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).