Regardless of Whether He Is a Pixie-Bob or a Bobcat, It Is Going to Be a Blue Christmas for Benny after He Inadvertently Bites Santa Claus
"I don't want anything to happen to the cat. It's a beautiful animal and was naturally scared (of the dogs)."
-- Santa Claus, a.k.a. Jonathan Bebbington
Winston Churchill once astutely observed that "Americans will always do the right thing after they have exhausted all the alternatives." Those sentiments are indeed a propos to the recent brouhaha that has developed in wake of the accidental biting of Santa Claus by either a Pixie-Bob or a pet bobcat at a PetSmart store in Mays Landing, New Jersey on December 7th.
Forty-seven-year-old Vineland resident Jonathan Bebbington was posing in his Santa's outfit with an assortment of cats, dogs, birds, and other critters in order to raise money for Penny Angel's Beagle Rescue when Christine Haughey of nearby Egg Harbor Township strolled up with a rather large cat named Benny. Being an animal lover himself, Bebbington did not flinch and the photo opportunity went on as planned. (See photo above.)
Somewhere in the process, either before the shoot or immediately thereafter, Benny became spooked by the presence of several dogs waiting in line and bit Bebbington's left hand and wrist resulting in six puncture wounds. Bebbington later was given a tetanus shot and treated with antibiotics.
Concerns were raised about rabies but they soon were proven to be unfounded when Haughey came forward a couple of days later and demonstrated that the cat was up-to-date with his vaccinations. PetSmart even generously has offered to pay Bebbington's medical tab.
More to the point, Bebbington's wounds do not appear to have been much worse than insect bites. (See photo below) In fact, bites from mosquitoes and horseflies cause much more damage and are significantly more painful than being bitten by a cat. Dog and deer ticks can spread the deadly West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease, respectively, but no one goes bananas about them.
Quite obviously, Benny was not attempting to hurt Bebbington because if that had been his intention he certainly is more than capable of having done so. Besides, as Miguel de Cervantes observed long ago, "Those who will play with cats must expect to be scratched."
The matter should have died there but the Garden State's thoroughly corrupt and opportunistic politicians and bureaucrats decided to team up with their buddies in the moneybags media and transform this minor incident into a cause celebre. Consequently, the health departments of Atlantic County and Vineland as well as the local SPCA immediately shoved in oars with the New Jersey State Department of Health and the state Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) in hot pursuit right behind them.
Health officials immediately ordered Haughey to keep Benny confined for at least two weeks so that they could monitor him for any signs of rabies. The DFW meanwhile took it upon itself to launch an investigation into Benny's pedigree.
While it is legal to own Pixie-Bobs in New Jersey, keeping bobcats is strictly verboten. Photographs have been taken of Benny for analysis by so-called experts but the only surefire way to determine his pedigree would be through DNA testing.
For her part, Haughey maintains that the eight-month-old, thirty-pound feline is a Pixie-Bob that she purchased for $1,500 from a breeder in Wyoming. "There's nothing really special about him, just the way he looks," she told WCAU-TV of Philadelphia on December 10th. (See "Santa 'Clawed' Attacker Comes Forward.")
She should not, however, expect the DFW to let the matter drop there since it and its counterparts in the United States Fish and Wildlife Service have been attacking feral cats in Atlantic City, Cape May, and elsewhere for a long time. (See Cat Defender posts of July 5, 2007 and May 6, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Bird and Wildlife Proponents, Ably Assisted by The Press of Atlantic City, Launch Malicious Libel Campaign Against Feral Cats" and "National Audubon Society Wins the Right for Invasive Species of Shorebirds to Prey Upon Horseshoe Crabs.")
As far as the other bureaucrats are concerned, most of them hold either no-show jobs or sinecures and therefore do not have anything better to do with their time than to go after cats; attacking Benny is recreation as far as they are concerned. This irresponsible conduct comes at a time when the state is mired in a deep recession and the governor has slashed charity care for those without health insurance.
Moreover, health officials are so derelict in their responsibilities that they refuse to require government buildings, universities, restaurants, hotels, and casinos to provide their guests and visitors with hot water and soap. Anyone frequenting a restaurant in New Jersey would be well advised to bear that in mind before they chow down because this gross oversight is a far greater menace to public health than being bitten by a cat.
The highways are a no-man's land for both pedestrians and animals because the police steadfastly refuse to enforce the rules of the road and welfare payments to the poor range from between a minuscule $140 to $200 a month! This is in a state where some reports peg the per capita income at close to $60,000 a year. None of those pressing concerns seem to matter, however, in that all scarce resources now must be directed toward going after Benny.
The only person willing to stand up for him so far has been, ironically, his victim. "I don't want anything to happen to the cat," Bebbington, who by vocation is a locksmith at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, told The Press of Atlantic City on December 10th. (See "Large Cat Attacks Santa During Photo Shot.") "It's a beautiful animal and was naturally scared (of the dogs)." (See photo below of him without his costume.)
Surprisingly, the attack has not put him off charity work. "I'll still do it (pose with animals)," but "no bobcats," he told The Daily Journal of Vineland on December 11th. (See "Santa Gets Customer with Bite.")
That is considerably more than can be said for a duly chastened Haughey. "I'm really sorry, Santa, that he bit your hand and I apologize," she told WCAU-TV in the article cited supra. "I'm done. I learned my lesson for taking Benny out of the house."
Although the fact that a frightened cat inflicted a few minor wounds upon Santa is not any big deal in itself, the creation of so-called hybrids, such as Pixie-Bobs, represents the very epitome of animal cruelty and should be outlawed. There are many reasons why this should be the case but none perhaps more compelling than the secrecy that surrounds their creation.
Pixie-Bobs, for example, were first created by Carol Ann Brewer of Bellingham, Washington in 1986 by breeding what she claims to have been the progeny from illicit liaisons that had developed in the wild between domestic cats and bobcats. Subsequent DNA testing has failed to detect the presence of bobcat genes in Pixie-Bobs and some experts, such as Dr. Jan Strother of the North Alabama Cat and Bird Veterinary Clinic in Hartselle, even doubt that bobcats mate with domestic cats in the wild.
The forced breeding of bobcats with domestic cats is a more likely scenario. At least that is what Pixie-Bob breeder Mitchell Morris of Lawrence County, Alabama bragged about doing last year. (See Cat Defender post of June 28, 2007 entitled "Rural Alabama Man Makes a Killing Forcibly Breeding Domestic Cats to Bobcats in Order to Create Pixie-Bobs.") Artificial insemination is another distinct possibility.
The creation of other hybrids are cloaked in every bit as much secrecy as that which surrounds Pixie-Bobs. Par exemple, Judy Sugden of Eeyaas Cattery in Los Angeles claims to have created Toygers out of the union of domestic cats with an unknown Kashmir street cat. (See Cat Defender post of April 13, 2007 entitled "Killing and Torturing Wild and Domestic Cats in Order to Create Toygers Is Not Going to Save Sumatran Tigers.")
Asheras likewise are alleged to be the product of breeding African Servals (Leptailurus serval) and Asian Leopard Cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) with a trade secret domestic cat. (See Cat Defender post of February 19, 2008 entitled "Asheras Are the Designer Chats du Jour Despite the Cruelties Inflicted During Their Hybridization.")
Savannahs also are said to be the offspring of unions between African servals and domestic cats and the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species has shanghaied countless house cats into service as egg donors and surrogate mothers in order to clone African wildcats. (See Cat Defender posts of May 19, 2005 and September 6, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Savannahs: More Feline Cruelty Courtesy of the Capitalists and the Bourgeoisie" and "Clones of Endangered African Wildcats Give Birth to Eight Naturally-Bred Healthy Kittens in New Orleans.")
Even Allerca Lifestyle Pets refuses to divulge the details of how it has created its allergy-free cats. (See Cat Defender posts of July 10, 2006 and October 10, 2006 entitled, respectively, "More Devilry from Scientific Community as California Company Creates World's First Hypoallergenic Cat" and "Dodgy Allerca and Dishonest CBS Join Forces to Market an Allergy-Free Cat Named Joshua to a Gullible Public.")
The blatant lies and secrecy surrounding the creation of hybrids is merely the tip of a proverbial iceberg of feline cruelty and abuse. First of all, wild cats are stolen from their natural habitats and brought to the United States where they are then imprisoned at breeding farms.
In some instances, the importation of these cats is no doubt in violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of which the United States is a signatory. It is therefore the duty of both customs officials and the Commerce Department to interdict this trade.
Since these breeding mills are unregulated, no one knows the extent of the abuses, manipulations, and killings that occur inside them. More poignantly, wild cats deserve to be protected in their natural habitats as opposed to being pressed into service as studs and brood mares.
Both wild and domestic cats are then subjected to forced breeding, artificial insemination, genetic manipulation, and God only knows what other horrors. Miscarriages, birth defects, and flawed hybrids are routine.
Since the operators of these catteries are the epitome of bloodsucking capitalists, they are far too cheap to ever care for the sickly and flawed cats that they create and, consequently, these unfortunate cats are systematically eliminated.
While Pixie-Bobs generally are thought to be rather healthy cats, they nonetheless are known to suffer from such reproductive maladies as Cryptorchidism, Dystocia, Cystic Endometrial Hyperplasia, and Pyometra. They additionally are prone to Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and, like most cats, immune system disorders such as Herpes. Furthermore, since they are a relatively young breed it is conceivable that other diseases may manifest themselves in succeeding generations.
Once hybrids leave the breeding farms many of them are subjected to a second round of abuses at the hands of their owners whereby they are divested of their claws, fangs, and tails. Some of them answer the call of the wild by running away from home only to be hunted down and shot like convicted felons on the lam by ignorant and bloodthirsty cops and private citizens.
Easily disgruntled owners soon grow tired of them and either abandon them to fend for themselves or dump them at already overcrowded shelters. This in return necessitates the creation of new rescue organizations designed to care for these horribly abused cats.
Of late, these pricey cats even have become a favorite target of thieves. (See Cat Defender post of February 20, 2008 entitled "Exotic and Hybrid Cats, Perennial Objects of Exploitation and Abuse, Are Now Being Mutilated, Abandoned, and Stolen.")
The most bewildering aspect of Pixie-Bobs, Toygers, Savannahs, and Asheras is their canine personalities. It strains credulity to believe that this trait could be the product of interbreeding between wild and domestic cats.
Their owners consequently treat them like dogs. For instance, Haughey walks Benny on a leash and keeps him chained in her yard. Hybrids also reportedly suffer from separation anxiety just like dogs. They thus appear to be dogs trapped inside the bodies of cats.
This unconscionable abuse of both wild and domestic cats is only sustained by the unchecked greed of breeders and the perverse tastes of those individuals who purchase hybrids. Despite the myriad of diabolical crimes currently being committed against the feline species no animal rights group has seen fit to confront breeders and purchasers alike and hold them accountable. Either they do not care or they support these outrages.
Finally, a brief word needs to be said about the use of animals as photo props. As any fool knows, cats and dogs generally do not mix. It was therefore a grievous error on the part of both Penny Angel's Beagle Rescue and PetSmart to have assembled these age-old antagonists under the same roof.
Even some veterinarians now have separate entrances for cats and dogs and consequently it would be a good idea for organizations staging such photo sessions to set aside one day for cats and another one for dogs. Although no problems have been reported at churches that regularly bless animals, they, too, might want to consider implementing such a policy.
Zoos are another huge problem. First of all, petting zoos are rife with E. coli. Washing with soap and hot water therefore should be mandatory for all visitors who handle animals at such facilities.
A far more pressing problem exists at more conventional zoos, hotels, and resorts that exploit wild animals, especially large predators, as photo props. (See photo above of a chimp on the beach at a resort in Cancun.) In order to pacify the animals, their handlers often drug, declaw, chain, and even wire their mouths shut.
These unfortunate animals also are under an extreme amount of stress as the result of constantly being handled by people. In most instances, they were taken from their mothers at an early age and therefore have spent their entire lives in captivity.
Once they become either too old or too difficult to handle they are either sold to circuses, other zoos, or killed outright. Although this naked abuse occurs practically everywhere, it is particularly rampant in Thailand, Mexico, Spain, Bulgaria, Morocco, Russia, Rumania, India, and Sri Lanka.
In addition to the toll inflicted on the animals, tourists are in danger of both contracting diseases and being injured as well. Earlier this year a young girl in China was killed by a tiger that had been spooked by a camera flash.
In order to put an end to this practice, the Born Free Foundation and the Federation of Tour Operators in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, have adopted a Preferred Code of Practice. Already Riu Hotels and Resorts of Mallorca has agreed to stop using wild animals as photographic props at its one-hundred-two establishments around the world. The English and Irish offices of Touristik Union International of Hanover, the Thomas Cook Group, and Virgin Holidays have agreed in principal that such exploitation is unacceptable.
Travelers who encounter such abuses are encouraged to report them to Born Free in Horsham, West Sussex, or at email@example.com.
Photos: WCAU-TV (Benny and Santa), Joseph P. Smith of The Daily Journal (bit marks and Bebbington), and Born Free (chimp).