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Cat Defender

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

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cal State Long Beach Is Using the Presence of Coyotes as a Pretext in Order to Get Rid of Its Feral Cats

"They are spayed and neutered. Why would you kill perfectly healthy cats just to save two coyotes?"
-- Leslie Abrahams

The long awaited showdown between feral cat caretakers and coyote advocates finally has arrived and the sprawling three-hundred-twenty-two-acre campus of California State University in Long Beach (CSULB) is providing the improbable venue.

On July 10th, the administration gave caretakers of the school's approximately one-hundred-fifty cats forty days to remove them. Should they fail to comply, the cat-haters within the administration presumably are prepared to call in their own exterminators to do the job.

In order to demonstrate that it means business, the college has backed up its dispossess edict by sending in a wrecking crew to demolish a feeding station near Earl Warren Drive. Die Sturmtruppen tore down a shed and removed a fence that had provided the cats with their only protection from the coyotes.

In addition to being petty and mean-spirited, this act of unprovoked violence was undertaken in order to inflict as much trauma on both the cats and their caretakers as possible. Moreover, it has necessitated that the caretakers stand vigil at night in order to protect the cats.

Any lingering notion that the intelligentsia are any more reasonable, decent, and humane than garden variety fascists and hoodlums was dispelled by the university's primitive behavior. The administrators also have set a poor example for their thirty-six-thousand students as to how problems are dealt with and disputes resolved. As Rousseau argued in the Emile, one teaches by example.

Ostensibly, CSULB is arguing that the sixteen feeding stations scattered about campus are attracting coyotes who in turn are imperiling the safety of children and infants who attend day-care and summer youth camps. So far, the coyotes have not attacked any children or adults; they have, however, eaten at least seven cats.

For those familiar with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's (PA) roundup and extermination of the cats at JFK, the university's warped logic has a familiar ring to it. In that instance, the PA vociferously argued that feeding the cats was attracting birds which in turn were jeopardizing the safety of incoming and departing jets.

What the PA neglected to inform the public is that the airport is situated on the periphery of a wildlife reserve that teems with birds. Nevertheless, the ruse has proven itself to be sufficiently plausible in order to cost the cats their lives. (See Cat Defender post of November 5, 2007 entitled "Port Authority Gives JFK's Long-Term Resident Felines the Boot and Rescue Groups Are Too Impotent to Save Them.")

"The reason to do this is to protect the campus community, first and foremost," Toni Beron of the university's department of agitprop swore to the Long Beach Press-Telegram on July 11th. (See "Curbing Campus Wildlife.")

It was however Beron's outright dismissal of the idea of giving the coyotes the bum's rush that revealed her true prejudices. "I would say the long-term solution is that we need to address the issue of the feral cat situation on campus," she told the Press-Telegram.

C'est-a-dire, the school has been wanting to get rid of the cats for a long time and now, thanks to the presence of the coyotes, it has found a convenient rationale in order to justify its dirty work. Since the felines and their ancestors have been an integral part of the college since its inception in 1949, the proper course of conduct for the administrators would be to provide them with protection from the coyotes and allow them to remain.

After all, the school has a large, highly-paid contingent of police officers with time on their hands. Instead of goofing off all day and night and making time with the coeds they could be put to work guarding the cats and children.

The university has, after all, gotten a free ride for the past half-century in that the cats are cared for by an army of volunteers from the community and student body who pay for their food, water, shelter, inoculations, and sterilizations. The cheapskates at CSULB have never spent a lousy nickel on them.

The university's edict has placed both the cats and their dedicated caretakers in a no-win situation because relocating feral cats is both expensive and difficult. First of all, a new habitat must be procured for them and they need to be confined in some manner for at least a month before they can be released. Otherwise they will attempt to return to their old haunts.

Homes for feral cats are few and far between and shelters are already chock-full of domestic cats on death row. Consequently, just about all of the cats removed from CSULB will be killed.

The general public might have some interest in adopting the Siamese, Russian Blues, and Himalayans but that is about all. It is even doubtful that barns could be procured for the remainder.

"Cal State Long Beach has put an execution order out on these cats, basically," Leslie Abrahams, who has been feeding them for the past twenty years, summed up the dire situation in a nutshell for the Press-Telegram in the article cited supra. (See photo at the top of the page of her standing guard at one of the cats' feeding stations.)

On that point, Beron is only too happy to agree. "And in these circumstances, there is a high likelihood that there would be euthanization because there isn't a place for them," she told the Press-Telegram.

Abrahams is not quite ready to throw in the towel, however. "I'll chain myself to the kitties if I have to," she told the Press-Telegram on July 13th. (See "Their Cause Is for the Paws.") "They're not going to kill our kitties."

Equally determined to save the cats is caretaker Dorothy Burstein. "I don't want to give it up," she told Fox-11 News of Los Angeles on July 12th. (See "Time's Up for Feral Cats on Cal State Long Beach Campus?") "It means too much."

Toward that end, a rally attended by more than two dozen of the cats' supporters was held on campus on July 13th. (See photo above of demonstrator Lucinda Anskin.) The caretakers also have retained local attorney Henry Salcido in order to seek a court injunction if necessary to prevent the school from killing the cats.

Not surprisingly, the university is being backed up in its efforts to get rid of the cats by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) which has erroneously advised it that the coyotes will pack their bags and vacate the premises as soon as the cats are removed. "Don't give them a reason to want to be in your neighborhood," Steve Martarano, a spokesman for the agency, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel on July 24th. (See "Local Coyote Problems Lack Easy Answers.") "They'll move on. They'll find their own food source."

Abrahams scoffs at such silliness. "Coyotes are all over the neighborhood," she told the Los Angeles Times on Bastille Day. (See "Turf Battle at Cal State Long Beach Pits Cats Against Coyotes.")

Moreover, the injustice inherent in the university's misguided directive has her incensed. "They (the cats) are spayed and neutered. Why would you kill perfectly healthy cats just to save two coyotes?" she complained to the Velvet Coffin in the article cited supra.

Even Duke Rescola, an editorial writer with the student newspaper, is astute enough to see through the CDFG's lies. "Cats are not the campus's only available food source for coyotes," he wrote in the July 16th edition of the Daily 49er. (See "Coyotes, Cats, Children Could Benefit from Grownup Campus Decision Making.")

"The campus is rife with squirrels, raccoons, opossums, birds, and open trash cans -- all are part of coyote diet," he went on to say. "Removing the cats will not remove coyotes, nor will exposing the cats to other predation."

Like any sensible person, Bill Dyer of In Defense of Animals knows what should be done. "If they're concerned about the safety of people, get rid of the coyotes," he told the Los Angeles Times.

Gregory Castle of Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah concurs. "Cats always seem to get the blame. If there truly is a danger to children from coyotes, why not just remove the coyotes?" he wrote in the July 19th edition of the Press-Telegram. (See "Feral Cats Aren't the Real Problems.")

"Humane trapping and relocating the coyotes far from human activity is a normal and customary way to handle a situation when the very different worlds of wildlife and humans collide," he continued. "If a bear wandered onto the campus would the university still advocate cat removal?"

He is not, however, convinced that coyotes are a threat to children and cites statistics compiled by the CDFG which show that on the average the carnivores bite only one person per year in California. That is in marked distinction to the three-million children that are bitten by dogs each year nationwide.

Nevertheless, several children were bitten by coyotes earlier this year in the Inland Empire (Riverside, San Bernardino, etc.) and these types of attacks are bound to increase in frequency as interaction between the two groups grows. (See Cat Defender post of December 4, 2007 entitled "Grieving Widow Risks Her Life in Order to Save Cosmo from the Jaws of a Hungry Coyote in Thousand Oaks.")

Relocating coyotes is, however, every bit as problematic as relocating cats. First of all, they do not have anywhere to go since much of their natural habitat has been destroyed by ranchers, farmers, and developers. Natural disasters, such as wildfires and mudslides, have taken their toll on the species as have eradication campaigns mounted by wildlife officials.

For instance, in 2006 Wildlife Services, a division of the USDA, spent a staggering $108 million in order to kill 1.6 million wild animals. Included in the carnage were eighty-seven-thousand coyotes.

"We have one arm of the federal government trying to protect wildlife while a different arm is doing its best to eradicate the same animals," Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) said in an October 25, 2007 press release. (See "Federal Government Killing Record Number of Carnivores.") "How much sense does that make?"

Despite having blood all over their filthy hands, it goes almost without saying that wildlife biologists are tickled pink not only that CSULB has decided to give the felines the boot but, more importantly, that coyotes are killing them with impunity.

"As far as feral cats are concerned, coyotes are doing us a favor," Carl Lackey, a wildlife biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, told the Reno Gazette-Journal on December 28, 2007. (See "Area Sees Spike in Coyote Sightings.") "Feral cats are the biggest predators of songbirds in the state. It's a big problem."

Lackey's colleague with CDFG, Don Richardson, likewise puts all the blame on cats and their caretakers. "In San Francisco you have people who go out and feed feral cats living in the park. That is one of the absolute worst things you can do," he told the San Francisco Chronicle on July 22, 2007. (See "Coyotes Commonly Under Foot in Cities.") "To a coyote, they end up having a huge population of feral cats to eat and if they don't catch the cats, they can go and eat the food people leave for the cats."

Although the CDFG has a hands-off policy when it comes to coyote attacks on cats, it readily exterminates those that attack dogs and humans. For instance, on July 15th of last year it shot and killed two coyotes in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park after they had accosted dogs being walked on leashes. (See Cat Defender post of August 28, 2007 entitled "TNR Programs, Domestic Cats, Dogs, and Humans Imperiled by Wildlife Proponents' Use and Abuse of Coyotes and Fishers.")

Perhaps more significantly, Richardson neglects to mention that individuals were feeding the coyotes in Golden Gate Park and that is almost certain to occur at CSULB as well. In fact, Tim Grobaty, an ailurophobic columnist for the Press-Telegram, stated on July 23rd that he was contemplating doing just that. (See "Cats Versus Coyotes on Campus.")

Washington State has an almost identical policy to that of California although its appears to be based in part on stinginess. "Our policy call is not to control coyote populations or have the state control coyote populations, otherwise we'd need a staff of five-hundred people," Captain Bill Hebner of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) told King5-TV of Seattle on September 21, 2006. (See "Coyotes Observed to Get Bolder.")

Of course, after two children were bitten by the animals in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue in April of 2006 the WDFW immediately hunted down and killed a pair of coyotes. That was in spite of the fact that officials were not even certain that they were the ones involved in the attacks. (See Cat Defender post of October 2, 2006 entitled "Coyotes, Cheered on by Wildlife Officials, Join Raccoons in Killing Cats and Dogs in Washington State.")

"From a public policy standpoint, coyotes are not going away and we need to learn how to live with them," Hebner pontificated to The Herald of Everett on September 18, 2006. (See "Coyotes Growing Bolder.") If that is indeed his department's policy, it should be applied across the board and dog-owners and parents with small children also should be forced to live with coyote attacks just as is the case with cat-owners and caretakers.

More importantly, if wildlife biologists expect cat owners to accept the presence of coyotes in their back yards, parks, city streets, and on college campuses they should be willing to accept feral cats as well. The fact that they are totally unwilling to reciprocate proves that their grand design is to kill cats and that coyotes are merely one of their modi operandi.

Jim Nelson, a wildlife professor at Unity College in Maine wants all feral cats to be rounded up and killed on the spot. (See Morning Sentinel of Waterville, May 26, 2008, "Feral Cats Dangerous to Endangered Species.")

Brian Barton, a park ranger and bird-lover employed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation in Lake Tahoe, wholeheartedly agrees. (See Record Searchlight of Redding, March 23, 2008, "Are Cat Colonies a Legal and Ethical Part of Nature?")

So, too, does Fred Gehlbach, a biology professor emeritus at Baylor, who admits to hunting and trapping feral cats. (See Waco Tribune-Herald, July 2, 2007, "Release Feral Cats? Good Grief.")

In one breath, old Gehlbach declares that "sound science" gives him an unconditional right to kill cats. Based upon such morally vapid logic, the mere possession of a gun would give anyone the right to commit an untold number of homicides just so long as he or she could produce one so-called scientific paper, no matter how contrived, in support of their position.

When it comes, however, to the difficult task of distinguishing between feral and domestic cats Gehlbach utters the thoroughly unscientific non sequitur: "I know the look." It is a good thing that he is now semi-retired otherwise he would be either laughed off campus or committed to an asylum.

One of the most notorious cat-haters ever to goose step through this wicked old world is Michael Hutchins of The Wildlife Society (TWS). On July 25th, he released a press release fully endorsing a plan by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Navy to slaughter two-hundred cats on San Nicolas Island. (See Cat Defender posts of June 27, 2008 and July 10, 2008 entitled, respectively, "United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navy Hatch a Diabolical Plan to Gun Down Two-Hundred Cats on San Nicolas Island" and "The Ventura County Star Races to the Defense of the Cat-Killers on San Nicolas Island.")

In fact, if Hutchins were ever allowed to have his way, there would not be a cat left living on the planet. "TWS has a history supporting and encouraging the humane elimination of feral cat colonies and has consistently opposed the establishment of managed feral colonies, the public feeding of feral cats, especially on public lands, and release of unwanted pet or feral cats into the wild," the release states. (See "The Wildlife Society Supports Removal of Feral Cats from San Nicolas Island.")

Earlier on July 16th, this latter-day Hitlerite released a broadside in support of the National Park Service's (NPS) plan to exterminate axis and fallow deer living at the Point Reyes National Seashore park in Marin County, California. (See "The Wildlife Society Supports National Park Service's Non-Native Deer Management at Point Reyes National Seashore.")

He also has dismissed opposition from the Humane Society of United States as being based upon "emotion" whereas NPS' plan is allegedly based on "science." Since he goes out of his way to make doubly certain that everyone knows that he has a Ph.D., Hutchins is acutely aware that outside of a laboratory there is not any such thing as science per se. Even then the findings of such experiments are dependent upon the integrity and competence of the scientist conducting them.

What Hutchins and his fellow wackos within the wildlife lobby are attempting to fob off on the public are their own hatreds and prejudices thinly disguised as science. Besides, scurrilous missives sent to undiscriminating newspaper editors and hackneyed press releases are hardly what one would expect of supposedly highly educated individuals. In fact, any halfwit can dash off an "I hate cats" letter.

More to the point, science is only a tool which can be either used or misused. It should never be allowed, however, to trump either morality or politics. Even in Francis Bacon's scientific utopia of Bensalem, depicted in his book The New Atlantis, science is kept under strict political control.

Quite obviously, anyone capable of penning such hate-filled diatribes and taking the morally repulsive public positions that Hutchins does has gone completely off the rails and is totally beyond redemption. Moreover, he is living proof that any moral degenerate and imbecile can finagle a doctorate out of the corrupt-as-hell universities.

As far as it is known, statistics are not kept as to the number of cats that are eaten by coyotes each year. Moreover, the task of compiling such numbers has been compounded by the introduction of fishers to the northeast by wildlife biologists with the explicit purpose of having them prey upon cats. (See Cat Defender post of July 19, 2007 entitled "Up to Their Old Tricks, Wildlife Officials Reintroduce Fishers to the Northeast to Prey Upon Cats and to Provide Income for Fur Traffickers.")

Owls, eagles, hawks, and other birds of prey also kill their share of cats and kittens. (See Cat Defender post of July 31, 2006 entitled "Fifteen-Year-Old Cat Named Bamboo Miraculously Survives Being Abducted and Mauled by a Hoot Owl in British Columbia.")

Based upon press reports and other anecdotal evidence, however, the number of cats eaten each year by coyotes in the United States must be in the thousands. The hardest hit areas appear to be the West Coast plus the states of Texas and Massachusetts. Cats are sans doute being killed elsewhere but the capitalist media apparently cannot be bothered with even recording their deaths.

Coyotes also are killing cats en masse in Alberta and British Columbia. (See photo above of a coyote strolling through Port Coquitlam with a cat in its mouth on March 1st.)

As for the situation at CSULB, it is too bad that administrators are incapable of following the sterling examples set by Hofstra and Stanford. (See photo above of one of Stanford's cats.) On the Palo Alto campus, an ambitious TNR program has reduced that school's feral cat population from five-hundred to a few dozen. (See The Stanford Daily, July 24, 2008, "Cat Network Helps Stanford Strays.")

Instead CSULB has chosen to emulate the cat-killers at Central Michigan and Eastern universities. (See Cat Defender posts of September 11, 2006 and February 12, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Selfish and Brutal Eggheads at Central Michigan University Target Colony of Feral Cats for Defamation and Eradication" and "God-Fearing Baptists at Eastern University Kill Off Their Feral Cats on the Sly while Students Are Away on Christmas Break.")

The dilemma facing the cats' caretakers at Cal State Long Beach is two-fold. They must first of all find the political and legal resources in order to force the school to rescind its eviction edict.

In fact, the Press-Telegram reported on July 30th that the administration already is considering allowing some of the cats to remain but to restrict their feeding times. (See "CSULB Abandons Plan to Remove Feral Cats.") The details of this compromise have not been finalized and the school still insists that it will make the final call regardless of the wishes of the cats' caretakers.

Should it ultimately prove impossible for the cats to remain at CSULB, the caretakers must then play for time so as to save as many cats as possible. Relocating and finding homes for one-hundred-fifty cats is a daunting task and it is thoroughly unreasonable for the school to have given them only forty days to do so.

Furthermore, it certainly is not any coincidence that the college wants to be shed of both its cats and their caretakers before the students return in September. Although a number of them already have ponied up for the Fall Semester, organizing a tuition strike would be worth a try.

Like Gates, Buffet, and Mr. Goldfinger, the administrators and toffs at CSULB love only money. Take it away and they start behaving like junkies going through withdrawal.

In the meantime, it is incumbent upon the caretakers to provide the cats with around-the-clock protection from the coyotes. Admittedly, that is asking a lot of dedicated cat-lovers like Abrahams who already spend thousands of dollars per year of their own money on the cats but it nonetheless must be done.

Cats have a myriad of enemies in both high and low places and therefore must be protected. The deplorable situation at CSULB is just another cross that cat-lovers must bear.

Photos: Diandra Jay of the Press-Telegram (Abrahams and Anskin), Andrea Wiebe (coyote), and Stanford Cat Network (campus cat).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Red Panda That Was Rejected by Her Mother but Later Adopted by a Cat Dies Unexpectedly at an Amsterdam Zoo

"As far as we know, this was the first time that a cat has adopted a baby panda."
-- Artis Royal Zoo spokesperson

Some things are just too good to last.

On June 30th, an adult red panda named Gladys gave birth to a pair of cubs at the Artis Royal Zoo in Amsterdam. Tragically, she rejected both of them shortly after birth.

"She left them there, lying in the cold," zoo spokesman Bart Kret told Die Welt on July 11th. (See "House Cat Adopts Baby Panda.")

At first the cubs were placed in an incubator but later they were given to a zookeeper's cat that had given birth to four kittens on June 27th. Magnanimously, the cat accepted them as her own.

Sadly, one of the cubs died on July 3rd and the zoo has not provided any explanation for its death other than to state that it was too weak to live. The remaining cub appeared to be progressing well until her lifeless body was discovered on July 17th. (See photo above of her with her surrogate mother.)

A necropsy revealed that her trachea was full of milk and that she had choked to death. No further explanation has been advanced as to how this could have occurred or how common such deaths are with newborns. A video of the cat nursing the panda is available on the zoo's website at www.artis.nl.

It is conceivable that there could have been something in the cat's milk that did not agree with the panda's digestive system. A more likely explanation is that in competing with the kittens she drank too fast and suffocated.

Whatever the reason, it is a sad ending to a heartwarming and unique story. "As far as we know, this was the first time that a cat has adopted a baby panda," a spokesperson for the zoo told Agence France Presse on July 21st. (See "Cat-Adopted Panda Dies.")

Officials at the zoo had planned for the panda to remain with the cat for about three months. After that, she was to have been put on a diet of bamboo and fruit.

Although there is not a great deal known about it, cross-species nurturing is not uncommon. Earlier this year, a cat living outside of Amman, Jordan adopted five baby chickens after their mother had been killed by a dog. (See Cat Defender post of May 22, 2008 entitled "Strange Bedfellows: Colorado Cat Named Gizmo and a Turtle Named Shelly Become the Best of Friends.")

It also is fairly common for dogs to care for kittens and for cats to nurse puppies. (See Cat Defender posts of October 15, 2005 and July 17, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Elsa, a Rottweiler Feared in the 'Hood, Shows Her Soft Spot by Adopting an Abandoned Kitten" and "Dachshund Named Emma Adopts Quintet of Feral Kittens That Her Mistress Cruelly Stole from Their Mother.")

On its website, Artis states that it expects Gladys and her mate, Werner, to produce another litter of red pandas in the near future. That is not necessarily good news in that Gladys once again could shun her cubs.

The tragic deaths of these two pandas has once again rekindled the simmering debate over both the viability and desirability of captive breeding programs. (See Cat Defender post of June 23, 2008 entitled "Amur Leopards Continue to Slide Towards Extinction as Conservationists Toy with a Controversial Captive Breeding and Rewilding Initiative.")

Nonetheless, hundreds if not indeed thousands of red pandas are kept at zoos around the world. Specifically, Padmaja Naida Himalayan Zoological Park in Darjeeling, India and Valley Zoo in Edmonton operate successful red panda breeding programs.

Native to the Himalayan regions of China, India, Bhutan, Laos, Nepal, and Myanmar, red pandas are listed as endangered by the IUCN with there being perhaps no more than twenty-five-hundred of them remaining in the wild. Although habitat loss and fragmentation caused by deforestation, farming, and ranching is the main reason for their decline, trafficking in their pelts by the Chinese, predation by snow leopards and martens, and their specialized diet of primarily bamboo also are contributing factors.

They additionally have a low-birth rate coupled with a high-mortality rate which is a deadly combination for any species. Isolation caused by habitat fragmentation is leading to inbreeding which is diminishing their available gene pool and further weakening the species.

Contrary to both name and appearance, red pandas (Ailurus fulgens) are not bears. They instead are classified as belonging to their own taxonomical family, Ailuridae, which is part of the superfamily Musteloidea that includes raccoons, skunks, and weasels.

It therefore is not surprising that they are often mistaken for raccoons as has been the case with Shifu, the kung fu master, featured in Dreamworks' recently released animated film, Kung Fu Panda.

Solitary, crepuscular, and immaculate, they hunt at night and sleep during the day. In the wild they have a life expectancy of only eight to ten years; behind bars, they live longer but it is a mean existence. (See photo above of a red panda at Aachener Tierpark.)

As for the zookeeper's cat, both she and her kittens are said to be doing well. The presence of an unaltered female cat at a zoo is a reason for concern, however. (See Cat Defender post of June 30, 2008 entitled "Berlin Zoo Reunites Old Friends Muschi and Mauschen after a Brief Enforced Separation.")

Most likely, Artis Royal Zoo is breeding cats for their milk and plasma. After all, it is common practice for even veterinarians to keep office cats as blood donors. Far more sinister motivations are, however, a distinct possibility.

Strangely enough, almost nothing has been written on this subject and that needs to change. Above all, an inquiry needs to be undertaken in order to ascertain not only the conditions under which these so-called office cats are kept, but how they are exploited and abused.

At the Linton Zoo in Cambridgeshire, for example, a former stray named Arnie has been assigned the perilous task of looking after a six-week-old lioness named Zara. (See photo above.)

Rejected by her mother, Safina, the cub was taken home by the zoo's director, Kim Simmons, who has been bottle-feeding her. (See photo below.)

"We only hand-feed the cubs if it is absolutely necessary, but this was Safina's first baby and she couldn't feed her due to her age and inexperience," Simmons told the Daily Mail on July 7th. (See "Zara the Lion Cub and Arnie the House Cat Make a Purrfect Couple.") "She lives in the house and is bottle-fed by us daily. She's got an absolutely wonderful personality and is very laid back and affectionate."

The ginger tom and the lioness immediately took a liking to each other and often can be seen playing together and snuggling. Arnie also has been known to help wash and groom Zara.

Zara, however, is growing up fast and this has placed Arnie's life in jeopardy. "Arnie the cat loves having cubs in the house and the two are great friends, but we'll have to guard him as Zara gets bigger and stronger," Simmons confessed to the Daily Mail in the article cited supra.

Given that admission, it is vitally important that an investigation be launched into how many cats have been either killed or injured by lions kept at Simmons' residence. It is bad enough that zoos abuse wild animals but they should not be allowed to include domestic cats in their machinations.

If he is able to stay out of harm's way for a little bit longer, Arnie may emerge from this experiment unscathed in that Zara soon will be relocated to the Ugandan Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) in Entebbe. Opened in 1952 by the English colonialists, the facility rescues and rehabilitates animals in addition to operating a captive breeding program.

Although the UWEC claims on its website that it does not capture or purchase animals in order to exhibit them to the public, that is a meaningless declaration in that it does not have to engage in such activities because governmental agencies, animal welfare groups, and concerned citizens do its dirty work for it.

More to the point, the Linton Zoo, which houses four other lions in addition to Zara, has been keeping lions since it opened in 1972 and it must be getting them from somewhere since they are not known to roam the English countryside. The same can be said for the Amur Tigers, zebras, panthers, snow leopards, and exotic reptiles, tortoises, and birds imprisoned at the facility.

"Unfortunately many people don't realize or care what extinction really means -- but we do," Simmons chastises the public on the zoo's website. "Captive breeding programs for as many species as possible, including those not directly under threat at the present time, will ensure a safeguard against extinction."

Individuals who imprison animals in zoos and run captive breeding programs must be delusional if they believe such sophistry. Zoos may be able to technically keep species alive, but animals behind bars are poor replicas of their cousins in the wild.

Besides, as the examples of red pandas at Artis and the lions at Linton have demonstrated, some animals raised in captivity have difficulties not only reproducing but even with nurturing their offspring. Rewilding efforts are even more problematic.

Since there is not any mention of a rewilding program at UWEC, Zara is destined to spend the remainder of her life in a zoo. This dismal prospect does not faze Simmons the least little bit, however.

"As long as she's going to a good home with a good quality of life, I have to be happy," Simmons told the Daily Mail. "I'll find it a struggle to part with her but I know she will never forget me."

In uttering those maudlin sentiments, Simmons unwittingly has revealed all that is wrong with zoos and captive breeding programs. "The animals of the world exist for their own reasons," Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker once wrote. "They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men."

It is inconceivable that if the animals ever were given the choice that they would choose to be willing pawns in the life and death chess matches that zoo directors and wildlife biologists insist upon putting them through. Caught up in a web of intrigue that begins with their forcible removal from their natural habitats and subsequent exile at zoos in faraway lands, they are then imprisoned for life as glorified studs and brood mares.

Life does not get any better for their offspring who are either sold to other zoos around the globe or reintroduced to habitats that they are ill-equipped to survive in let alone flourish and propagate.

The obscene amounts of money and expertise that are devoted to electronically monitoring the animals, stocking zoos, and operating captive breeding programs would be far better spent protecting wildlife in their natural habitats. Of course, such a scheme would deprive conservationists of the ego titillation that they derive from playing God and that will never do.

Moreover, the dominant position that zoos and captive breeding programs occupy in wildlife conservation represents a tacit admission that saving natural habitats is a lost cause. If that is indeed the case, man is surely doomed to follow the animals down the road to extinction.

Given the rapidly deteriorating state of the natural world, it would be foolhardy to completely discount the role that zoos and captive breeding programs have to play in conservation but theirs clearly is a secondary one when compared to the much more important task of saving those animals that remain in the wild. What is needed is a shift in priorities but that apparently is not about to happen.

For instance, officials at Linton Zoo already are eagerly awaiting the arrival in October of a second litter of cubs from Safina and her mate, Zuri.

Photos: Deutsche Presse-Agentur (red panda and domestic cat), Brunswyk of Wikipedia (red panda), Sky News (Zara and Arnie), and Mason's News Service (Simmons and Zara).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Janosch Survives Being Sent Through the Post from Bayern to the Rhineland

"Du, ich habe deine Katze verschickt."
-- Manuela Lueginger

A one-year-old black cat named Janosch from Rottach-Egern in Bayern recently found out the hard way that a shipping crate is not necessarily the best place to take an impromptu snooze.

While visiting the house of his neighbor, Manuela Leuginger, he crawled into a crate containing a child's seat that she had recently sold on eBay. Not realizing that she had a stowaway inside, Leuginger sealed the package and took it to the post office. (See photo photo below.)

Twenty-four-hours and seven-hundred-seventeen kilometers later, the package arrived at the post office in the Rhineland city of Dorsten. An alert employee noticed that it was moving and freed a forever grateful Janosch who was not any worse for the wear despite some rather anxious moments.

The post office informed Lueginger who in turn broke the news to Janosch's owner, forty-four-year-old Gitti Rauch. "Du, ich habe deine Katze verschickt," she is quoted by the Suddeutschen Zeitung of Munchen on July 10th as saying. (See "Du, ich habe deine Katze verschickt!")

Because it is not unusual for Janosch to stay away from home for days at a time, Rauch was not even aware that anything was amiss with him. Tatsachlich, she did not a first believe Lueginger. "Wenn sie nicht gerade schwanger ware, hatte ich gedacht, sie ist betrunken," she confessed to the Suddeutschen Zeitung.

Unfortunately for Rauch, locating Janosch was only the beginning of her travails. Due to the demands of her job as a waitress, she was unable to drop everything in order to immediately go and collect him so the post office turned him over to a shelter in Dorsten where he remained for the next twenty-seven days.

This led to many sleepless nights for both her and Janosch. In particular, she was frequently on the telephone reminding shelter officials not to give away her cat.

Once she was finally able to make it to Dorsten, retrieving Janosch cost her $440 in shelter fees and train fare. "Du bist eine teure Katze," she is quoted by Bild on July 10th as telling Janosch upon their reunion. (See "Kater Janosch als eBay Paket Verschickt.")

Despite the dent in her wallet, Rauch is not crying like a stuck pig. "Aber das war's mir wert, wir sind froh, dass er wieder da ist," she told the Miesbacher Merkur on July 8th. (See "Die Abenteuerliche Reise von Kater Janosch.")

Nor was she surprised that her easygoing cat got trapped inside the shipping crate. "Diese Katze war schon immer etwas speziell, sie fahrt gern Auto, mag Kisten und beschwert sich nie," she told the Miesbacher Merkur.

True to his gentlemanly nature, Janosch neither damaged the child's seat nor fouled the box during his long enforced confinement.

Having apparently learned his lesson, Janosch is said to be staying close to the home fires these days. "Er ist so dankbar, will nur noch bei mir sein und gestreichelt werden," Rauch told Bild in the article cited supra.

The fact that she is making sure that he gets plenty of his favorite dish, Wiener Wurstchen, also could have something to do with his newfound contentedness. (See photo above of the happy pair.)

Because of their diminutive stature and tendency to hide whenever there is considerable hustle and bustle going on around them, especially when boxes and furniture are being moved, cats quite often unwittingly wind up in all sorts of untenable predicaments. For example, a cat named Neo had an experience similar to Janosch's two years ago. (See Cat Defender post of November 6, 2006 entitled "Trapped in a Moving Van for Five Days, Texas Cat Named Neo Is Finally Freed in Colorado.")

Cats such as Emily, China, and Spice have been forced to endure excruciatingly long sea voyages after becoming trapped inside shipping crates. (See Cat Defender posts of December 9, 2005, May 17, 2006, and July 16, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Adventurous Wisconsin Cat Named Emily Makes Unscheduled Trip to France in Hold of Cargo Ship," "North Carolina Shelter Plotting to Kill Cat That Survived Being Trapped for Thirty-Five Days in Cargo Hold of Ship from China," and "Accidentally Trapped in a Shipping Crate, Calico Cat Named Spice Survives Nineteen-Day Sea Voyage from Hawaii to San Bernardino.")

For every cat that survives such grueling experiences, countless others die agonizingly slow deaths either in their makeshift tombs or shortly after they are rescued. (See Cat Defender posts of March 21, 2008 and April 25, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Malli Survives a Thirty-Two-Day Voyage from Johor Bahru to Cleveland Trapped Inside a Shipping Crate" and "After Surviving a Lengthy and Hellish Confinement at Sea, Malli Dies Unexpectedly in Foster Care.")

Cats even can become unwittingly trapped inside both storage sheds and the walls of houses and businesses. (See Cat Defender posts of January 23, 2008 and April 20, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Emmy Survives Being Locked in an Outdoor Storage Shed for Nine Weeks Without Either Food or Water" and "Molly Is Finally Rescued After Spending Two Weeks Trapped Inside the Walls of an English Deli in Greenwich Village.")

It is therefore clear from all of these examples that both cat-owners and the business community have a duty to double-check all shipping crates, storage facilities, and modes of conveyance before sealing them. Not only will such a precaution save innumerable lives, but it also will spare all concerned considerable expense and angst.

Rauch is indeed fortunate that Janosch was neither injured by the post office nor sickened by unhygienic conditions at the shelter. More disturbingly, he easily could have been mistakenly killed by one of the attendants.

Sometimes it also is difficult to retrieve animals once shelters get their hands on them. That is the sad fate that has befallen Hamilton, New Jersey, resident Sheila Berg.

Dying of cancer, she surrendered her three cats to Tabby's Place, a feline sanctuary in East Amwell, on October 1st of last year. She also turned over $30,000 for their care.

Her health has since taken a miraculous turn for the better but Tabby's Place is steadfastly refusing to return her eleven-year-old black cat, Onyx. This is in spite of the fact that she has offered not only to pay an adoption fee but to allow the sanctuary to keep the $30,000 in toto. As far as her other cats are concerned, one of them has since died while the third one has been adopted by an employee of the sanctuary.

"I feel like I really goofed with them," she told The Times of Trenton on June 13th. (See "Suing Shelter, All Woman Wants Is Her Cat Back.") "It's not fair. I don't understand. There's nothing I can do but fight for him (Onyx)."

Toward that end, she has filed a lawsuit against Tabby's Place which will be heard by Maria Sypek, presiding Chancery Court judge for Mercer County. In the interim, lawyers for Berg and Tabby's Place have reached an agreement that prevents the sanctuary from adopting out Onyx until the case is settled.

"It's horrible," Berg's lawyer, Corey E. Ahart, told The Times in the article cited supra. "All she wants is her cat back and they won't give it to her. They say they don't think she can take care of the cat because of her fight against cancer. We've provided them with a doctor's note saying she can take care of the cat and they said that's not good enough."

Photos: Theo Klein of Bild.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Trio of Laughing Yobs Board HMS Belfast and Hurl Kilo to His Death in the Thames

"It's no good people saying it was only a cat. He was our cat."
-- Brad King of HMS Belfast

Rescued from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home by naval recruits, Kilo only had been on his new job as mascot and head mouser of HMS Belfast for less than a year but he already had become a favorite of both the crew and the more than a quarter of a million paying tourists who annually visit the museum ship. (See photos above and below.)

He undoubtedly would have gone on and had many more happy and productive years if not for a chance encounter with three yobs at 6 a.m. on February 9th. That is when one of the trio of laughing miscreants picked up the unsuspecting moggy and hurled him overboard to his death in the Thames.

Kilo's body never has been recovered and no arrests have been made in the case. This is in spite of the fact that this horrific act of animal cruelty was not only witnessed by night watchmen but also captured on film by surveillance cameras.

Identification and apprehension of the perpetrators has been made difficult because at least one of them was wearing a hood. The Southwark Police, who are handling the investigation, nonetheless are said to be looking for two teenage girls and one teenage boy. In particular, a girl named Jessica is believed to be the one responsible for drowning Kilo.

"We have handed over our CCTV pictures and witness statements to the police because we want them to try and catch those responsible," Brad King, head of operations for HMS Belfast, told The Sun on July 1st. (See "Respect for Life Should Start with a Ship's Cat.") "It's no good people saying it was only a cat. He was our cat."

With the trail rapidly growing cold, the police last week took the desperate step of releasing a CCTV photograph of the three suspects to the media. (See photo below.)

"The actions of the people responsible for this are truly despicable, and they need to be caught as soon as possible," a police spokesman told the website LondonSE1 on July 9th. (See "Cat Drowned at HMS Belfast: Police Release CCTV Image.")

Although the English have an abiding fondness for cats that is truly commendable, crimes against the species have reached epidemic proportions in recent years with no surcease in sight. (See Cat Defender posts of May 7, 2007 and November 30, 2006 entitled, respectively, "British Punks Are Having a Field Day Maiming Cats with Air Guns but the Peelers Continue to Look the Other Way" and "Yobs Celebrating Guy Fawkes Day Kill Twelve-Year-Old Cat Named Tigger with Fireworks; Cat Named Sid Is Severely Burned.")

To make matters worse, the authorities heretofore have steadfastly refused to take seriously crimes committed against cats. Perhaps it will be different with Kilo but that remains to be seen.

"The UK has really become a very sick, twisted country," the fiery editor of Moggies wrote on the organization's website on May 26th. "If the police do not find those responsible and prosecute them to the full, then justice will certainly have died in this country."

Moreover, Kilo is the second cat that HMS Belfast has lost within a two-month period. A ginger tom named Oscar, who served as Kilo's companion and playmate, went ashore on Christmas Eve and has not been seen since.

Commissioned in 1939, the battle cruiser HMS Belfast saw action in both World War II and the Korean conflict before being retired in 1963. It was converted into a museum in 1971 and is moored on the south side of the Thames between the London and Tower bridges. (See photo above which was shot from the top of the Great Fire of London Monument.)

The ship's motto, pro tanto quid retribuamas, is particularly apt in the case of Kilo. "Kids have got to learn that they cannot go around behaving like this," King told The Sun in the article cited supra. "For Kilo's sake, I want those responsible caught and prosecuted."

That is all well and good but HMS Belfast drastically needs to upgrade its security. If its guards had been on the ball, the yobs never would have gotten on board in the first place and Kilo would still be alive today.

Photos: Moggies (Kilo and suspects) and Adrian Pingstone of Wikipedia (HMS Belfast).

Monday, July 14, 2008

Australian Park Ranger and a Seamstress Team Up to Go into Business as Cat-Killers and Fur Traffickers

"It's cool and soft. Just working with it, it's a nice thin skin to sew on the sewing machine or by hand."
-- Robyn Eades

While the rest of the civilized world is actively working to stamp out the trafficking in feline fur, Australians are enthusiastically embracing this odious practice. On King Island, midway between Melbourne and Tasmania in the Bass Strait, Nigel Burgess and Robyn Eades have teamed up not only to slaughter cats en masse but to line their pockets in the process.

Burgess, a park ranger, uses rotten cheese in order to lure more than one-hundred cats per year into traps where they are then executed with rifle shots to the head. Moreover, he is not overly particular whether his victims are ferals or cherished family members.

"If it has got into my trap and it's a domestic cat, it should not be there," he told London's Daily Telegraph on July 9th. (See "The Grandmother Who Turns Cats into Hats.") "Any cat that gets into my trap will be dealt with. I take the rifle and shoot it in the head."

He then freezes the corpses and delivers them to his partner in crime, sixty-year-old Robyn Eades of Naracoopa, who defrosts, skins, and tans the hides before turning them into hats, purses, rugs, and coat hangers. (See photo above of some of their victims.)

The specialty of the house is a Davey Crockett-style cap that comes complete with a detachable cat's tail. "It's part of the gimmick," Eades giggled to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on May 21st. (See "Making Cat Hats on King Island.")

The capitalist media is conspicuously silent as to what Burgess is getting out of this nefarious arrangement other than the sadistic thrill of killing cats but it is highly unlikely that he is serving as Eades' fur supplier and delivery boy out of the generosity of his black heart. It is probably too much to ask of a lawless state like Australia, but there should be regulations put in place that would make it illegal for park rangers to engage in poaching.

For her part, Eades enjoys her end of the business every bit as much as Burgess glories in dispatching defenseless cats to the devil with his trusty rifle. "It's cool and soft. Just working with it, it's a nice thin skin to sew on the sewing machine or by hand," she told ABC. (See photo below of her busy at work.)

In a May 24th interview with Auckland's New Zealand Herald she even went so far as to liken skinning a cat to changing a baby's nappy. Of course, she was forced to concede that she does not "use a knife...when undressing a baby." (See "Problem with Wild Cats? Turn Them into Hats.")

By her own admission, old moneygrubbing Eades has been playing the killing game for a long time. Before turning her knife on cats, she used to prey upon wallabies until her arthritis prompted her to seek out more pliable hides to divest from their owners.

Although she receives orders from as far away as Siberia, most of Eades' hides are peddled by Sally Marsden who operates King Island's Cultural Center. "Oh, it's a fabulous craftsmanship," she cooed to ABC. (See photo of her at the bottom of the page.)

Neither Marsden, Burgess, or Eades see anything the least bit objectionable with either slaughtering cats or trafficking in their pelts. Aside from the joy that he derives from his murderous rampages, Burgess attempts to justify his crimes by arguing that he is saving birds and other endangered species.

Although Marsden has attempted to excuse her complicity in Burgess' and Eades' crimes on the grounds that the cats are ferals, she is every bit as aware as everyone else that some of the hides that she is trafficking in once belonged to beloved family companions. In reality, she is so greedy that she would say and do almost anything for a lousy buck.

Eades, however, is the real head case. "I feel like I am saving them from their fate," she somehow managed to spit out to the Telegraph without laughing. "They are going to live forever in my creations."

Just as Marsden considers the commercial sale of cat hides to be an integral part of the cultural legacy of King Island, Eades claims to have the full support of her neighbors. "There is no opposition to what I do. The cats are a problem on this island. I am turning the skins into something useful," she crowed to the Telegraph.

She likewise has the unequivocal support of the capitalist media both at home and abroad. For instance, Nick Squires of the New Zealand Herald praised her activities in the article cited supra as an "imaginative solution" to the "plague of cats...threatening native wildlife."

Laura Clout of the Telegraph presented Eades' and Burgess' crimes in a matter-of-fact manner without either criticism or input from cat advocates. Only Felicity Ogilvie of ABC seemed to be even mildly appalled by this senseless slaughter and naked exploitation of cats for profit.

The Australians' total unwillingness to consider any alternative to extermination demonstrates not only their intense hatred for cats but also their reliance upon quick fixes that often backfire with disastrous results. (See Cat Defender post of September 21, 2006 entitled "Aussies' Mass Extermination of Cats Opens the Door for Mice and Rabbits to Wreak Havoc on Macquarie.")

Moreover, their crimes against the feline species neither begin nor end with fur trafficking. For example, wildlife proponent and children's author Kaye Kessing has now joined the Chinese in eating cats. (See Cat Defender post of September 7, 2007 entitled "Australians Renounce Civilization and Revert to Savages with the Introduction of a Grotesque Plan to Get Rid of Cats by Eating Them.")

Whenever the Aussies tire of tracking down and shooting cats they turn to the scientific community to whip up hideous potions for them to use. (See Cat Defender post of August 11, 2005 entitled "Barbaric Australians Come Up with an Ingenious New Poison in Order to Exterminate Cats.")

Even more disturbing, ailurophobes such as Eades and Burgess are not isolated cases. On Chintah Road in Longford, Tasmania, George Mills gunned down fifty cats in June and then proudly displayed their rotting carcasses on his fence.

He has attempted to justify his crimes by arguing that cats are infecting his sheep with toxoplasmosis. Called in the investigate, the good-for-nothing RSPCA gave its wholehearted approval of the slaughter but nevertheless recommended that the corpses be removed because they constituted a public nuisance. (See The Mercury of Hobart, June 15, 2008, "Feral Cat Cull in Clear.") In other words, killing cats is perfectly all right so long as it is done sub silentio.

When it comes to exploiting and killing animals the Australians' crimes against cats are merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Millions of camels, horses, donkeys, pigs, cane toads, red foxes, and goats that were imported by the imperialists and later cruelly abandoned to fend for themselves once their services were no longer needed are currently being systematically poisoned and gunned down by assassins in helicopters. (See Agence France Presse, September 25, 2005, "Millions of Animals Face Death Sentence in Australia.")

Their record in protecting indigenous species is almost as horrific. For instance, close to four million kangaroos are killed each year for food and to control the population. (See The Daily Telegraph of Surry Hills, New South Wales, June 17, 2008, "PETA Plans New Roo Protest.")

Paul McCartney has labeled this year's cull as a "shameful massacre." (See Gigwise of London, June 23, 2008, "Sir Paul McCartney Calls for 'Meat-Free Mondays'.")

Contrary to their propaganda, the Australians care only for a fast buck and the sadistic thrills that they derive from killing animals. Once they have milked them for all that they are worth they are certain to turn on native species with the same level of vengeance that they have shown domestic animals.

Despite the Aussies' atrocious animal rights record, the cat-haters within the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) want to import their methods for use against feral cats on San Nicolas Island and elsewhere. (See Cat Defender posts of June 27, 2008 and and July 10, 2008 entitled, respectively, "United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navy Hatch a Diabolical Plan to Gun Down Two-Hundred Cats on San Nicolas Island" and "The Ventura County Star Races to the Defense of the Cat-Killers on San Nicolas Island.")

Through the diligent work of Alley Cat Allies and other groups, sustained progress has been made over the years in protecting not only the lives of cats but other animals as well. This is only the beginning, however, and much more work remains to be done.

In particular, feline and canine fur is still being sold in both America and Europe despite concerted efforts by animal rights groups to bring those responsible to justice. (See Cat Defender posts of March 1, 2007 and December 15, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Top Retailers and Fashion Designers Are Caught Again Selling Dog Fur but U.S. Officials Continue to Look the Other Way" and "Heather Mills Asks EU to Ban Sale of Cat and Dog Fur; Paul McCartney Calls for Boycott of Chinese Goods and Olympics.")

The American public therefore needs to ruminate long and hard over whether it wants to go forward or to slide backwards into the abyss of animal cruelty by allowing the importation of the thinking and tactics of the barbaric Australians and South Africans. Should the answer to that important question be a resounding no, then the USFWS and all individuals and groups that share its ideology must be strenuously opposed.

Photos: Bancroft Media (pelts and Eades) and Australia Council (Marsden).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Ventura County Star Races to the Defense of the Cat-Killers on San Nicolas Island

"The press, Watson, is a most valuable institution, if you only know how to use it."
-- Sherlock Holmes

As expected, the thousands of letters sent to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in protest against its and the United States Navy's plan to gun down two-hundred cats on San Nicolas Island have fallen upon deaf ears. Au fait, they have only stiffened the resolve of the cat-haters to carry out their heinous crimes. (See Cat Defender post of June 27, 2008 entitled "United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navy Hatch a Diabolical Plan to Gun Down Two-Hundred Cats on San Nicolas Island.")

It also is not surprising that the capitalist media has decided to all but ignore this story. The only news outlet providing coverage is the Ventura County Star of Camarillo and it has never attempted to disguise its prejudices. (See June 5th and June 6th articles entitled, respectively, "Feral Cats May Be Eliminated from San Nicolas Island" and "Biologists Want Island Cats Killed.")

The navy, like all branches of the military, never engages with its critics. Since it has all the weapons of mass destruction and money that any one-hundred nations could ever use, it is largely beyond the reach of both public opinion and political control.

Environmental groups have been attempting for years to convince the federal courts to stop it from killing whales and dolphins but so far they have little to show for their efforts. Although the navy does not need its new high-powered sonar, it is not about to forgo using it just to save the lives of marine mammals.

For their part, the morally-warped minds at the USFWS continue to argue that killing the cats is permissible so long as it is done humanely. Not only is that pure sophistry but the agency has a rather skewed view of what is humane.

For instance, the agency's mouthpiece, Jane Hendron, told the Star on July 5th that tracking down the cats with bloodhounds and then shotgunning them to death was humane because the dogs will not be allowed to eat the cats. (See "Plan to Kill Cats Has Animal Rights Groups Crying.") She furthermore claims that leghold traps can be made humane by adding padding.

That is more self-serving lies and nonsense. Besides, those concessions have been made in order to protect the Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis dickeyi), not the cats. The biologists do not want them to be either injured by the snares or eaten by the dogs. The possible spread of the canine distemper virus to the foxes is another reason for keeping a close rein on the dogs.

Exposure of its machinations, however, has placed USFWS on the defensive and this has prompted it to turn to its buddies at the Star for succor. Always willing to lend a hand whenever there is feline blood to be shed, the Star quickly dredged up old washed-out, gray-haired Grace Smith to tell more lies. (See photo below.)

Although the Star is careful not to disclose her affiliation, it does admit that this hateful old bag has been killing cats on San Nicolas for the past nineteen-years. It also is likely that she has helped to eradicate cats on San Miguel, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara as well.

The Star is so accommodating that it even sent reporter Zeke Barlow with Smith to San Nicolas in order to produce a scurrilous two-minute video that defames cats. Various species of shorebirds, pinnipeds, and the Island Fox are vividly recorded in living color by Barlow while Smith busies herself extolling their virtues.

Images of the death row cats are, however, conspicuously absent from the video because it would be counterproductive for sharpies like Smith and Barlow to allow the public to see their innocent faces. If that were to happen, the public just might get the idea that they also are sentient beings endowed by their creator with an inalienable right to life.

Nonetheless, Smith and Barlow are wagering that out-of-sight will translate into out-of-mind as far as the public is concerned and that will enable them to go right ahead and gun down the cats. If the Star remotely resembled anything approaching an honest newspaper it would allow feline advocacy groups to visit the island and videotape the cats. It would then post their video alongside Smith and Barlow's anti-cat screed and let the viewers decide for themselves who is right and who is wrong.

That is not about to happen, however. As Sherlock Holmes remarked to Dr. Watson in The Adventure of the Six Napoleons, "The press, Watson, is a most valuable institution, if you only know how to use it."

It also is a sure bet that neither Smith nor the Ventura County Star will be on hand in order to videotape the USFWS's assassins as they hound down the cats and then blow out their brains with blasts from their shotguns. The public likewise will never be allowed to see images of terrified cats caught in deadly leghold traps or to hear their plaintive cries for mercy just before the USFWS summarily executes them.

The lowly Ventura County Star also will be conspicuously absent once the wildlife biologists get their filthy hands on the cats' bloody corpses. The public therefore will never see the sadistic joy written all over these monsters' maps as they rip them to shreds in a frantic search for evidence in order to justify their crimes.

Perhaps even more telling, Smith does not have one kind word to say about the cats. In a sickeningly dull monotone that barely disguises her intense hatred for the species, she labels their presence on the island as "unfortunate" and insists that they must be murdered because they are preying upon her precious birds and lizards as well as eating deer mice she wants set aside exclusively for predation by the foxes.

She goes on to describe the cats as "totally feral" and "not subsidized." In making that admission she is unwittingly calling attention to the failure of both the navy and wildlife proponents, such as herself, to provide them with food, water, shelter, inoculations and, if necessary, sterilizations.

The fact that the navy would first of all shanghai the cats and then abandon them to their own devices is in and of itself a flagrant act of animal cruelty for which those responsible should be brought before the altar of justice and punished severely. By defaming and killing them, the USFWS and Smith are only compounding the crimes of the navy.

Smith also is vividly reminding the taxpayers that it is mendacious, no-good rotten bums like herself, the navy, and the USFWS that are being subsidized to the tune of millions of dollars a year in order to kill, abuse, and defame cats. If the issue were ever put to a vote, it is precisely Smith and her fellow freeloaders who would soon find themselves standing in the unemployment line while the cats would not only be given reprieves but lifetime care as well.

In the Star article cited supra, Smith gives the game away when she chastises the public for being unable to distinguish between feral and domestic cats. "It's difficult for people to make a distinction between a cat at home and feral cats," she bellyached.

In making that contrast, what she is really saying is that whereas domestic cats have a right to live homeless cats have absolutely none. It would be interesting to know if she would make a similar distinction between wild foxes and their captive-bred cousins or between orphans and children with parents?

Although she is far too dishonest and cowardly to ever admit it, what she is doing is using the cats' socio-economic status and powerlessness as excuses in order to kill them and that is nothing less than textbook Nazism applied to the animal world.

She also lets slip the ludicrous statement that there is nothing cute about feral cats. Not only would millions of cat-lovers vehemently disagree, but cuteness or the lack thereof has absolutely no place in the discussion of which animals should be allowed to live and which ones should be exterminated.

In the final analysis, it is her profuse praise of the foxes' friendliness coupled with her condemnation of the cats' skittishness that reveals the true nature of Smith's antipathy toward them. First of all, since the navy has been waging intermittent eradication campaigns against them for the past two decades the cats have good reason to be wary of people.

The problem with inveterate cat-haters such as Smith is much more profound, however. In his play Hippolytus, Euripides observes that men who will not consent to be everybody's friend are universally hated and it is precisely cats' independence and unwillingness to be abused that is at the root of all their troubles.

To liberally paraphrase Machiavelli, the world is divided into fascists and democrats. In other words, one group of people look upon all of creation as nothing more than their own private pot de chambre whereas the remainder of humanity simply wants to live and let live.

In Smith's case, she obviously does not have any use for either animals or people who will not accept her superiority and suck up to her. Being every bit as thick-headed as the door to the vault at Fort Knox, Smith and her fellow wildlife proponents will never accept the fact that the world is plural and that all animals and people have an unconditional right to both life and liberty.

Individuals and groups that hate cats are invariably fascists and that is another reason why it is so vitally important that rotters like Smith, the navy, USFWS, and their cohorts be exposed and stopped. Today it is cats, other animals, and Mother Earth that they are attacking; tomorrow it will be either unpopular groups or anyone who dares to stand in their way.

Smith wraps up her anti-cat diatribe by uttering the non-sequitur, "Our hope is to bring back the natural ecosystem as much as possible and the removal of feral cats is a necessary step for that." What she is conveniently omitting from her self-serving hortatory silliness is the utter impossibility of ever restoring San Nicolas to anything approaching its pristine ideal so long as invasive species such as herself and the navy remain on the island.

It is first of all difficult enough for wildlife to flourish while airplanes are taking off and landing, missiles are being launched, military maneuvers are taking place, and they are being run down for sport by sailors. Besides, as imperialistic America continues to plunder and exterminate, the naval base on San Nicolas is bound to be enlarged and that will ultimately crowd out the animals. (See photo above of a Vandal missile being launched from San Nicolas.)

Secondly, allowing wildlife biologists to exterminate species that they hate and to subjugate other animals via electronic monitoring and captive-breeding programs hardly fits the definition of restoring the "natural ecosystem." All that Smith and the USFWS are doing is using welfare money in order to impose their own prejudices upon San Nicolas's animals.

After heaping volumes of vitriol upon the feline species, Smith then attempts to dress up her ailurophobia as something noble and courageous. "I don't think it's right to have something go extinct because we can't be brave enough to handle a difficult situation," she pontificated to the Star.

Although wildlife proponents are famous for their distortions of the truth and frontal assaults upon logic, Smith's megalomania takes the cake. The Freuds of today would have a field day exploring the inner recesses of her desiccated gourd.

More to the point, there is not anything that is either courageous or noble about killing defenseless animals; im Gegenteil, it is the easiest and most cowardly thing in the world to do.

To cap it all off, she has the unmitigated gall to present herself as a cat-lover! Employed by such infamous cat-killers as Les Underhill of the University of Cape Town and Linda Winter of the diabolical American Bird Conservancy, that is an old familiar dodge that has rarely fooled anyone.

Instead of attempting to compete with the likes of Roger Clemens and George Bush for the title of the "World's Biggest Liar," Smith should instead publicly acknowledge exactly how many cats she has killed on San Nicolas and elsewhere over the years. She should then be indicted for murder.

In conclusion, further appeals to both the USFWS and navy are most likely to be futile. Both of them are autocratic institutions impervious to the wishes of the people. The USFWS's initial willingness to accepts comments from the public was merely pro forma.

Appeals to United States Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are likewise most likely a waste of time in that neither of them have ever shown much interest in either animal rights or the environment. Au contraire, both of them view public service as primarily an opportunity to not only line their own pockets but those of their spouses and children as well.

Congresswoman Lois Capps, who represents the twenty-third district of which San Nicolas is a part, might be worth an eleventh-hour appeal. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger could possibly block the killings if anyone could ever gain his attention.

If officials in California refuse to act, cat-lovers should organize a boycott of tourist attractions, produce, and Hollywood films. It is imperative that a strong message be conveyed to those in power that this mass slaughter will not be tolerated.

Photos: USFWS (logo), Jason Redmond of the Ventura County Star (Smith), and Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (missile).

Monday, July 07, 2008

Fox Affiliate in Richmond Murders at Least Three Cats and Then Sends in the Bulldozers to Destroy Their Home

"Your (the public's) response already has made clear that this unconscionable behavior will not be tolerated in our community and that the lives of feral cats and all companion animals are precious."
-- Robin Starr, Richmond SPCA

So intense is their hatred for the feline species that some individuals and groups will go to almost any length in order to do them bodily harm. They shoot them, put out poison for them to consume, and even sic their dogs on them for fun.

Other ailurophobes illegally trap them and then either turn them over to shelters to be killed or dump them at faraway locations. The United States Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) and its sister agencies deliberately introduce fishers and coyotes into residential areas so that they can prey upon cats.

The most prevalent method of killing cats is, however, perfectly legal and it is carried out every day by thousands of animal control officers and shelter employees. Unscrupulous, moneygrubbing veterinarians, who are supposed to respect the sanctity of all animal life, also kill their share.

Rarely, however, do even the most flagrant crimes of ailurophobes extend beyond cats to the destruction of Mother Earth as well. That threshold was breached late last month when Fox affiliate WRLH-TV of Richmond (Fox-35) not only killed at least three cats residing on its property at 1925 Westmoreland Street but also ordered that their habitat be destroyed. (See photo above of the carnage.)

Thanks to the spirited and timely intervention of Robin Starr of the Richmond SPCA, a no-kill shelter since 2002, Fox-35's killing spree was halted at three and about half of the cats' wooded habitat was saved. The remaining thirty-seven or so cats are being trapped, sterilized, and vaccinated by the SPCA and other groups.

Some of the cats and kittens will be put up for adoption while the SPCA hopes to return the remainder to Fox's property where they will be attended to by caretakers. It remains to be seen whether Fox-35 will accept this humane solution or demand that additional feline blood be shed. (See station's logo below.)

Last week, the Henrico County Police filed three separate counts of animal cruelty against Keith J. Copi of Critter Control for illegally killing the cats. The police for the time being are refusing to divulge how Copi carried out his heinous crimes.

Since in Virginia it is illegal to kill companion animals by any means other than lethal injections that are administered under the supervision of a veterinarian, it is strongly suspected that Copi either gassed the cats or shot them at pointblank range. If convicted, he faces a year in jail and a fine of $2,500 on each count.

His abhorrent behavior also has focused long overdue attention on the multitude of atrocities committed each year by pest control companies. (See Cat Defender post of August 30, 2007 entitled "Texas Couple Files Lawsuit Against Pest Control Company for Trapping and Gassing Their Cat, Butty.")

Killing animals, both wild and domestic, has become a gigantic business all across America. Critter Control, for instance, was founded in 1983 by Kevin Clark and has around one-hundred-twenty offices nationwide. On its website it even goes so far as to boast that it is the "nation's leading wildlife control company." Copi's franchise has been doing business in Richmond for the past dozen years.

Inexplicably, neither Fox-35 nor the wrecking crew have been charged in this case. That is an egregious miscarriage of justice in that individuals who hire hit men are accordingly charged with murder just as if they had actually pulled the trigger themselves.

Once its crimes became public knowledge, Fox-35 immediately embarked upon a campaign of lies designed to pull the wool over the eyes of the public and to save its own reputation. For instance, the station's claim that it is working with local cat advocacy groups in order to trap and remove the cats has been repeatedly refuted by Starr.

Moreover, Fox-35 has compounded the problem by appealing to members of the public to take matters into their own hands by trapping and removing the cats. This first of all sounds too much like a clarion call for all ailurophobes to come out of the woodwork and to kill more cats. Secondly, any trapping should only be undertaken under the auspices of the SPCA and other bona fide feline rescue groups.

Fox-35 lamely has attempted to justify its crimes on the grounds that the cats are scratching automobiles and destroying property. Unless Fox can produce hard evidence, those charges appear to be totally without merit.

First of all, since their habitat is comprised primarily of trees, shrubs, and vines, there is nothing for the cats to destroy even if they were so inclined. Secondly, although it is conceivable that the cats may have left paw prints on some of the executives' precious old jalopies it is highly unlikely that they have been sinking their claws into paint and steel.

Besides, birds do considerably more damage to cars, lawn furniture, and swing sets than do cats and absolutely nobody goes on avian extermination campaigns as the result. The same glaring lack of integrity and ingenuity that characterizes Fox's newscasts is equally unmistakable in this case as well.

Perhaps more telling is the fact that the cats and their predecessors have occupied the site for more than thirty years with apparently no problems. Employees of Fox and surrounding businesses even feed and water them.

It appears from press reports that Fox's criminal and inhumane actions have necessitated the moving of the cats' feeding station to adjacent properties. More disturbingly, the whereabouts and safety of those cats not yet trapped remains a mystery.

A refusal by Fox to allow the cats to return home will create major difficulties for both them and their caretakers. In that event, a suitable alternative site would first have to be secured.

Since cats are territorial, relocating them would entail imprisoning them at either a shelter or inside some sort of structure at their new location for at least a month. Otherwise, they would attempt to return to their old home.

Although the cats' ultimate fate is still up in the air, not only Starr but the people of Richmond are to be commended for coming to their defense. "Your (the public's) response already has made clear that this unconscionable behavior will not be tolerated in our community and that the lives of feral cats and all companion animals are precious," Starr wrote on the SPCA's website. (See photo below.)

The SPCA's swift and decisive action moreover underscores the urgent need for feline protection groups to publicize the crimes of cat-killers. The SPCA was remiss, however, in not calling upon Richmond's business community to withdraw its advertising from Fox-35. Nonetheless, apparently a few companies have taken the initiative on their own volition.

Individuals and groups that care about cats whether they be feral, domestic, lab animals, or whatever must take it upon themselves to carry the battle to the cat-haters and their stooges within the capitalist media. Cat defamers and killers must be exposed and brought to justice.

The actions of Starr and the Richmond SPCA also have demonstrated that not all Virginians are Neanderthals. Nevertheless, Virginia remains one of the most ailurophobic states in the union.

There is first of all Norfolk-based PETA's reprehensible crimes against both cats and dogs to consider. (See Cat Defender posts of January 29, 2007 and February 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in North Carolina Courtroom" and "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs.")

Secondly, judges in Virginia steadfastly refuse to take either animal cruelty or cat hoarding seriously. (See Cat Defender posts of January 17, 2006 and December 23, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Loony Virginia Judge Lets Career Criminal Go Free After He Stomps to Death a Fourteen-Year-Old Arthritic Cat" and "Virginia Cat Hoarder Who Killed 221 Cats and Kept Another 354 in Abominable Conditions Gets Off with $500 Fine.")

Thirdly, the state's treatment of feral cats is nothing less than barbaric. (See Cat Defender post of October 23, 2007 entitled "Virginia Does It Again! Farmer Who Drowned at Least Five Cats Gets Off with a Slap-on-the-Wrists.")

Earlier this year, management at The Meadows, a trailer park in Chantilly, attempted to kill two-hundred feral cats but were thwarted at the last minute by the intervention of Alley Cat Allies and other humane groups. (See Washington Post articles of March 12, 2008 and March 15, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Wild Cats at Chantilly Trailer Park to be Trapped, Probably Killed" and "Deal Reached to Keep Feral Cats.")

With Starr and the Richmond SPCA leading the way, hopefully a new day is dawning for Virginia's beleaguered cats.

Photos: WRIC-TV of Richmond (bulldozers), Wikipedia (Fox-35 logo), and Network for Enterprising Women (Starr).

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Phoenix Is Severely Burned but Still Manages to Save One of Her Kittens from the Humboldt Fire

Despite sustaining severe burns to her paws, a courageous cat named Phoenix was able to rescue one of her kittens from a deadly wildfire that swept through the northern California town of Paradise last month. (See photo above.) She was unable, however, to rescue her other kittens.

Phoenix and her one surviving offspring, Blaze, are now on the road to recovery and soon will be put up for adoption. She also has graciously consented to nurse six other kittens that were robbed of their mothers by the conflagration. (See the Mercury-Register of Oroville, June 28, 2008, "Humboldt Fire Cats Need Good Home.")

The blaze, which started in neighboring Humboldt County before spreading to Butte, scorched tens of thousands of acres along the way and destroyed at least sixty-six houses. In Paradise, seventeen homes were damaged and nine-thousand-five-hundred residents had to be evacuated. (See San Francisco Chronicle, June 15, 2008, "Paradise Fire Evacuees Starting to Return Home.")

Phoenix's heroics are reminiscent of those of a black and white Brooklyn cat named Scarlett who during the spring of 1996 made five separate trips inside a burning building in order to carry to safety her five, four-week-old kittens. (See photo below.)

During the daring rescue, she received severe burns to her eyes and paws and her fur was badly singed. She still has scars and her eyes must be medicated several times throughout the day in order to keep them moist.

Although one of her kittens died shortly after the fire, the remaining four survived and at last report are all doing well. (See Cat Defender post of September 15, 2005 entitled "Scarlett, the Cat Who Saved Her Kittens from a Burning Building in 1996, Is Still Alive on Long Island.")

Three-hundred-twelve kilometers to the south of Paradise in Santa Cruz, Naomi and Frank Bloss received a pleasant surprise on June 26th when their black cat, Tip-Two, unexpectedly showed up at their back door. (See photo below.) Given up for dead, the cat had been missing for six days after the Trabing Fire had destroyed much of the Blosses' property but, strangely enough, not their house.

"He just showed up on the back patio, where the cats eat, and we couldn't recognize him at first," Naomi told the Santa Cruz Sentinel on June 27th. (See "Family Cat Returns Home Six Days after Trabing Fire, Burned but Not Broken.") "I was amazed he even made it home, in the condition he was in."

Tip-Two suffered severe burns to his face, ears, eyelids, paws, and fur. The tips of his ears in fact were so badly burned that they had to be surgically removed. The same fate may be in store for the white tip on his tail, which supplied the rationale for his odd name.

The cat, who was forced to go without regular meals during his separation from his family, is being fed intravenously at the East Lake Animal Hospital in Watsonville. If all goes well, he should be back home in about three weeks.

"...animals have a great will to survive," attending veterinarian Dave Carroll told the Sentinel in the article cited supra. "That's what is really amazing: they're tough, in some cases, they're tougher than we are."

In a profession known more for its bloodsuckers than animal-lovers, Carroll is an exception to the rule in that he is not charging the Blosses for a good portion of the services that he has rendered to Tip-Two. United Animal Nations of Sacramento also is making a financial contribution towards the cat's care.

The Trabing Fire began on June 20th when sparks from an exhaust pipe ignited dry grass along the side of a highway. It went on to destroy six-hundred-forty acres of land, twenty structures, and to kill at least forty domestic animals. (See Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 25, 2008, "Cal Fire: Trabing Fire an Accident Not Arson; Summit and Martin Fires Remain Under Investigation.")

Natural disasters, wars, and economic downturns are hard enough on people but it is always the animals and Mother Earth that suffer the most.

Photos: Susan Doyle (Phoenix), Moggies (Scarlett), and Sophie Borazanian of the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Tip-Two).