but feline abuse is seldom taken seriously in this society so an arrest is extremely unlikely. (See Cat Defender post of May 13, 2008 entitled "Just When It Appeared That She Was Going to Make It, Arwen Dies Suddenly after Being Shot in the Abdomen with a Barbed Arrow.")

Disposing of unwanted cats and kittens by drowning them is so old that it has become politically acceptable in many communities throughout the so-called civilized world. (See Cat Defender posts of October 23, 2007 and July 3, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Virginia Does It Again! Farmer Who Drowned at Least Five Cats Gets Off with a Slap-on-the-Wrists" and "Crooked Massachusetts Cops Allow Politician to Get Away with Attempting to Drown a Kitten Named Lucky Girl.")

Even Daniel Defoe's fictional Robinson Crusoe made a habit of drowning cats. Obviously, as long as this despicable practice remains politically palatable it is going to continue.

The same logic applies equally to veterinarians, Animal Control officers, and shelter workers who exterminate tens of millions of cats each year. Despite all of their strutting and pontificating, they are every bit as evil as individuals who murder cats outright.

In Cincinnati, twenty-three-year-old miscreant Raymond Southerland gets his jollies by playing a slightly more macabre game. As an added inducement in order to get his former roommate to repay a debt, he wired the ensanguined corpse of a cat that he had stored in his icebox to the tailpipe of her van on May 12th. (See photo above.)

"The only message that I got from that was that he was a complete idiot and disgusting, because I knew who did it," Mallory Fisher told WKRC-TV on May 13th. (See "Cat Wired to Car Exhaust.") "I knew he had a dead cat in his refrigerator."

Southerland, who has been charged with animal cruelty, is back out on the street after an unidentified Louisville woman bailed him out of the slammer. Meanwhile, it is not known how the cat died or even if the authorities are planning to conduct a necropsy. Most likely the cat will be denied even a proper burial.

Photos: Tompkins County SPCA (Newfield cat and bag and brick), The Missoulian (Lucky and Josh Macrow), and WKRC-TV (cat wired to exhaust pipe).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Predatory Capitalism Rears Its Ugly Head as Minnesota Bed and Breakfast Sacks Overnight Cats, Morris and Fred

"Si vous etes digne de son affection, un chat deviendra votre ami mais jamais votre esclave."
-- Theophile Gautier

In a shocking display of the predatory nature of capitalism, historic Anderson House in Wabasha, Minnesota has shown the gate to a pair of its so-called "overnight" cats, Morris and Fred. Although no specific reasons have been given for the cats' curt dismissals, it is quite obvious that management, having sucked all the blood that it could get out of them, no longer found it cost effective to keep them around. (See photo above of the inn.)

Far from being either mascots or mousers, Morris and Fred were part of a large contingent of "overnight" cats who have toiled away for the state's oldest continuously operating bed and breakfast since the 1970s. Requested by paying guests either at the time reservations are made or upon check-in, they are then passed off to complete strangers like dollar whores.

Their litter boxes, food, water, and toys are delivered and they are then locked away for the night. The next day they are packed up again and shuffled off to spend the night with a different guest.

"I think he'd be happier somewhere else," manageress Teresa Smith, who operates the lodging house along with her husband, Mike, said of Morris in a May 3rd interview with Rochester's Post-Bulletin. (See "Retired Anderson House Host Cat Is Ready to Be Your Guest.") "He's a very loving cat but on his terms."

The establishment is somewhat more forthcoming on its web site. "Morris is ready to retire -- can't handle the new kids on the block. He loves attention but does not like to be picked up."

Reading between the lines, it is safe to assume that Morris has gotten tired of being abused and exploited and let Smith and her customers know it. Moreover, cats that develop an aversion to being picked up usually have a good reason, i.e., they have been repeatedly dropped.

It also is quite understandable that cats misused like Morris would develop an antipathy to being constantly pawed by an ever-changing cast of characters. Smith's oblique charge that he "can't handle the new kids on the block" could refer to anything from his relations with his fellow felines to how well he gets along with guests.

Whatever the reason, his sacking is especially heartless in light of the fact that the orange tabby has spent the majority of his ten to twelve years on this earth working for Anderson House. In human terms, that would make him between fifty-six and sixty-four years of age. (See photo below.) Even if a new home can be found for him, he is sure to have a difficult time adjusting.

Whereas dogs belong to people, cats belong to places. "Passion for place -- there is no greater urge in feline nature," children's author Paul Annixter once wrote.

Morris first of all will have to be kept inside for several months in order to prevent him from attempting to return to his old home. He will sans doute miss his fellow felines and the familiar haunts and smells of the old inn.

Uprooting a cat of his age cannot be considered anything but cruel. The Smiths certainly have enough space and money in order to allow him to live out the remainder of his days at the inn. That is what the management at Lake Quinault Lodge in Washington State have done for a stray named Roosevelt. (See Cat Defender post of January 7, 2008 entitled "Roosevelt, Who Has Brightened the Lives of So Many Vacationers, Now Sets His Sights on Saving Other Homeless Cats and Dogs.")

Like most capitalists, the Smiths are, unfortunately, too greedy and mercenary to do even that much for Morris and the other cats that they so callously discard. A one-year-old orange cat dubbed Mini Morris already has been procured from parts unknown in order to replace his namesake.

It is even more mysterious why Fred, a three-year-old black tomcat, is being given the boot. (See photo below.) After all, he only arrived at the bed and breakfast last year when he was brought in to replace a cat named Goblin that had died.

In the Post-Bulletin article cited supra, Smith describes Fred as alternately a cat who "thinks he's a dog" and as a "cool cat," while on the inn's web site he is said to be "very loving and will be great for anyone." Quite obviously, what Smith is implying is that he would be a good fit for anyone else except for her money-making empire.

Based upon their posted comments, readers of the Post-Bulletin are overwhelmingly appalled by Anderson House's mean treatment of Morris. (Fred's sacking has not been reported by the newspaper.) In fact, many of them have pledged to boycott the guesthouse.

Under the circumstances, a full and thorough investigation is warranted of not only how management treats the cats but, more importantly, how they are treated by guests. Since cats are creatures of habit who do not take well to strangers, a prima facie case could be made that the entire setup at Anderson House is abusive and exploitative.

Although innumerable cats are gainfully employed in both the private and public sectors, their working conditions usually are far different than those experienced by their beleaguered colleagues at Anderson House. For instance, tea drinkers at Tokyo's cat cafes are free to enjoy the presence of cats but it is always on the felines' terms. (See Christian Science Monitor, April 25, 2008, "Tokyo's Cat Cafes Offer Serenity in the City.")

Therapeutic cats and dogs that visit hospitals and nursing homes do so on their own terms and with the accompaniment of their owners. (See The Reporter-Herald of Loveland, Colorado, April 13, 2008, "Disabled Cat Provides Therapeutic Interaction.")

At a Rhode Island nursing home, the amazing Oscar is allowed to come and go as he pleases as he dispenses comfort to the dying. (See Cat Defender post of July 30, 2007 entitled "A Visit from Oscar the Cat Means the Grim Reaper Cannot Be Far Behind for the Terminally Ill at Rhode Island Nursing Home.")

In all of these cases, the cats retain their freedom and are treated with dignity and respect as opposed to cash cows. More importantly, if Anderson House's cats liked the way in which they are being treated they would not be rebelling and getting the sack.

Management also should be required to disclose records of how many cats it has run through the inn during the past thirty years. In particular, close scrutiny should be given to how unwanted cats, such as Morris and Fred, have been disposed of over the years.

The public is entitled to know if these cats are given over to shelters to kill or do the Smiths dispose of them in some other nefarious manner. Above all, Anderson House should not be permitted to operate a revolving door whereby it takes in cats, exploits them, and then dumps them.

Even procuring good homes for the cats that it sacks is insufficient. Jaded by their misuse at Anderson House, these cats may not last long with new families. In fact, adoption could be only a way station on the road to being slaughtered at a shelter.

It is therefore incumbent upon animal rights groups to follow up on the fate of cats and dogs after their working days have come to an end. Businesses and organizations that serially exploit, abuse, and dump animals should be identified and prosecuted.

Attention also should be concentrated upon how the cats are procured and, in particular, the role that shelters and other humane organizations play in aiding and abetting Anderson House. The Post-Bulletin's eagerness to assist the Smiths in their shenanigans is reprehensible but entirely predictable.

Totally lacking in shame as well as in compassion, the Smiths have announced on the inn's web site that they are holding "cat interviews" in order to restock and interested parties are urged to forward photographs of their cats.

Since most shelters and humane organizations allow individuals to repeatedly adopt and return any number of cats and dogs, there probably is nothing illegal about Anderson House's modus operandi. It furthermore could be argued that it is giving unwanted cats a few years of life that they otherwise would not have had if the knackers had gotten hold of them. That does not materially change the fact, however, that its treatment of the cats is tacky and inhumane.

Anyone who adopts a cat or a dog is a genuine hero in every sense of the word, but to then turn around and either return or abandon it negates the good deed. Once an individual adopts an animal he or she is responsible for its well-being for the remainder of its life.

This moral precept applies to individuals and should be extended to businesses as well. Moreover, serial adopters and dumpers like Anderson House set a horrible example for the remainder of society.

Raising the issue of Anderson House's naked exploitation of its "overnight" cats, admittedly, opens up a Pandora's box. At the Clipper Ship Inn in Salem, Massachusetts, Suzanne Sullivan is up the spout as the result of her humane efforts to house, as opposed to exploit, homeless cats.

For example, the local health department not only has stripped her establishment of the right to serve food, but it also has mandated separate litter boxes, cat perches, and rabies' vaccinations for each of her cats. (See Cat Defender post of May 21, 2007 entitled "Salem, Massachusetts Is Going After Cats Again Much Like It Did During 1692 Witch Trials.")

That is not what is needed anymore than the benign neglect shown by the D Sands Condominium Motel in Lincoln City, Oregon. In that instance, management allowed a cat named Marmalade who had been hit by a motorist and assaulted by a raccoon to wander its grounds for months with a prolapsed rectum. (See Cat Defender post of October 16, 2007 entitled "Tourists from Michigan Save the Life of a Critically Ill Oregon Cat Named Marmalade.")

What is needed is an enlightened public policy that would encourage lodging houses and other commercial establishments to shelter homeless cats and dogs without burdening them with superfluous and expensive legal requirements while at the same time protecting the welfare of the animals. That is a fine line to draw but intelligent and humane public officials should be capable of striking an appropriate balance.

Of paramount concern is the odious practice that many businesses and institutions have of killing their cats as soon as they grow old or sickly. Par exemple, that is how the world famous library cat Dewey Readmore Books met his end. (See Cat Defender posts of December 7, 2006 and May 10, 2007 entitled, respectively, "After Nineteen Years of Service and Companionship, Ingrates at Iowa Library Murder Dewey Readmore Books" and "Iowa Librarian Vicki Myron Inks Million Dollar Deal for Memoir about Dewey Readmore Books.")

The same fate befell Colin's of Port Taranaki and a newspaper cat named Tripod. (See Cat Defender posts of May 31, 2007 and February 9, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Port Taranaki Kills Off Its World Famous Seafaring Feline, Colin's, at Age Seventeen" and "Newspaper Cat Named Tripod Is Killed Off by Journalists He Befriended in Vermont.")

In addition to the newcomer Mini Morris, Anderson House currently has three other "overnight" cats on its staff. Ginger, who is described as the friendliest of the crew, craves attention and is no doubt a favorite of ailurophiles.

Arnold is a dashing black tomcat with splashes of white running down his handsome face and chest. He is not only great with kids but reportedly already has had a book published about himself.

A gray and white cat named Aloysius rounds out the team. Fairly new to the job, he is described as shy but loving.

From the personality profiles posted on its web site it is clear that Anderson House keeps around only those cats that are highly sociable and do not mind being bandied about from guest to guest. That petit fait alone strongly suggests that a large percentage of the Smiths' adoptees sooner or later will be getting the bum's rush like Morris and Fred.

To their credit, cats are not brownnosers and that is precisely the personality trait that ailurophiles love about them and ailurophobes, quite naturally, detest. As musician Jeff Valdez once said, "Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow."

The last word fittingly belongs to French poet Theophile Gautier who had an abiding appreciation for cats that is totally beyond the keen of the moneygrubbing Smiths. "Si vous etes digne do son affection, un chat deviendra votre ami mais jamais votre esclave."

Photos: Minnesota Bed and Breakfasts (Anderson House), Post-Bulletin (Morris), and Anderson House (Fred).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Just When It Appeared That She Was Going to Make It, Arwen Dies Suddenly after Being Shot in the Abdomen with a Barbed Arrow

"In my short time knowing her, I could tell she was a very special kitty. I wanted to give her every chance she deserved."
-- Veterinarian Geoffrey Adams

The last week of Arwen's all-too-short life was pure hell. Shot through the abdomen with an arrow outfitted with razor blades sometime around April 28th, she wandered around New Port Richey, Florida for three or four days with the projectile still inside her until she was spotted a few blocks from Sims Park by an unidentified good Samaritan on May 1st.

The woman then rushed her to veterinarian Geoffrey Adams who was able to successfully remove the prickly arrow. Unfortunately, her left front leg had become so infected by then that it had to be amputated. In its place Adams inserted a small hollow drain tube. (See photo above.)

Named after Arwen Undomiel from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, the black and white cat was given a blood transfusion courtesy of Adams' office cat and placed on antibiotics and painkillers. A feeding tube was inserted, IV fluids administered, and she was placed in an incubator. Adams, his wife, and two-year-old son even spent the weekend hand-feeding and watching over her in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of his surgery.

She seemed to be responding well to treatment and Adams even went so far as to predict that she was going to be fine. Sometimes the desire to live is not enough, however, even when it is coupled with the love and dedication of a trained professional.

The forces of evil often are just too strong to be overcome. Sadly, that was Arwen's fate and the seven-pound moggy crossed the Rainbow Bridge on May 4th.

"She fought hard while she was with us, so we did not give up on her," Adams told WTSP-TV of Tampa on May 4th. (See "Update: Cat Dies After Being Shot with Arrow.") "In my short time knowing her, I could tell she was a very special kitty. I wanted to give her every chance she deserved." (See photos below of Adams by himself and with the deadly arrow.)

In a world where liars and four-flushers predominate, Adams was true to his word and although his herculean efforts were for nought he takes comfort in knowing that he was able at least to ease Arwen's misery. "She never suffered in our care," he added. "We kept her pain-free with analgesics while she was in our ICU."

It was a minor miracle that Arwen even made it to Adams' surgery in the first place. Au premier coup d'oeil, her rescuer could not believe her eyes but instead thought that the cat was a stuffed animal with an arrow through its stomach. It was only after Arwen suddenly blinked and stared back at her that she belatedly realized that this was not a prank.

This senseless killing of still another cat has left Adams dumbfounded. "It's cruel. It's just unfathomable. I don't know how somebody can do this. I don't know why," he told WTSP-TV on May 1st. (See "Cat Found with Arrow Through Belly.") "I don't know how to think like someone that could do something like this."

Not only did Adams, who specializes in treating reptiles, donate his services gratis, but he also had pledged to house and feed Arwen until a good home could be found for her. "We are going to treat her, fatten her up, spay her, and nurse her back to health," he told WTSP-TV in the May 1st article cited supra.

Because of her friendly and outgoing personality, Arwen obviously was not a feral cat. She either had a home or at least previously was cared for by someone. Sadly, no one has come forward to even claim her remains.

Although she would have been handicapped for the remainder of her life, Adams felt that she would have gotten along just fine on three legs. "If she gets the chance, she's going to have a good life and make someone happy," he predicted. (See Cat Defender posts of November 2, 2006 and February 9, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Three-Legged, Bobtailed Cat Named Opie Melts the Hearts of Hardened Criminals at Rural Tennessee Prison" and "Newspaper Cat Named Tripod Is Killed Off by Journalists He Befriended in Vermont.")

It is a sad commentary upon the profession but there are not many practicing veterinarians who are willing to treat homeless animals. Most of them nonchalantly allow the impecunious to die unless someone steps forward and agrees to foot the bill for their care. Quite obviously, veterinarians who think and behave in such a mercenary fashion are no better than the Sam Waltons, Warren Buffets, and Bill Gateses of this miserable old world.

Even in cases involving either injured or sickly companion animals veterinarians employ runners who hustle back and forth between the operating theater and the waiting room in order to deliver price quotes and to receive assurances that they will be paid for each level of treatment administered. (See Renae Hamrick, "A Technician's Night in the Veterinary Emergency Room" at petplace.com and 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.")

Regular physicians are almost as cutthroat. For instance, emergency rooms in New Jersey often will not treat the poor unless they are hemorrhaging profusely and even then it is only to save their carpeting. Worst still, the old oligarch who runs the show in Trenton is even trying to eliminate what little charity care hospitals now provide.

Arwen's murder is the second horrific bow and arrow attack upon a cat in the Tampa area in less than three years. On August 17, 2005, a nine-week-old black and white male kitten named Archer from Tarpon Springs was wounded by a twelve-inch metal and plastic arrow fired from a crossbow.

The projectile, which missed his tiny heart by centimeters, broke a rib, punctured a lung, and pierced his liver. He since has made a complete recovery and now lives with his rescuer, Kathy Powers of Tropic Signs and Shirts. (See Cat Defender post of August 25, 2005 entitled "Nine-Week-Old Kitten Nicknamed Archer Recovering After Being Shot with Crossbow Near Tampa.")

Twenty-year-old Stephen H. Cockerill of Palm Harbor pleaded guilty on July 28, 2006 to the attack but was let off by Circuit Judge Doug Baird with a minuscule thirty-days in jail. (See Cat Defender post of August 2, 2007 entitled "Ohio Cat Shot in the Leg with an Arrow Is Forced to Endure a Long-Drawn Out and Excruciating Death.")

Whereas police officers, prosecutors and judges in Florida snicker at animal cruelty, the legal establishment in California is considerably more protective of the rights of animals. For instance, Robert Eugene Brunner of the San Diego suburb of Vista was given three years in the cooler last year for firing two arrows into his next door neighbor's cat, Bill.

In a separate civil suit, he also was ordered to pay Bill's distraught owner, Janeen Bubien, $2,500 in damages plus give her an additional $5,000 in order that she might relocate to a more feline-friendly neighborhood. (See Cat Defender posts of August 14, 2007 and September 24, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Grieving Owner Seeks Justice for Orange Tabby Named Bill That Was Hunted Down and Savagely Killed with a Bow and Arrow" and "California Man Who Slew His Neighbor's Cat with a Bow and Arrow Is Sentenced to Three Years in Jail.")

In Dodge County, Wisconsin, seventeen-year-old Patrick Dalle-Nogare of Brownsville is accused of shooting a four-month-old kitten from Theresa in the eye with an arrow on September 24th of last year.

The kitten survived the unprovoked attack but the event has left its owner "shocked, sick, and upset." Dale-Nogare, who is due back in court on May 28th, will without a doubt beat the rap. (See The Reporter of Fond du Lac, May 6, 2008, "Teen Accused of Shooting Cat in Eye with Arrow.")

Bows and guns are manufactured and sold for only one purpose: to kill. Whether the intended victim is a defenseless animal or an individual, these lethal devices do not have any place in any halfway humane society.

The same logic equally applies to Tasers. (See Cat Defender posts of April 8, 2008 and April 28, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Ohio Politician Purposes Adding Cats to the Growing List of Pigs, Other Animals, and Humans Killed by Tasers" and "Orange County Sheriff's Department Is Accused of Killing a Cat with a Taser at the Theo Lacy Jail.")

Since most legislators are on the payrolls of the National Rife Association and pro-hunting groups, the onus by default falls upon judges and juries to protect animal and human life by severely punishing both individuals and policemen who misuse guns, bows, Tasers, and other lethal weapons.

The task of bringing Arwen's killer to justice is compounded by the lack of interest shown in this case by the New Port Richey Police. For instance, although Arwen's rescuer telephoned 911, the department did not even dispatch an officer to the crime scene.

Even the filing of an official complaint by Arwen's rescuer has not been sufficient to spur the police into action. Lt. Scott Baker apparently has decided to wait until the killer assaults a person before launching an investigation.

"We often see unfortunate cases later on, when these people become worse and move on to person-on-person crime," he told the St. Petersburg Times on May 11th. (See "Cat's Fate Tears at Hearts.") "There is a pattern."

Besides being a gross dereliction of his sworn duty as an officer of the law, Baker's attitude is nothing short of disgusting. Cats, dogs, and other animals have just as much of a right to live and to be treated humanely as do people.

What was done to Arwen is an outrage and this case should be investigated on its own merits. Waiting around until the perpetrator kills another cat or attacks a person neither satisfies the demands of justice nor protects feline and human life.

Even local animal rights groups are conspicuously silent. The only organization known to even have offered a reward for the capture of the killer is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona!

"Whoever committed this horrific act of animal cruelty should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and undergo psychological counseling," Carmine Cardamone of the Animal Defense Council told the St. Petersburg Times on May 12th. (See "Reward Offered in Cat Cruelty Case.") "We are deeply concerned that the person or persons who perpetrated this barbaric crime will commit more acts of animal cruelty, and will eventually harm people in the community. Cruelty against animals is often an indicator of future violence against humans."

Thousands of cats and other animals are either killed or abused every day around the world but only a handful of these cases make the news. Righteous indignation and complaining have their places but they will not put an end to the killing and abuse.

That will occur only when animal advocacy groups muster the strength in order to force this nation's corrupt-as-hell legal and political establishments into taking animal cruelty cases seriously. In fact, a strong case could be made that individuals who commit these dastardly deeds should be punished even more severely than their counterparts who attack individuals.

In Tolkien's Sindarin, Arwen means "noble woman" which is an especially fitting epithet for the brave little cat who suffered so mightily but yet courageously fought on until her tiny body finally gave out on her. Her remains will be cremated but, sadly, no service is planned.

Perhaps Adams will find it in his heart to at least offer her a proper burial and a tombstone. That alone would go a long way toward ensuring that she does not simply become another victim whose murder has been conveniently forgotten.

Photos: WTSP-TV (Arwen), Pasco Animal Hospital (Adams), and Brendan Fitterer of the St. Petersburg Times (Adams with arrow.)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The National Audubon Society Wins the Right for an Invasive Species of Shorebirds to Prey Upon Unborn Horseshoe Crabs

"As the (Bush) Administration weighs the petition for more federal protection, the New Jersey legislature has taken bold action that would protect the Red Knot's food source."
-- Betsy Loyless, National Audubon Society

"It is ethically dubious killing one species for the sake of another."
-- Rob Atkinson, RSPCA

Bird and wildlife advocates won a major victory on March 25th when Governor Jon Corzine signed into law a bill indefinitely banning the harvesting of horseshoe crabs by commercial fishermen along the New Jersey coast. (See photo above of the signing ceremony.) Far from being a conservation measure, this is another governmental giveaway to the powerful bird and wildlife lobby which successfully argued that it has a god-given right to appropriate the unborn on Limalus polyphemus for predation by invasive species of shorebirds.

"... we are here today to extend the moratorium on horseshoe crab harvesting, so as to reverse the endangerment and prevent the extinction of the Red Knot species and other shorebirds," the high-strutting old oligarch from Goldman Sachs, who has a taste for expensive women, is quoted as saying by the Environmental News Service (ENS) in its March 26th edition. (See "Red Knots Get to Feed on Horseshoe Crab Eggs.") "This moratorium will be held in place until the populations of both horseshoe crabs and Red Knots have returned to a level where they are self-sustaining as determined by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)."

Thoroughly ruthless and unabashedly hypocritical, Betsy Loyless of the National Audubon Society (NAS) added, "As the (Bush) Administration weighs the petition for more federal protection, the New Jersey legislature has taken bold action that would protect the Red Knot's food source."

Eric Stiles of NAS's New Jersey chapter was practically drooling from his pie hole as visions of financial grandeur danced throughout his greedy gourd. "We applaud the successful effort of legislators to secure this treasure and ensure we don't cook the golden goose by destroying a multimillion dollar wildlife watching tourism industry," he salivated for the Cape May County Herald on March 19th. (See "Environmental Groups Laud Passage of Horseshoe Crab Harvest Ban.")

At the center of this cause celebre is a medium-sized seabird known as the Red Knot which stops along Delaware Bay to feed during its annual migration from Tierra del Fuego to its breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic. (See photo below.) By raiding the nests of horseshoe crabs, Calidris canutus are quickly able to double their weight within a fortnight and thus continue on their journey.

Although they were shot as food toward the end of the nineteenth century, their defenders now blame a precipitate decline in horseshoe crabs for pushing the species toward extinction. Accurate statistics are in short supply but some conservationists estimate that there could be as few as twenty-thousand Red Knots left in existence. Moreover, under guidelines established by the Shorebird Conservation Plan of May 2001, the species will not be deemed to be out of danger until its numbers increase to two-hundred-forty-thousand.

Commercial fishermen, who use the crabs as bait in order to catch conch, whelk, and eels, quite naturally deny that they are responsible for the crabs' decline. "It's (fishing) an industry that deserves to survive, and it hasn't been absolutely proven that the moratorium is a benefit to the overall Red Knot population," Gary DiDomenico of the Garden State Seafood Association told The New York Times on March 2nd. (See "In a Legal Tug of War, It's Bird Versus Crab Egg.")

Although DiDomenico did not spell it out, predation by Red Knots and other shorebirds is every bit as responsible for the decline in horseshoe crabs as is commercial fishing. The holier-than-thou hypocrites that comprise the bird and wildlife lobby are not about to own up to their crimes, however. Au contraire, their modus operandi always has been to demonize and blame other groups and species.

As for shorebirds, their numbers are affected by a multitude of factors. At the top of the list are habitat destruction and climate change caused by global warming. The skies also are increasingly crowded with airplanes, gratte ciels, and communications towers, all of which take their toll.

Many migratory birds also are shot by hunters as well as killed by such natural predators as peregrine falcons. Others die from exhaustion and severe weather conditions. Even birders are having a deleterious affect upon shorebirds by despoiling their habitats with their bird-watching activities.

Americans' lust for grapes, bananas, melons, rice, and other out-of-season fruits and vegetables also is blamed for endangering as many as one-hundred-fifty species of migratory birds. This is due to the fact that pesticides which were long ago banned in both North American and on the Continent are still being used profusely in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.

"With spring we take it for granted that the sound of songbirds will fill the air with their cheerful sounds," Bridget Stutchbury of York University in Toronto wrote in the International Herald Tribune on March 30th. (See "Did Your Shopping List Kill a Songbird?" and The Independent, April 4, 2008, "American Songbirds Are Being Wiped Out by Banned Pesticides.") "But each year, as we continue to demand out-of-season fruits and vegetables, fewer and fewer songbirds will return."

Migratory birds also are regarded as pests by farmers in Latin America and the Caribbean and this no doubt leads to countless fatalities. Even if they are fortunate enough to make it to either the United States or Canada they often discover that their previous habitats have been appropriated by either developers or farmers growing corn for the lucrative ethanol market.

In today's world of unchecked greed, it is the unhappy fate of countless birds, mammals, and poor people to die from malnutrition and hunger just so that the bourgeoisie and the rich can power their automobiles, airplanes, and war machines. On top of that, the burning of coal in order to generate electricity and the use of dirty bunker fuels to power cargo ships is wreaking wholesale destruction upon the planet. (See International Herald Tribune, April 25, 2008, "Sludge at Sea: Shipping Slow to Clean Up.")

Moreover, consumers who purchase out-of-season fruits and vegetables are not doing themselves any favors in that such produce is three to four times more likely to be coated with banned pesticides. Washing and peeling helps but even those preventative measures are insufficient to remove all of the contaminants.

The plight of North American songbirds mirrors that of the estimated five-billion migratory birds that travel from Africa to Europe each spring. For instance, of the thirty-six species of African birds for which significant data exists, twenty-one have declined since 1967. (See The Independent, April 21, 2008, "The Migration Crisis.")

As is the case with Red Knots, not all migratory birds are angels. In Bangladesh, par exemple, hawks, swallows, shrikes, loons, ducks, and geese from Siberia are destroying seedbeds and rice plants as well as depleting fish stocks.

This avian onslaught comes on the heels of Cyclone Sidr which on November 15th claimed thirty-three-hundred lives and left millions homeless. (See Reuters, December 28, 2007, "'Guest Birds' Threat to Cyclone Survivors.")

Gamekeepers and hunters in England also are endangering such birds of prey as golden eagles, buzzards, peregrine falcons, and hen harriers by continuing to illegally hunt them. (See The Independent, April 22, 2008, "Birds of Prey Face Persecution.")

On the coral atoll of Midway in the Pacific, discarded plastic bags and other debris are literally choking the life out of Laysan albatrosses. In addition to plastic bags, the birds are dying because they are ingesting discarded toothbrushes, disposable cigarette lighters, bottle caps, and bits and pieces of fishing nets.

The problem is so severe that some of the birds' stomachs are becoming so weighted down with plastic debris that they cannot even get off the ground in order to search for food. (See BBC, March 26, 2008, "New 'Battle of Midway' over Plastic" and BBC, March 27, 2008, "Warning on Plastic's Toxic Threat.")

Farther north in the Pacific, the continued predation of gray whales by aboriginal tribesmen is blamed for endangering migratory birds that feed upon amphipods sucked in and expelled by the behemoths of the deep. (See Washington Post, September 11, 2007, "Warming May Be Hurting Gray Whales' Recovery.")

As for horseshoe crabs, they are the Rodney Dangerfields of the animal world in that they are savagely preyed upon by birds, fishermen, and vivisectors. (See photo below.)

Not only has their uncanny ability to regrow severed appendages, like sea stars, intrigued scientists for decades, but their four compound eyes have been repeatedly studied. In fact, Americans H. Keffer Hartline and George Wald along with Swedish scientist Ragnar Granit were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1967 for torturing and blinding countless crabs.

Chitin derived from their shells has been used since the 1950s in order to suture and dress wounds. Most notably, it is estimated to reduce healing time by as much as fifty per cent in certain cases.

Even more importantly, crabs produce a substance known as Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL) which has the capacity to trap invading bacteria. This in turn makes the animals extremely valuable to vivisectors testing new drugs, vaccines, and medical devices, as well as those studying microbial diseases. Specifically, LAL is useful in finding remedies to maladies that have become resistant to penicillin.

All totaled, vivisectors shell out around $375,000 annually in order to purchase two-hundred-fifty-thousand horseshoe crabs. The LAL stolen from them is worth $50 million worldwide. On an individual level, LAL and other fluids taken from each crab during its lifetime are worth an estimated $2,500 to vivisectors.

The crabs can be bled up to three times a year but only once for LAL. Although up to thirty per cent of their blood is taken at each bleeding, volume returns to normal in about a week's time. Two to three months are required, however, for blood cell counts to rebound.

According to the Ecological Research and Development Group (ERDG), vivisectors use clam rakes in order to harvest the animals in shallow waters and dredges to remove them from deeper venues. While the former method is considered to be relatively humane, many clams are injured and scarred during dredging activities.

There is considerable disagreement, however, regarding the mortality rate of crabs that are bled. As one would expect, the manufacturers of LAL insist that they kill only three per cent of the crabs that they bleed whereas research conducted by universities and governmental bodies put the rate at closer to between ten and fifteen per cent.

While returning the crabs to the water is certainly preferable to killing them and then selling their flesh, it nonetheless subjects them to a lifetime of being recaptured and bled in much the same fashion that wildlife proponents repeatedly trap and electronically bug wild animals. (See Cat Defender posts of May 4, 2006 and February 29, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Scientific Community's Use of High-Tech Surveillance Is Aimed at Subjugating, Not Saving, the Animals" and "The Repeated Hounding Down and Tagging of Walruses Exposes Electronic Surveillance as Not Only Cruel but a Fraud.")

Known as living fossils because they have changed so little during the estimated half-a-million years that they have been on this planet, horseshoe crabs are closely related to spiders, ticks, and scorpions. Feeding upon a diet of mollusks, worms, invertebrates, and seaweed, they grow to be around two-feet in size and have a life span of between twenty-four and thirty-one years.

It is currently believed that there are somewhere between two and five million of them living along the East Coast from New Jersey to Virginia. Because they do not reach sexual maturity until they are eleven-years-old any sustained predation of either them or their eggs is going to have a huge impact upon the species regardless of whether the killers are birds, fishermen, or vivisectors. Besides, an alarming ten per cent of them perish each year when they are flipped on their sides by the incoming tide.

This has prompted ERDG to launch a "Just Flip 'Em" campaign which encourages beachcombers to right these helpless animals. The organization also has developed a mesh bag which prevents other species from stealing bait from conch and whelk traps and this has led to a dramatic decease in the number of horseshoe crabs required by fishermen in Virginia.

Sadly, absolutely nobody sees any intrinsic value in horseshoe crabs. For birders and wildlife proponents they are merely a cheap source of protein for the birds that they in turn exploit in order to line their pockets with ecotourism dollars.

For vivisectors, they are a cash cow to torture, exploit, and kill at will. They also were worth $1.5 million annually to commercial fishermen before the recent moratorium was declared. They are, in short, a throwaway species.

As for bird and wildlife advocates, the crimes that they commit are by no means confined to crabs. On the contrary, they have their own agendas and are not the least bit hesitant to use violence in order to eliminate any animals or groups that stand in the way of the achievement of their objectives. (See Cat Defender posts of December 8, 2007 and November 20, 2007 entitled, respectively, "All the Lies That Fit: Scheming New York Times Hires a Bird Lover to Render His 'Unbiased' Support for James M. Stevenson" and "Bird Lovers All Over the World Rejoice as Serial Killer James M. Stevenson Is Rewarded by Galveston Court for Gunning Down Hundreds of Cats.")

In March of this year, for example, bird advocates and the USFWS blackmailed Cape May, New Jersey into getting rid of part of its population of homeless cats and fencing in the remainder. (See Cape May County Herald, March 5, 2008, "New Cat Regs Part of Cape May's Beach Plan" and The Press of Atlantic City, March 5, 2008, "Cape May Says Feral Cats Can Stay, but They Will Be Fenced In.")

In particular, the USFWS withheld funding needed for beach replenishment until Cape May caved in and took action to protect piping plovers, which it alleges are threatened by cats. Although Alley Cat Allies (ACA) and other feline defenders put up a spirited defense, they clearly lost that battle. (See photo above of a protester.)

Under threat of a $15,000 per day fine from the USFWS, the town of Brookhaven on Long Island last month agreed to pay Nuisance Wildlife Control $10,000 to trap and remove about thirty cats from Mount Sinai's Cedar Beach. Once again, the USFWS and bird advocates argued that the cats had to go because they were preying upon piping plovers, bobwhites, and ovenbirds. (See Newsday, April 7, 2008, "Feral Cats, Endangered Birds Each Have Defenders.")

Local cat-hater and vigilante Karen Alt has taken it upon herself to also trap and remove cats. For whatever it is worth, she claims that the cats are handed over to a private sanctuary. (See Newsday, April 7, 2008, "She's on the Hunt for Feral Cats.")

As for those cats trapped by Nuisance Wildlife Control, Charlie McGinley of Brookhaven's Animal Shelter told Newsday on April 8th that they are going to be released at an undisclosed location on private property. (See "Brookhaven to Vote on Trapping Cats.")

It is conceivable that Alt and McGinley are telling the truth but highly unlikely. Once a cat is in custody the temptation to kill it is overwhelming. Besides, both inveterate ailurophobes and so-called cat advocates alike are guilty of using sickness as a pretext in order to kill cats. In reality, most feral cats are healthy at the time of their incarceration; it is the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions at shelters that cause health problems.

In Palm Coast, Florida, City Manager Jim Landon on March 25th ordered that fifty or so cats living along the Intracoastal Waterway be trapped and removed. (See photo below.) Once again, bird proponents were responsible for the cats' ouster although city officials also complained that the feeding stations were attracting vultures. (See Daytona Beach News-Journal, April 14, 2008, "Feral Cat Advocates Protest Capture of Colony" and Der Spiegel, March 14, 2008, "EU Carcass Laws Starve Europe's Scavengers.")

The cats are scheduled to be turned over to the Flagler County Humane Society which will then decide their fate. Although there is talk of giving the cats sanctuary on private property, advocates fear that they will be killed.

Since cats are territorial, ACA opposes relocating them. This first of all entails caging them for several months in order to prevent them from returning to their old haunts. In addition to the money and shelter space that this entails, caged cats are subject to a myriad of diseases which makes it unlikely that many of them will survive long in detention.

"Where cats are trapped is where they live," ACA's Elizabeth Parowski told Daytona Beach's News-Journal on April 5th. (See "Feral Cat Enthusiasts Seek Land for Colony.") "They usually are very territorial. They usually go back to where they came from."

In Connecticut, the Audubon Society and wildlife officials have their long knives out not only for cats but deer, geese, ducks, and swans as well. (See Cat Defender post of March 15, 2007 entitled "Connecticut Audubon Society Shows Its True Colors by Calling for the Slaughter of Feral Cats, Mute Swans, Mallards, Canada Geese, and Deer.")

Since the endangered Eastern Loggerhead Turtle and sea gulls also feed upon crab eggs along Delaware Bay, it most likely is only a matter of time before birders will be calling for their elimination as well.

Bird and wildlife proponents are increasingly relying upon the Endangered Species Act of 1972 and the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918 in order to kill cats. While it is extremely unlikely that the drafters of those laws ever intended them to be applied to cats and other domestic animals, such a contorted reading of them is gaining momentum with legislators.

For instance, the United States House of Representatives last year adopted House Resolution 767 entitled the "Refuge Ecology Protection, Assistance, and Immediate Response Act" which mandates the eradication of all non-native species from federal wildlife refuges and adjacent private lands. The bill is now before the Senate's Committee on the Environment and Public Works chaired by Barbara Boxer of California.

The measure is strenuously opposed by ACA, the ASPCA, and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) because bird and wildlife supporters stubbornly insist that cats and other domestic animals are invasive species and therefore do not have any right to exist.

That, of course, is pure nonsense. Not only have ocelots, cougars, jaguars, jaguarundis, Canadian lynxes, and other cats always roamed North America but Felis domesticus came over with the Spanish conquistadors in 1535 and has always lived outdoors. On the other hand, the United States is home to hundreds of non-native avian species.

More importantly, Red Knots and other shorebirds are invasive species. Just because they show up in Delaware Bay for a fortnight once a year in order to kill horseshoe crabs does not make them native species. Moreover, their migratory status by no means bestows upon them rights which supersede those of cats, crabs, turtles, and other animals that live year-round in Delaware Bay.

Furthermore, because of their predation of crabs and other animals, the extensive damage that they do to crops, plus all the deadly diseases that they spread, such as H5N1 and other strains of Vogelgrippe, the West Nile Virus, etc., a good argument could be made that birds should be either trapped and killed or confined indoors. A Birds Indoors campaign makes a whole lot more sense than the diabolical American Bird Conservancy's Cats Indoors initiative.

The lucrativeness of any species should not be the deciding factor in determining the level of governmental protection that it receives. C'est a dire, just because birders and wildlife officials have grown accustomed to living high on the hog by championing the cause of birds at the expense of cats and other animals does not establish an entitlement.

In addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars that birders rake in from housing and feeding enthusiasts, peddling guide books and field glasses, and conducting bird-watching tours, wildlife officials are paid in the blood of dead animals. According to the USFWS, hunters in 2005 shelled out $723 million for hunting licenses, tags, and stamps. Federal excise taxes on the sale of guns and ammunition brought in an additional $224 million. (See ESPN, January 31, 2007, "Hunting License Sales Generate Record Funding for Conservation.")

The absurdity of funding conservation through blood money is nowhere more evident than in the eradication programs undertaken each year by the USFWS and USDA at the behest of ranchers, farmers, and developers. (See Cat Defender post of September 15, 2005 entitled "United States Government Exterminates Millions of Wild Animals at the Behest of Capitalists.")

In addition to their financial incentives to kill animals, wildlife officials operate upon many ingrained prejudices. Their deliberate introduction of coyotes and fishers into urban areas for the explicit purpose of preying upon cats and dogs is just one of many examples. (See Cat Defender posts of August 28, 2007 and July 19, 2007 entitled, respectively, "TNR Programs, Domestic Cats, Dogs, and Humans Imperiled by Wildlife Proponents' Use and Abuse of Coyotes and Fishers" and "Up to Their Old Tricks, Wildlife Officials Reintroduce Fishers to the Northeast to Prey Upon Cats and to Provide Income for Fur Traffickers.")

The USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has even stooped so low as to target Hemingway's world famous polydactyl cats. (See Cat Defender posts of July 23, 2007 and January 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Cat Behaviorist Is Summed to Key West in Order to Help Determine the Fate of Hemingway's Polydactyls" and "Papa Hemingway's Polydactyl Cats Face New Threats from Both the USDA and Their Caretakers.")

The USFWS' blatant crimes against both the Mexican and Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves are every bit as nauseating as they are infuriating. (See Center for Biological Diversity's press release of March 4, 2008 entitled "Bush Administration Admits Wolves Removed after Alleged Baiting Incident Revealed" and Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2008, "Federal Rule to Allow More Hunting of Gray Wolves.")

Divested of its pretentiousness, the systematic vilification of one species as a prelude to exterminating it amounts to little more than Nazism 101 as applied to the animal kingdom. Moreover, cats are far from being the only species to be branded as pests and targeted for elimination.

Par exemple, Australia currently is eradicating tens of millions of domestic animals that it no longer finds useful. (See Agence France Presse, September 25, 2005, "Millions of Animals Face Death Sentence in Australia" and Cat Defender post of October 20, 2005 entitled "After Ridding the Ohio Statehouse of Rats, Cats Now Find Themselves Facing Eviction.")

In Northumberland, Paul Parker of the Red Squirrel Protection Partnership has secured $300,000 from the government in order to eradicate North American Gray Squirrels. (See photo above.) In the past year, his organization has trapped and shot in the head more than fifteen-thousand of them.

The eradication program has been undertaken not only because the grays carry a parapox virus that is lethal to the reds but also because they are accused of preying upon bird eggs. Once he cleans out northern Angleterre, Parker plans of training his rifle on the grays in London's Hyde Park.

With the notable exception of the RSPCA's Rob Atkinson, the plight of the grays has attracted little support. "It is ethically dubious killing one species for the sake of another," he told the BBC on April 15th. (See "Gray Squirrel Hunting" and The Independent, April 10, 2006, "Saving the Red Squirrel.") "Up until the early 1970s you could get a license to kill red squirrels so they were the baddies then. Now, it's the grays."

In addition to all the welfare money that Parker and his fellow executioners are receiving from the taxpayers, shops and restaurants in Corbridge and elsewhere are cashing in by peddling the flesh of Parker's victims to an uncaring public obsessed with dining upon the latest delicacy harvested from the woods.

Whether the victims be cats, horseshoe crabs, squirrels, or farm animals, it is difficult to imagine their eradication as being motivated by anything other than economic expediency and extreme prejudice. Shouts of conservation and appeals to science serve merely as convenient subterfuges for the exterminators to mask their crimes.

Photos: State of New Jersey (Corzine), Andrew Easton of Wikipedia (Red Knots), Wikipedia (horseshoe crab), Jack Fichter of the Cape May County Herald (protester), Moggies (Palm Coast cats), and North News (Parker).

Monday, May 05, 2008

Chicago's Rambo-Style Cops Corner and Execute a Cougar to the Delight of the Hoi Polloi and the Capitalist Media

"They have to disperse and set up a home range of their own, or when they come of age the dominant male will kill them."
-- Bill Heatherly, Missouri Department of Conservation

When a one-hundred-twenty-four-pound, five-foot-long cougar ventured into the North Side of Chicago on April 14th he got a fatal dose of what his ancestors received more than a century ago when they, with the notable exception of the Florida Panther, were extirpated from the eastern half of the United States by farmers and other colonizers. (See photo above.)

The tragic end came at around 6 p.m. when police officers cornered the cat in an alley of the 3400 block of North Hoyne Avenue. Being the same natural-born killers that policemen everywhere are, they wasted no time in discharging somewhere between eighteen and sixty rounds at the two-year-old male.

"It was turning on the officers. There was no way to take it into custody," police captain Mike Ryan swore to the Chicago Tribune on April 15th. (See "Cops Kill Cougar on North Side.")

That was hardly the case. Based upon complaints filed by residents of Roscoe Village, the cat apparently had been roaming the neighborhood for the better part of the day which provided the police with more than ample time to arm themselves with tranquilizer guns, nets, and protective equipment.

The petit fait that the department deliberately chose not to pursue any of these non-lethal control methods is proof that it sent its officers into that alley with the explicit purpose of carrying out an execution. San Francisco police committed the same offense when they executed an Amur tigress named Tatiana at a zoo on Christmas Day. (See Cat Defender post of January 28, 2008 entitled "Hopped Up on Vodka and Pot, Trio Taunted Tatiana Prior to Attack That Led to Her Being Killed by Police.")

Furthermore, a cougar had been spotted roaming the streets of the northern suburbs of Wilmette and Winnetka for weeks prior to the shooting on the North Side. Also, a hunter in the western county of Mercer shot and killed one in 2004 while another cougar was killed by a locomotive engineer in the southern county of Randolph in 2000.

The police therefore do not have a valid excuse for allowing themselves to be caught flatfooted. Moreover, Chicagoans should demand an explanation as to why it took the police so long to respond to their pleas for assistance.

It is a small miracle that Chicago's trigger-happy cops did not kill any bystanders when they opened up on the cat. As it was, they shot up an air conditioning unit on the outside of Ben Greene's house in addition to scaring the living daylights out of him, his wife, and two young sons.

Despite all of that, Greene remains a staunch defender of the cops and their Rambo-style tactics. "As far as I witnessed, they did a pretty good job," he gushed for the Tribune in the article cited supra. "Hypothetically, if there were kids in the yard and the cougar jumps in, what would the cougar have done?"

A love of animals is not a prerequisite for bon sens, but anyone who would defend the reckless behavior of the Chicago Police is not doing his sums correctly. A band of wild-eyed, trigger-happy cops is the last thing that any halfway responsible citizen would want to have invade his or her neighborhood. Doubters should just ask Sean Bell's fiancee.

The hoi polloi's reaction to the shooting was every bit as nauseating and morally repulsive as the killing itself. As soon as word of the cat's demise filtered through the neighborhood residents began to crawl out of their hiding spaces in order to to gawk, giggle, point, and makes jokes. (See photo above.)

Even television reporter Lourdes Duarte seemed to be absolutely thrilled by the killing. (See WGN-TV, April 14, 2008, "Cougar Shot on Chicago's North Side.")

Even in death, the young cat has been unable to find either peace or dignity. Acting upon the pretext of determining his age and origin, Cook County Animal and Rabies Control (CCARC) in partnership with the Brookfield Zoo quickly divested him of his organs, teeth, and brain.

It was then on to the Field Museum where knackers removed the fat and muscle from both his pelt and skeleton. After they dry, his bones will be placed in an aquarium where they will be picked clean by thousands of flesh-eating beetles.

They next will be frozen in order to kill off any remaining microorganisms that Dermestes vulpinus may have overlooked. His skeleton and pelt then will be filed away for researchers to ogle and paw ad infinitum.

In fact, something akin to a free-for-all has already developed among scientists wanting to get their greedy hands on the cat's skin. (See photo below.) "It seemed like every researcher in the world wanted a piece of this cougar so they could test this and test that," the CCARC's Donna Alexander told the Chicago Tribune on April 30th. (See "Scientists Clamor to Study Cougar Shot in Chicago.")

The eventual winner of the cougar sweepstakes, Bill Stanley of the Field Museum, could hardly contain his glee. "We couldn't begin to tell you everything that this particular specimen will serve," he told the Chicago Tribune on April 24th. (See "Field Museum Archives Cougar's Remains.") "Think of this as putting a book on the shelf of the library."

That last statement pretty much says it all. Whether the offending party is the police, the hoi polloi, or the monsters from the scientific community, the sanctity of life, whether it be animal or human, counts for little or nothing in twenty-first century America.

With the notable exception of the critically endangered Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi), the normal range of these solitary and crepuscular cats extends from the Yukon to the southern Andes. In recent years, however, the North American subspecies (Puma concolor couguar), has begun to stray across the muddy Mississippi and into the Midwest.

In addition to the sightings in Illinois, a one-hundred-pound male cougar was shot and killed by -- who else? -- a wildlife officer in Scottsbluff, Nebraska on January 20th and the body of a cougar kitten was discovered in Chadron, Nebraska last year. There also have been numerous sightings in Missouri in recent years. (See USA Today, February 14, 2008, "Central USA Sees Mountain Lion Migrations.")

Various reasons have been advanced in an effort to help explain why cougars are migrating into the Midwest. Ken Logan of the Colorado Division of Wildlife blames both habitat fragmentation and overpopulation.

"There are more people living and recreating in cougar habitats than at anytime in human history," he told National Geographic on April 17th. (See "Cougar Shot in Chicago: Was One-Thousand Miles from Home?") "In the 1960s you only had a few hundred per state. Now each state has thousands."

Clay Nielson of The Cougar Network concurs. "It's gotten to a place where there's no space, and cougars have to go outside of the Black Hills," he told the Tribune in the April 30th article cited supra.

The reintroduction of gray wolves into the Rockies about a dozen or so years ago also has impacted negatively upon cougars in that they must now compete with them as well as brown and black bears and coyotes for their share of the deer and rodents which comprise the main staples of their diet.

Bill Heatherly of the Missouri Department of Conservation astutely realizes, however, that there is more than overpopulation at work here and in particular he lays part of the blame on the males' dispersal instinct. "They have to disperse and set up a home range of their own, or when they come of age the dominant male will kill them," he told the Washington Post on April 17th. (See "Young, Restless Cougars Roaming Eastward.")

In practical terms, by the time they reach somewhere between one and two years of age male cougars must set out in order to find their own habitats, food supplies, and mates or be killed by their fathers and other older cats. Since it is estimated that each cat needs a range of at least two-hundred square miles in order to survive, their search for Lebensraum is pushing them farther east.

Since females normally do not need to disperse, the males' search for mates is often in vain. On the positive side, the dispersal instinct markedly reduces the incidence of incest and therefore promotes genetic diversity which ultimately contributes mightily to the health of the species.

Preliminary DNA tests conducted by the United States Forest Service indicate that the cougar shot in Chicago was related to his cousins in the Black Hills. Further examination of radioisotopes left on his claws by the food that he had consumed may eventually make it possible for scientists to determine whether he was actually born in South Dakota or was merely genetically related to the cougars that reside there.

It is, of course, possible, that the cougar was being kept as a pet and either escaped or was deliberately released. That is the explanation favored by Alan Rabinowitz of the Panthera Foundation.

"A mountain lion walking right into the city of Chicago makes about as much sense as you and me walking into a den of rattlesnakes," he told National Geographic in the article cited supra. "Behaviorally, it makes no sense for a big, wild cat."

Although humans and cougars have no more business sharing the same habitat than do lions and humans, a myriad of forces have conspired to place the two groups on a collision course. As the case in Chicago so vividly illustrates, cats invariably lose these battles.

This is in spite of statistics that demonstrate that individuals are more likely to be attacked by dogs than by cougars. For example, since 1890 there have been only one-hundred-eight confirmed attacks on humans by cougars in the United States and of those only twenty were fatal. The fact that fifty of these attacks have occurred since 1991 cannot be taken lightly, however.

On the other hand, humans always have slaughtered cougars with impunity and this trend is only going to increase as capitalists and newcomers continue to push them out of the west and into the crowded east. For example, another cougar's life is in mortal danger after it was sighted in the Chicago suburb of Stickney on April 21st. (See CBS-2, Chicago, April 22, 2008, "Another Possible Cougar Sighting in Chicago.")

Conflicts with humans both in the west as well as in the east already have triggered demands that the cats be culled. In contradistinction to Latin America where hunting cougars is outlawed in all countries except Ecuador, El Salvador, and Guyana, they are legally hunted in all American states with the notable exception of California.

In Illinois, cougars are left unprotected because the Department of Natural Resources does not consider them to be a normal part of the ecosystem. Besides the patented absurdity of such a designation, it conveniently overlooks the fact that the reason the cats are now so rare is because the people of Illinois killed all of them during the nineteenth century. Wildlife officials in Illinois quite obviously play as fast and loose with the truth as does the National Audubon Society and the diabolical American Bird Conservancy.

Hunting is usually conducted with packs of bloodhounds who chase the cats up trees where they are then shot at close range by hunters. More akin to planned executions than to any known sport, the behavior of hunters is on a par with that of the Chicago Police.

In 1994, voters in Oregon banned the use of dogs but the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife responded by lengthening the hunting season and drastically reducing the price of licenses to hunt cougars from $51 to $11.50. (See Humane Society of the United States, April 6, 2006, "Oregon's Cougar Management Plan: A Scientific and Political Nightmare" and Baker City Herald, November 9, 2006, "Cougars: Hunters See More Success.")

Although cougars have been known to live for up to twenty years in captivity, in the wild they usually have a life expectancy of only eight to ten years and this only includes those that survive infancy. Females only give birth once every two to three years and out of the trio or so kittens that they give birth to only one normally survives.

In addition to predation by older males, wolves, bears, and hunters, the cats also succumb to various disabilities, diseases, starvation, and tragic encounters with motorists and locomotive engineers. Wildlife proponents kill some of them by repeatedly trapping them in order to equip them with radio-collars and relocation efforts bring them into deadly conflicts with other cougars.

By way of comparison, the Chicago Police's search and destroy mentality stands in stark contrast to the restraint shown by officers of the Kitigan Zibi Algonquin First Nations' police force in the capture of a runaway Barbary Lion named Boomer on May 1st in Maniwaki, Quebec. (See photo above on the right.)

Instead of going after the seven-month-old, seventy-kilogram male with blazing guns, Officer Chris McConnini lured him to within striking distance by repeatedly calling out his name before grabbing him by the collar. He next tied the lion's legs and wrestled him into the rear of his squad car.

Boomer was then taken to the Kitigan Zibi jail where he spent the night. Neither McConnini nor any other members of the force were harmed in any way during the capture.

"He (McConnini) handled it very calmly and with a whole lot of professionalism," Gordon McGregor, chief of police, told The Canadian Press on May 1st. (See "Boomer the Lion Nabbed after a Day on the Lam in Western Quebec.")

Rising to the occasion, McGregor took it upon himself to make sure that Boomer, who had been on the loose since April 29th, did not go hungry any longer. "They called me at home and I knew the little guy was going to be hungry, so I grabbed three or four of the best steaks in the house then headed for the police station," he told The Ottawa Citizen on May 2nd. (See "Police Find Little Lost Lion Safe, Hungry.")

In addition to treating Boomer humanely, the Kitigan Zibi police did not leave local residents to fend for themselves like the police in Chicago did last month. They instead ordered all schools and day-care centers closed and set up a security perimeter around the search area. Public warnings were issued and a helicopter equipped with a heat-seeking camera was pressed into service.

While there can be no denying that the threat posed by Boomer was significantly lower than that of the cougar, the police in Chicago did not even take into consideration the safety of either the cougar or residents.

As for Boomer, he is now in quarantine at the Granby Zoo, east of Montreal. His owner, Dennis Day of Cobden, Ontario, has promised a legal challenge to regain possession of him. Extinct in the wild for the past one-hundred years or so, there are fewer than one-hundred Barbary Lions in zoos around the world. (See BBC, March 25, 2008, "Tower's Royal Lions 'from Africa'.")

Although the gleeful reaction from the people of Chicago to the killing of the cougar was nothing short of reprehensible, there apparently are a handful of animal sympathizers in the Windy City. This is demonstrated by a makeshift memorial that has been established on the spot where the cat was cruelly gunned down. (See photo above.)

The remembrance consists of an image of the cougar and bears the date of his death and the nickname "Cougey." Also included are a potpourri of candles, a hip flask, wine cooler, beer bottle, candy, a torn Northwestern University Wildcats' jersey, and a wrapped condom. (See WBBM Radio, April 28, 2008, "Possible Suspect in Audubon School Threat.")

The memorial is nothing to write home about but it nonetheless exhibits a level of decency and caring that is beyond the grasp of both the toffs at the Field Museum and wildlife officials working in the field. Failing to recognize any intrinsic value in the cats or anything morally wrong with killing them, they instead look upon them as merely a commodity to be manipulated at will for profit, fame, and the thrill of domination.

Photos: Candice C. Cusic of the Chicago Tribune (dead cougar and celebration by the hoi polloi), Scott Strazzante of the Chicago Tribune (pelt), CBC (Boomer), and WBBM (memorial).