Cecil, Pennsylvania, Police Officer Summarily Executes Family's Beloved Ten-Year-Old Persian, Elmo
"He was not injured. He just didn't know where to run. Another cat ran away, and the policeman said if my cat would have run, he would have let him go."
-- Roger Oldaker
A trigger-happy, cat-hating police officer from the Pittsburgh suburb of Cecil trapped and summarily executed a beloved ten-year-old Persian cat named Elmo on March 22nd. (See photo above.) This barbaric and senseless killing has left Elmo's owner, Roger Oldaker, and his family devastated.
Although the details are sketchy and somewhat contradictory, the drama began on March 21st when Elmo disappeared. The following day, an unidentified neighbor, most likely another ailurophobe, telephoned the police to complain about a group of cats loitering on his or her property.
The caller also stated that one of the cats was allegedly rabid although it is unclear how this conclusion was reached. The local media, for instance, have not reported any recent incidences of anyone having been either bitten or scratched by a mad cat.
Upon the officer's arrival, the other cats scattered but Elmo remained behind. The officer then proceeded in workmanlike fashion to trap the cat, drag it across the street into the woods, and shoot it.
Relying solely upon the word of the complainant and the fact that Elmo was not wearing a collar, the officer claims that he deduced that the cat was a stray. He then took the liberty of appointing himself arresting officer, prosecutor, judge, jury, and hangman.
Even the officer's claim that the cat may have been injured has been rebutted by Oldaker. "He was not injured," he told WPXI-TV of Pittsburgh on March 24th. (See "Family's Cat Shot, Killed by Police Officer.")
Clearly siding with the police, WPXI-TV has refused to divulge the name of the officer and the Cecil Police Department is, as expected, standing solidly behind him. The petit fait that he has been on the force for twenty-five years nonetheless raises serious questions concerning his competence and fitness to wear a badge and carry a gun.
First of all, any experienced police officer should have been aware of the fact that there are very few feral Persians. Au contraire, these are expensive cats that usually have doting owners.
Secondly, this breed of cats requires constant grooming and the condition of Elmo's fur would have been another rather obvious sign that he belonged to a loving family.
Thirdly, the fact that Elmo did not flee upon his arrival was another stark indication that the cat was a domestic. Not that it makes any difference in that nobody should have the right to harm any cat regardless of whether it is domesticated or feral.
As it is almost always the case with domesticated animals of all species, it was Elmo's abiding trust in humans that, sadly, led to his brutal murder. "He just didn't know where to run," Oldaker told WPXI-TV in the article cited supra. "Another cat ran away, and the policeman said if my cat would have run, he would have let him go." That is only because he most likely was too lazy to have chased him.
Even more disturbingly, cat-lovers in Cecil have to wonder just how many other cats, both feral and domestic, this officer and his colleagues have trapped and shot over the years. By steadfastly refusing to impound Elmo, the officer denied Oldaker any chance to reclaim him.
This case also is alarming in that many cat owners nowadays are eschewing collars in favor of implanted microchips. Since chips can only be detected by special scanners that are available for the most part solely at shelters and veterinarians' offices, they therefore offer absolutely no protection against cat killers, whether they be civilians or rogue cops. (See Cat Defender post of May 25, 2006 entitled "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats.")
WPXI-TV's slipshod reporting also fails to give any details regarding the final disposition of Elmo's remains. This is important because a necropsy would be able to determine whether he was either injured or rabid before he was shot. Indications are that the neighbor and police officer are lying on both counts.
Elmo's tragic death also provides a rare glimpse into the nether world of animal control. Everybody is familiar with the totally reprehensible crimes that occur at shelters and in veterinarians' offices every day but few people are fully cognizant of the monstrous atrocities that are committed by cops, Animal Control, private pest control companies, so-called humane organizations, and evil private citizens.
Most notably, trapping and summarily executing cats and dogs is the de rigueur for many Animal Control officers. Untold numbers of animals never make it to shelters and it is unclear whether their deaths are even included in their official kill rates.
In some cities, the identities of Animal Control officers are such a closely guarded secret that they can only be contacted by their superiors. They therefore operate with impunity and are totally unaccountable to the public.
Much of the same applies to police departments in that as far as it is known they do not make a habit of disclosing the number of cats and dogs that they annually kill. The picture is further muddied by the fact that in some jurisdictions police officers are assigned to Animal Control.
Some cities also outsource animal control services to private concerns that are paid a bounty for each animal that they trap and kill. This morally repugnant scheme therefore encourages the illegal killing of innumerable cats and dogs each year.
For instance, ABC Lawn and Pest of Houston trapped and subsequently killed Patrick Boland and Shelley Bolek's beloved cat, Butty (see photo above), last March in League City, Texas. (See Cat Defender post of August 30, 2007 entitled "Texas Couple Files Lawsuit Against Pest Control Company for Trapping and Gassing Their Cat, Butty.")
In Ruislip, Middlesex, a cat-hater posing as an irate gardener sicced the RSPCA on Katherine and Paul Parker-Brice's beloved nineteen-year-old cat, Mork, last May. (See photo below.) Instead of leafletting the neighborhood, putting up posters, and taking the cat to a veterinarian as its own guidelines stipulate, the RSPCA executed Mork a scant two and one-half hours after he was trapped. (See Cat Defender post of June 5, 2007 entitled "RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated.")
Furthermore, the notorious modus operandi that the arch-villains at PETA employ in dealing with homeless cats and dogs must never be forgotten. (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.")
Private individuals, such as Richard DeSantis of West Islip on Long Island and Robert and Debbie McCallum of Edmonds, Washington, also have gotten in on the cat-killing craze by illegally trapping their neighbors' pets and then turning them over to shelters. (See Cat Defender posts of June 15, 2006, March 9, 2007, and October 30, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Serial Cat Killer on Long Island Traps His Neighbors' Cats and Then Gives Them to Shelters to Exterminate," "Long Island Serial Cat Killer Guilty of Only Disorderly Conduct, Corrupt Court Rules," and "Collar Saves Cat Named Turbo from Extermination After He Is Illegally Trapped by Bird-Loving Psychopaths.")
Ailurophobes, wary of any flirtation whatsoever with the authorities, instead trap their neighbors' cats and then secretly dump them at remote locations. (See Cat Defender posts of October 30, 2007, November 16, 2007, and December 24, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Crafty Bird Lover Claims Responsibility for Stealing Six Cats from a Southampton Neighborhood and Concealing Their Whereabouts," "Fletcher, One of the Cats Abducted from Bramley Crescent, Is Killed by a Motorist in Corhampton," and "Prominent New Zealand Physician Who Ludicrously Claims to Be an Ailurophile Gets Away with Stealing and Dumping His Neighbor's Cat.")
All of these cases point to the inescapable conclusion that both policemen and Animal Control personnel are largely above the law and that the anti-cruelty statutes are too lax in order to bring groups like PETA, the RSPCA, and pest control companies to justice. Private individuals likewise usually only receive slap-on-the-wrists' fines as punishment for their crimes.
For whatever it is worth, both Boland and Bolek in League City as well as the Parker-Brices in Ruislip have initiated legal proceedings against the killers of their cats. This is an option that the Oldakers in Cecil also should seriously contemplate.
The brutal and uncalled for slaying of Elmo was nothing short of cold-blooded murder and the offending officer should be arrested and tried accordingly. That, of course, is not about to happen anytime soon but when it comes to enshrining the rights of animals in the criminal code someone has to get the ball rolling and Oldaker might very well be just the person for the job.
Cats and dogs enjoy a special place in both the hearts and lives of not only their owners but also with anyone who ever has been blessed with owning one of them. In particular, they are such intimate family members that provisions are often made for them in their owners' wills. Bird and wildlife proponents, envious of these relationships, are laboring night and day in order to undermine the rights of both cats and their owners.
More importantly, the only sure-fire method of putting an end to the killing of cats such as Elmo, Butty, Mork, and thousands of others like them is to outlaw the killing of all cats regardless of their circumstances. Not only is killing cats indefensible, but as long as it remains legal there is not any way of guaranteeing that beloved pets are not going to continue to be accidentally terminated.
Photos: Roger Oldaker (Elmo), Shelley Bolek and Patrick Boland (Butty), and Katherine Parker-Brice (Mork).