.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

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, February 26, 2009

Dog Groomer Who Sold Mutilated Gothic Kittens on the Internet Is Finally Identified and Ordered to Stand Trial

"She chose to pierce them because it was neat, or to beautify them; other people buy gold collars, or dress their pets in clothes and hats and have birthday parties."
-- Demetrius Fannick

The Pennsylvania dog groomer arrested in December for body-piercing kittens as young as eight-weeks-old finally has been identified and bound over for trial. (See Cat Defender post of January 9, 2008 entitled "Pennsylvania Pet Groomer Is Caught Piercing the Ears, Necks, and Tails of Cats and Dogs and Then Peddling Them on eBay.")

Her name is Holly Crawford and she is the thirty-four-year-old proprietor of Pawside Parlor at 71 Dobson Road in Sweet Valley, twenty-two kilometers west of Wilkes-Barre. William Blansett, her thirty-seven-year-old boyfriend from 188 Gordon Road, also in Sweet Valley, so far has not been charged because he reportedly only assisted in peddling the $400 so-called Gothic kittens on eBay and other Internet web sites but did not actually mutilate any of them.

The decision to move the case forward was made by Magisterial District Judge John Paul Hadzick on February 17th and will result in Crawford being arraigned in Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas on April 24th. She remains free and even if convicted the severest sentence that she is likely to receive is a minuscule fine.

Even Hadzick admitted that piercing kittens falls within a gray area of the law. "I don't think that the decision is for me to be made here," he is quoted as saying in the February 17th edition of Citizens Voice of Wilkes-Barre. (See "Woman Accused of Piercing 'Gothic' Kittens Will Face Charges in County Court.")

Crawford's shyster, Demetrius Fannick of Wilkes-Barre, is promising to mount a robust defense. "There's nothing in the statute that expressly says you can't pierce your cat's ears or necks, or even crop their tails," he told Citizens Voice in the article cited supra. "It's a case that you will be for or against as an animal owner. Let the legislature say you can't pierce or tattoo your animal, and it will be different."

Acting upon a tip from an unidentified party who had seen the ads on the Internet, the SPCA of Luzerne County and the Pennsylvania State Police raided Pawside Parlor on December 17th. Inside they found three kittens, an adult cat, and a dog all sporting body piercings. It is not exactly clear, but apparently the cat and dog were being kept as pets and were not, like the kittens, for retail sale.

The three kittens were pierced a total of ten times and made to wear fourteen-gauge rings that made their ears flop. Additional rings were inserted in their necks so that leashes could be attached. (See photos above and below.)

Rubber bands were wound tightly around their tails so as to constrict the flow of blood and thus cause them to rot off. Rings were then inserted in the shortened appendages.

No one seems to be willing to say just how long this mutilation factory had been in operation or how many victims it may have claimed, but of the kittens discovered in the raid one of them already had lost its tail while another one had to have its surgically removed because of an infection. The jewelry also had to be removed and all of the kittens required antibiotics.

"If you see these kittens, they were hurt pretty badly," Luzerne County Deputy District Attorney David Pedri told the Indiana Gazette of Indiana, Pennsylvania on February 18th. (See "Shopping for Kitty or Puppy? Consider Pierced Earrings or a Tattoo.") "There were infections. They weren't well cared for."

As it would be expected, Crawford vociferously disputes that charge and insists that she used sterile needles and surgical soap in order to carry out her dirty work. "They were definitely loved, well-fed, no fleas, clipped nails, and they were happy," she declared to the Associated Press on January 23rd. (See "Pennsylvania Pet Groomer Charged with Piercing Kittens.")

Nevertheless, even Crawford admitted to arresting officers that the kittens cried when she pierced them. "She caused them pain," Pedri added for Citizens Voice. "She did this to sell them to make money."

That is putting the case rather mildly in that Crawford is not only greedy but cheap as well. While the age-old use of rubber bands in order to castrate bulls, dogs, and cats stubbornly persists in some rural areas, most pet owners who cruelly choose to dock the tails of their companion animals usually are willing to spring for the services of a qualified veterinarian. (See Cat Defender post of February 26, 2008 entitled "The Dark Side of Spay and Neuter: Veterinarian Botched Surgeries and Back Alley Castrations Claim the Lives of Numerous Cats.")

Fannick's amateurish attempt to pass off his client's mutilations as a form of art does not wash either. "She chose to pierce them because it was neat, or to beautify them; other people buy gold collars, or dress their pets in clothes and hats and have birthday parties," he told the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre on February 18th. (See "Cat Abuse Case Sent to Court.")

He evidently is oblivious to the distinction between inanimate objects, such as blocks of stone used in sculpturing, and live animals. At the very least, his sentiments display a callous disregard for anti-cruelty statutes.

Having little patience for either prevaricators or their sophistry, Pedri shot back in same article by declaring, "That constitutes cruelty! It inflicted pain and caused infections."

Even saying that much hardly begins to do justice to all the harmful side effects that body piercings engender. For instance, in addition to pain and infections, such procedures sometimes lead to cancerous growths.

Moreover, dangling jewelry and leashes can easily snag on foreign objects and do extensive damage to body tissues as well as inflict horrific pain. Jewelry also can damage delicate cartilage in cats' ears as well as impair their hearing.

If anesthesia is used, there always is the possibility that the person administering the drug will use too much and inadvertently kill the animal. That is a common problem whenever cats are sedated for either sterilization or travel by air.

No additional information has been made public about the fate of the adult cat and dog found at Crawford's place of business. The SPCA, however, is holding on to the three kittens as evidence to be used at Crawford's upcoming trial.

Considering all that the kittens have been put through so far, that is not only cruel and inhumane but unnecessary as well. Since the jewelry has been removed, evidence of the abuse will disappear as soon as the cats' fur grows back and their wounds heal.

Photographs of the cats taken at the time of the raid plus the testimony of the SPCA and the attending veterinarian are all that is needed. The kittens should have been adopted out months ago instead of being indefinitely confined to cages until the case against Crawford and any subsequent appeals are adjudicated.

As far as it is known, Pawside Parlor is still open for business as a dog grooming salon although Crawford is singing the do-re-mi blues these days. "My name is ruined, my reputation's ruined, (and) my business is ruined," she moaned to the Associated Press in the article cited supra.

To give the devil his due, Fannick is totally justified in pointing out that animal modification is by no means limited to body piercings. Most notably, the tattooing of cats and dogs for the purpose of identification is standard practice in France and Quebec while veterinarians in the southern United States sometimes tattoo the faces of white-colored cats, dogs, and horses supposedly to prevent them from developing sun-related cancers.

Cows and horses are routinely branded and as soon as the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is implemented all animals used in food production will be implanted with microchips that will allow satellites to track their movements from birth to slaughter. Implanted microchips also have become popular in recent years as a means of keeping track of pets in spite of the health hazards associated with their use. (See Cat Defender post of September 21, 2007 entitled "FDA Is Suppressing Research That Shows Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer in Mice, Rats, and Dogs.")

The same concerns are equally applicable to the wide scale use of implanted microchips and radio collars in order to spy on wildlife. (See Cat Defender posts of April 17, 2006, May 4, 2006, and February 29, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Hal the Central Park Coyote Is Suffocated to Death by Wildlife Biologists Attempting to Tag Him," "Scientific Community's Use of High-Tech Surveillance Is Aimed at Subjugating, Not Saving, the Animals," and "The Repeated Hounding Down and Tagging of Walruses Exposes Electronic Surveillance as Not Only Cruel but a Fraud.")

Tail dockings, debarking, and onychectomies are so common that their legitimacy is seldom questioned. The sterilization and ear-tipping of desexed feral cats also are blatant forms of mutilation.

Still other individuals get a kick out of divesting cats of their fur. (See Cat Defender post of December 9, 2008 entitled "Shaved from Head to Tail and Left to Freeze to Death in the Ontario Cold, Chopper Is Saved at the Last Minute.")

Spray-painting cats and dogs in garish colors also has its adherents. For instance, the Calgary Humane Society has taken in four kittens in recent months that were covered in paint. (See The Edmonton Sun, January 29, 2009, "Sicko Spray-Paints Stray Felines.")

It is a bit of a stretch, but unnecessary and useless vaccinations administered by moneygrubbing veterinarians and which subsequently lead to the development of vaccine associated sarcomas (VAS) also could be viewed as a form of mutilation.

The lesson to be learned from all of these abuses is that respecting the sanctity of all animal life is not sufficient; the integrity of their bodies as well as their freedom also must be preserved. Mutilations occasionally can be justified, such as to prevent the birth of animals that society is only going to turn around and kill anyway, but the creation of Gothic kittens in order to turn a fast and easy buck does not fall within that purview.

As a general rule, all animal mutilations should be regarded as suspect with the burden of proof resting with the mutilators. If they are unable to meet this legal standard, jurists and legislators have a duty to decide in favor of the animals.

Photos: Times Leader (mutilated kitten) and Sky News (kitten advertised as "Snarley Monster").