Loved and Admired All Over the World, Feline Heroine Scarlett Is Killed Off by Her Owner after She Becomes Ill
"I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamor, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid skepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary."
-- Joe Conrad.
She was not only able to make it out of a burning Brooklyn garage way back in 1996 but she also somehow managed to save her five, four-week-old kittens in the process. Although the ordeal left her disfigured and handicapped, she still was able to find the strength and courage to go on and have a long and relatively normal life.
Her name was Scarlett and it was her heroics in rescuing her kittens that propelled the obscure stray into an international celebrity. The only thing that she was unable to overcome, however, was owner Karen Wellen's unconscionable desire to end her life.
The end came for the courageous moggy on October 11th when Wellen contracted an unidentified veterinarian to dispatch her trusting companion to the devil. As is usually the case with these types of so-called mercy killings, Wellen lamely has attempted to justify her morally repulsive behavior on the grounds that it was best for Scarlett. (See recent photo of her above and the one below taken shortly after her heroics.)
"It wasn't fair to let her suffer after all she'd been through," Wellen declared October 20th on the North Shore Animal League's (NSAL) web site. (See "In Memory of Scarlett.")
Although Scarlett was suffering from Lymphoma and kidney trouble as well as having a heart murmur, dental woes, and a thyroid condition, it is by no means a foregone conclusion that she could not have lived a little bit longer if she had been provided with proper medical care and the around-the-clock attention at home that she so richly deserved. Moreover, it is far from certain that she was in any great pain.
Even if that had been the case, she was not any stranger to discomfort and, quite obviously, had a high level of pain tolerance. For instance, blotches of her pelt, the tips of her ears, and her eyelids were burned off in the blaze that nearly killed her.
The loss of her eyelids alone necessitated that her eyes had to be medicated several times a day in order to keep them moist. (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.")
Even Wellen admits that Scarlett still had a normal appetite only one day before she chose to ring down the curtain on her cat's all-too-short existence. In spite of that, all Wellen has to say is, "That's a memory we'll cherish."
Although Scarlett is now gone, four of the kittens that she saved were at last report still alive. The fifth one succumbed to smoke inhalation shortly after being pulled from the inferno.
Through her heroism, dedication to family, and perseverance through a lifetime of pain, Scarlett became a real-life hero. Needlessly to say, she will be sorely missed and not easily forgotten.
Since neither Wellen nor NSAL have announced funeral and burial details, it probably is safe to assume that they will be private.
Euthanasia, properly understood as the selective killing of the terminally ill as opposed to the en masse extermination pogroms carried out by shelters and Animal Control, can rarely be justified primarily because minor pains are bearable whereas severe ones usually lead to imminent death. Therefore, medical intervention, whether with cats or humans, is always either unnecessary or precipitate.
"I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine," Joe Conrad wrote in Heart of Darkness. "It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamor, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid skepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary."
In short, dying is not any big deal; rather, it is living that is problematic. Or, as novelist Phyllis James told The Independent on August 29th, "To live under the continual fear of death is to diminish the quality of life that you have." (See "P.D. James: Heroine With a Taste for Life.")
Although individuals such as Wellen steadfastly maintain that they kill off their beloved cats and dogs out of compassion, money and convenience are usually the true motivating factors. Caring for a sick cat or dog is not only expensive but labor intensive as well and these twin crosses are usually more than most pet owners are willing to bear.
Veterinarians exacerbate the problem by being so gung-ho to snuff out innocent lives for the sake of a pretty penny. Jack Kevorkian spent eight years in the slammer for helping, by his own count, one-hundred-thirty people to end their lives but yet avaricious veterinarians are allowed to kill non-consenting cats and dogs with impunity.
That really is not surprising for a profession that expends the bulk of its expertise pimping and whoring for factory farmers, slaughterhouses, cloners, vivisectors and other animal annihilators. In addition to euthanasia, small animal veterinarians clean up by maiming cats through onychectomies and brutalizing dogs by debarking and tail docking procedures. Both species additionally are victimized by unnecessary vaccinations.
Even when veterinarians are willing to do what they are supposed to be doing, which is to save lives, they go to extraordinary lengths in order to price their services out of the reach of most individuals.
On the sentimental level, it is difficult to comprehend how anyone could kill off either a cat or a dog that they supposedly love. Au contraire, they should be actively seeking alternative treatments and praying for a miracle.
As abhorrent as it is, Wellen's behavior is merely par for the course when it comes to how pet owners choose to deal with their sick and elderly companions. Par exemple, on November 29, 2006, the public library in Spencer, Iowa killed off its world famous mascot Dewey Readmore Books when he became ill. Before poor Dewey's corpse was even cold librarian Vicky Myron already had inked a million-dollar publishing deal for a book about his life. (See Cat Defender posts of December 7, 2006 and May 10, 2007 entitled, respectively, "After Nineteen Years of Service and Companionship, Ingrates at Iowa Library Murder Dewey Readmore Books" and "Iowa Librarian Vicki Myron Inks Million-Dollar Deal for Memoir About Dewey Readmore Books.")
Her tome, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, is currently ranked at number twenty-two on Amazon's best-seller list. Obviously, Dewey was worth considerably more to her dead than alive.
The same fate that befell Scarlett and Dewey also claimed the life of an attractive seventeen-year-old tortoiseshell named Colin's from Port Taranaki in 2007. (See Cat Defender post of May 31, 2007 entitled "Port Taranaki Kills Off Its World Famous Seafaring Feline, Colin's, at Age 17.")
Although her appetite had waned and she had lost some weight, she was otherwise in good health. Nevertheless, port superintendent Gordon MacPherson had her killed. Furthermore, his conduct calls into question whether he even would have flown to South Korea in 2001 in order to retrieve her after she was shanghaied out of New Plymouth if Whiskas had not agreed to foot the bill.
At the New Caledonian Record in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, publisher Mark Smith freely admits that he and his staff habitually kill off the paper's resident felines once they become old and sickly. Sadly, that was what happened to a three-legged cat named Tripod in early 2006.
Although he suffered from a thyroid condition and was eating very little, this could have been a temporary and treatable condition. (See Cat Defender post of February 9, 2006 entitled "Newspaper Cat Named Tripod Is Killed Off by Journalists He Befriended in Vermont.")
Like cats, dogs also are routinely subjected to this sort of shabby treatment. A good case in point was Ginny, a schnauzer and husky mix from Long Beach on Long Island, who reportedly rescued more than eight-hundred homeless and sick cats during her seventeen years on this earth. (See Cat Defender posts of September 2, 2005 and November 17, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Ginny, a Dog Who Rescued Cats, Is Killed Off by Her Owner on Long Island" and "Westchester Cat Show to Celebrate the Life of a Dog Who Rescued Hundreds of Cats on Long Island.")
Despite all of her tremendous accomplishments, owner Philip Gonzalez had her killed off on August 25, 2005 once she stopped eating and had become incontinent and arthritic. (See photo above of her with a cat named Chairman of the Board.)
In addition to owners who are too cheap and lazy to care for elderly cats and dogs, there is an even larger contingent of those who are so stingy that they will not even spring for emergency veterinary care for injured animals. Back in September, for example, an unidentified couple from Malvern Way in Winsford, Cheshire, hired a vet to kill off their eleven-month-old cat Maggie because they were unwilling to pony up the $1566 needed to treat her.
An unknown assailant had shot the tuxedo cat in one of her front paws with a BB gun and the pellet had lodged in one of her rear legs. The leg had become infected but this certainly was a treatable injury and Maggie would be alive today if it were not for her owners' cheapness and the simply reprehensible conduct of the attending veterinarian.
The behavior of Maggie's male guardian was particularly egregious in that it was precisely her who had helped him to learn to walk again after he had injured a foot in a horse-riding accident. "She might just be a little mongrel cat, but she was so beautiful and for someone like me who has had to learn to walk again by chasing her around, I'm heartbroken," he equivocated to the Winsford Guardian on September 29th. (See "Cat Dies After Being Shot by 'Sick People'.")
Despite protestations to the contrary, he obviously cared more for the money than he did for Maggie. His behavior, along with that of the owners of Scarlett, Dewey, Ginny, Colin's, and Tripod, has demonstrated once again that man is the most ungrateful and uncaring of all beasts.
It should not be necessary to point it out, but cats and dogs are different from worn-out old shoes and radios that routinely are tossed in the trash once they have outlived their usefulness. They instead are sentient beings who are entitled to the same considerations as those afforded to individuals.
Consequently, just as few persons would order a loved one to be killed solely because he or she had developed a weak bladder, the same kindness should be extended to the four-legged members of the family as well.
Photos: North Shore Animal League (Scarlett) and Newsday (Ginny and Chairman of the Board).