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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, August 27, 2009

Casper Treats Himself to an Unescorted Tour Around Plymouth Each Morning Courtesy of the Number Three Bus

"He sits patiently in the queue good as gold. It'll be person, person, person, cat, person, person."
-- Susan Finden

Another English cat with a mind all his own has created quite a sensation by riding public transportation all by his lonesome. This time around it is a twelve-year-old longhaired tuxedo named Casper who has been taking excursion tours around the Devon city of Plymouth for the past four years.

Each day at promptly 10:55 a.m., he lines up outside his house with other commuters in order to take First Bus's number three line on a one-hour, eleven-mile jaunt around town. "He sits patiently in the queue good as gold," his guardian, sixty-five-year-old care giver Susan Finden, told The Sun on July 30th. (See "I've Got a Bus Puss.") "It'll be person, person, person, cat, person, person."

Although First Bus certainly does not discriminate against its feline clientele as far as seating is concerned, Casper always elects of his own volition to sit in the rear. (See photo above.)

The trip itself takes him through central Plymouth, the suburban villages of St. Budeaux and Keyham, past Her Majesty's Naval Base Devonport, and finally the infamous red light district of Stonehouse. After all, it is not possible to operate a military installation without plenty of whorehouses nearby. (See map below.)

As to how he got started taking the bus, Finden strongly suspects that old feline bugaboo, curiosity, is to blame. "I used to catch the odd bus, too, so maybe he saw me and got curious what I was doing," she explained to the Daily Telegraph on July 30th. (See "Pet Cat Catches the Daily Bus for Four Years.")

His gregarious nature also could factor into the equation somewhere. "He does love people, and I don't know what the attraction is but he loves big vehicles like lorries and buses," she told the BBC on July 29th. (See "Commuter Cat Is Star of Bus Route.") A video also accompanies this article.

Nevertheless, even she was left in the dark as to where the cat that she adopted from a shelter in 2002 slunk off to every day until one of the drivers enlightened her as to his now famous exploits. Up until then she had limited her involvement in his disappearing act to naming him after the famous cartoon character Casper the Friendly Ghost. (See photo below of her with Casper.)

Once on board, Casper generally keeps pretty much to himself. "He usually just curls up at the back of the bus," driver Rob Stonehouse (of no known connection to the red light district) told the Daily Telegraph in the article cited supra. "Sometimes he nips between people's legs but he never causes any trouble."

For their part, the drivers watch out for him and make sure that he gets off at the right stop. Perhaps even more amazingly, the petit fait that he has traveled an estimated twenty-thousand miles without ever once feeding the farebox does not seem to trouble either the drivers or management one bit.

"We wouldn't sell a cat a Rover ticket," a spokesman for First Bus told The Sun. "But in cat years he's an OAP (Old Age Pensioner) so he'd get a free bus pass anyway." That is definitely true because in human terms Casper is the equivalent of sixty-four-years-old.

Actually, First Bus has a reputation of being kindly disposed toward cats. For instance, back on February 10th driver Peter Whiting stopped in the rain and picked up a nameless black cat with white paws that had been hit by a motorist and left for dead on Fakenham Road in the Taverham section of Norwich.

Once on board, he and several other concerned passengers cared for it as best as they could under the circumstances. Later, commuter Jo Laker took the cat to a veterinary hospital where it was diagnosed to have suffered a broken jaw, concussion, and possibly brain damage. It was, thankfully, expected to live.

"...All the passengers on the bus were rallying around with tissues and things to clean it up," Linda Barrington-Smith, another rider, said at the time. "I thought it was really good that the bus driver had picked it up. It's nice to know that people care about animals to that extent. The whole bus was helping." (See Cat Defender post of February 21, 2009 entitled "Daring Rescue in the Sky Spares the Life of a Cat Dumped on an Overpass in Houston.")

Casper's adventures follow upon the heels of those of a white-colored cat known only as Macavity who began riding the number three-hundred-thirty-one bus, which operates between Walsall and Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, back in January of 2007. He boards the coach at Churchill Road in Walsall two to three times a week and rides about four-hundred meters before disembarking in front of a row of shops. (See photo montage below.)

Like his fictional namesake from out of the pages of T. S. Eliot's immortal Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, Macavity is a mysterious cat. First of all, no one is quite sure where he lives or who owns him. Even his real name is a secret. Perhaps even more intriguing is how he gets home at night since he only rides one-way.

The one thing that is not in dispute, however, is his gentlemanly manners. "I suppose he is the perfect passenger really," fellow commuter Paul Brennan told the Daily Mail on April 9, 2007. (See "Mystery Cat Takes Regular Bus to the Shops.") "He sits quietly, minds his own business, and then gets off."

While it has not been possible to determine whether or not the heterochromial feline is still riding the number three-hundred-thirty-one, hopefully he is still safe and sound and has not met with any mishaps during his unescorted rambles through the dangerous streets of Walsall. (See Cat Defender post of April 19, 2007 entitled "Bus-Hopping Macavity Earns High Praise from His Fellow Commuters for Being the 'Perfect Passenger'.")

Although Tony Blair and his cronies did their level best to transform Old Blighty into a police state, it is refreshing that, at least outside of London, the country maintains enough of its old quaintness that cats are still welcome on its buses.

Photos: The Sun (Casper, map, and Finden) and Daily Mail (Macavity).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Combine Operator Severs Howard's Front Paws and Leaves Him in a Ditch to Die but He Is Saved at the Last Minute by a Pair of Compassionate Lads

"Just the incredible spirit of this kitten to be surviving out there for a week. I have no idea how he survived."
-- Jamie McAloon Lampman of Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter

Ten-week-old Howard was playing in a wheat field in Alaiedon Township, Michigan, one day in late July when he was run over by the operator of a harvest combine. His front paws were severed and left dangling at the ends of his tiny legs. He also sustained an unspecified injury to one of his rear legs.

Despite the horrific pain and loss of blood, he was able to somehow crawl into a ditch alongside the field. He remained there for at least a week suspended between life and death and with nothing to either eat or drink while his badly mangled flesh began to rot away and the maggots attacked him like a horde of famished locusts.

Most likely that ditch would have become his final resting place as so many others like it have come to serve countless other feline victims of ailurophobic motorists and farm equipment operators. The fact that he did not join that lengthy list of unrecorded fatalities is attributable to the better late than never intervention on July 30th of ten-year-old Kyle Billingslea and his eight-year-old brother, Bryce, who heard his plaintive cries for help as they were riding their bicycles down Willoughby Road.

While it would have been as easy as pie for them to have either turned away or, tant pis, made sport of Howard's misery, that is not what they did. Fighting off the natural revulsion that they surely must have felt at the sight of the maggots and the god-awful smell emanating from his body, they instead picked him up and carried him to a nearby farmhouse.

The unidentified landlord then summoned Ingham County Animal Control Officer Gary Ireland who came and collected the slowly dying kitten. Although he doubted that Howard would make it through the night, he nevertheless compassionately transferred him to the nearby Lansing Veterinary Medical Center.

Against all odds, Howard was still alive the next morning. Unfortunately, it was not possible to save his injured paws and they had to be surgically removed.

A certain amount of infected tissue on his legs also had to be excised but veterinarians were able to save the appendages themselves. The trick now is going to be getting new tissue to grow on his stumps.

He underwent a second surgery recently and is said to be doing well but he is still going to need several more operations plus prosthetics in ordered to replace his severed paws. The good news, however, is that he is not only going to live but should be able to lead a relatively normal life.

Otherwise, he is reportedly eating well and gaining strength daily. He is even able to sit up and is attempting to stand. (See photos above and below.)

It also helps that he has Dr. Mark Williamson in his corner. "We're doing what we can to get him through this," he pledged to the Lansing State Journal on August 1st. (See "Kitten Still Struggling to Survive after Losing Front Paws.") "He's a trouper. He purrs when we're in there with him." (See bottom photo of him and Howard.)

"It's as if he knows people are pulling for him and he doesn't want to let them down," Jamie McAloon Lampman of Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter (ICACS) in nearby Mason stated recently on the department's web site. "He has endured pain most other cats would not have survived, yet he purrs at the touch of a human hand and seems to have the heart of not a kitten, but a lion."

That certainly would seem to be the case considering all that he has been forced to endure. For in addition to the pain and other deprivations, he had to live with the constant fear that his presence would be detected by a predator and without either his claws or the use of his legs he would not have had a prayer in Hell of defending himself. Sleep would have been pretty much impossible and the psychological horrors occasioned by the hopelessness of his predicament must have been nearly unbearable.

"Just the incredible spirit of this kitten to be surviving out there for a week," Lampman marveled to the Lansing State Journal in the article cited supra. "I have no idea how he survived."

Cats never cease to amaze by how often they are able to find raisons d'etre in situations where most men either would have given up altogether or taken the Roman way out of their miseries. This is particularly true of cats that have been trapped inside shipping crates and thus forced to endure lengthy sea voyages. (See Cat Defender posts of December 9, 2005 and May 17, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Adventurous Wisconsin Cat Named Emily Makes Unscheduled Trip to France in Hold of Cargo Ship" and "North Carolina Shelter Plotting to Kill Cat That Survived Being Trapped for Thirty-Five Days in Cargo Hold of Ship from China.")

While few occurrences could ever come close to equaling what Howard has accomplished, the transformative effect that he has had on the residents of Alaiedon and the surrounding areas has been pretty remarkable in itself. "He is inspirational to all he comes in contact with from the young boys who saved him, to the veterinarians, the animal control officers, and all those who have offered to help with his medical costs," ICACS states on its web site. "As he continues to thrive so does our faith in the human race."

In a certain sense, it could be argued that Howard has done more for the residents of Alaiedon than they have done for him. "His story has evoked compassion and empathy within our community and for that we all owe Howard a debt of thanks," ICACS goes on to say. "Who would have thought he would be the one who would give us so much more than we could give him: a humane sense of community."

Lampman put the case much more succinctly when she told the Lansing State Journal, "He stole the hearts of everyone...who looked at him."

As remarkable as Howard's rescue and recovery have proven to be, this tragic case has raised several troubling issues that have yet to be addressed. In particular, although au premier coup d'oeil it would appear that he was born in the wild, his friendly disposition toward humans tends to indicate otherwise.

If that is indeed the case, it is nothing short of appalling that his previous caretaker has not come forward to reclaim him. This callous attitude could be attributable to either financial considerations or simply an uncaring attitude.

In the end it is perhaps just as well because Williamson and ICACS are not expending this much effort and resources on him only to turn around and let just anyone adopt him. It is a sure bet that all prospective adopters will be vetted thoroughly before a good home is selected for him.

Secondly, the combine operator who ran over Howard has been neither identified nor charged. Moreover, it is doubtful that either the police or humane officials are even bothering to look for him.

After all, Alaiedon is located in the heart of farm country and killing animals, either for profit or by accident, is looked upon as being simply part of a normal day's toil.

While it is theoretically possible that the attack could have been accidental, that is highly unlikely. Cats and kittens run like the wind at the approach of humans and this is doubly true of large, noisy vehicles, such as cars, combines, and trains. The truth likely never will see the light of day, but it is a good bet that Howard was run down deliberately.

Of all the modern equipment employed in the production of agriculture, combines in particular exact a heavy toll upon animals and this is borne out by the multitudes of dead squirrels, rabbits, opossums, groundhogs, snakes, birds, and other animals that litter farm fields once they have been divested of their wheat, oats, barley, maize, soybeans, flax, and other crops. While the victims of these kamikaze combine operators are predominantly wildlife, occasionally domestic animals, such as Howard, are injured and killed as well.

Worst still, the protection of animals from the ravages of modern farming techniques is not even an issue. Neither farmers nor consumers care about their safety and even animal welfare groups are reluctant to take on with big agriculture.

Of course, it is axiomatic that the thoroughly loathsome United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) would never lift a finger in order to protect cats. On the contrary, it devotes a significant portion of the welfare dollars that it coaxes out of taxpayers to demonizing and exterminating as many of them as it can. (See Cat Defender posts of April 28, 2009 and May 24, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Quislings at the Humane Society Sell Out San Nicolas's Cats to the Assassins at the Diabolical United States Fish and Wildlife Service" and "USDA and Fish and Wildlife Service Commence Trapping and Killing Cats on Florida's Big Pine Key.")

Considerably less publicized is the fact that it seldom acts to protect even threatened and endangered species of wildlife. Instead, it spends the majority of its time and resources pimping and whoring for farmers, ranchers, and other economic interests.

Most recently, it failed to protect the white-faced Ibis from being slaughtered by wheat farmers in spite of the fact that the bird comes under the purview of the International Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Consequently, three-thousand eggs and hatchlings were destroyed by wheat combine operators on April 30th of last year in Tulare County, forty-five miles north of Bakersfield. (See Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2008, "Killing of Birds by Harvesting Machines Is Under Investigation.")

The USFWS's sister agency, the USDA's Wildlife Services, additionally exterminates millions of wild animals each year at the request of farmers and other financial concerns. (See Cat Defender post of September 15, 2005 entitled "United States Government Exterminates Millions of Wild Animals at the Behest of Capitalists.")

Currently, it is whetting its insatiable appetite for animal blood by systematically exterminating up to twenty-thousand Canada geese in and around New York City. (See the CBC's As It Happens, June 17, 2009, "New York Kills Geese.")

While the deleterious effects that fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, annuals, and genetically-modified organisms have upon the environment receive considerable attention, agriculture's impact upon animals is seldom discussed. First of all, land used in the production of food must be cleared of all trees, plants, shrubs, and grasses. Next, the soil must be tilled and, most often, polluted.

All of these activities not only deprive animals of their homes but their food sources as well. Furthermore, their reproductive cycles and nurturing activities are disrupted as well. Many of these same calamities also are visited upon a multitude of valuable insects such as bees and butterflies.

Whenever these displaced animals and insects attempt to reclaim what little is left of their former abodes their only reward is to be chopped to bits and pieces by the operators of farm equipment. Even those lucky enough to escape with their lives seldom have anywhere else to live.

Whereas the loss of habitat occasioned by a growing demand for food may be largely unpreventable, there are several measures that farmers could implement in order to safeguard both domestic and wild animals from being killed and maimed by combine operators. For starters, fields should be cleared of all animals beforehand.

Secondly, crop harvesting should be restricted to daylight hours and combine operators should be instructed to go about their business more deliberately so as to watch out for animals. Unfortunately, since time is money it is unlikely that these suggestions will be received favorably.

"The debate over climate change completely distorts our perspective," Josef Reichholf, a biologist at the Munchen State Zoo told Der Spiegel on November 23, 2007. (See "Biologists Debate Relocating Imperiled Species.") "Industrial-scale farming is the number one killer of species."

As for Howard, with his medical bill expected to exceed $2,000, he desperately needs the public's continued support. Anyone willing to be of assistance can contact the ICACS by snail mail at 600 Curtis Street, Mason, Michigan 48854 or by telephone at (517) 676-8376.

For whatever reason, ICACS has elected not to use its own money in order to cover the cost of Howard's treatment. This is absurd! The care of injured cats and other animals is a legitimate public expenditure if there ever was one.

In fact, spending money to treat injured animals is far preferable to squandering trillions of dollars on imperialistic wars, Wall Street crooks, and incorrigible automakers. Unfortunately, as the current debate over health care reform has demonstrated, Americans have little compassion for their fellow citizens, let alone the animals.

Finally, the Billingslea brothers are to be commended for their act of compassion. In an age where most juveniles are better known for the unconscionable crimes that they perpetrate against cats, they are indeed a breath of fresh air. (See Cat Defender posts of June 1, 2009, November 24, 2008, and June 8, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Blind and Deaf on Her Left Side as the Result of a Bow and Arrow Attack by a Juvenile Miscreant, Valentine Is Still Looking for a Permanent Home," "Kilo's Killer Walks in a Lark but the Joke Is on the Disgraceful English Judicial System," and "Adam Is Persevering Throughout All the Pain Two Years after Having Been Torched by Giggling Teenage Girls in Santa Rosa.")

Their parents obviously have instilled in them an abiding appreciation for cats and other animals. They accordingly should be extremely proud of them because they are genuine heroes in every sense of the word.

Photos: Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter.

Monday, August 17, 2009

America's Insane Love Affair with Criminals Continues as a Drunkard Who Sliced Open Scatt with a Box Cutter Gets Off with Time on the Water Wagon

"I very, very much regret what happened that night. I am not that kind of person."
-- Tracy A. Clark

"Six assaults against people and now this against a cat and you're up here trying to tell me you're not that kind of a person?"
-- Judge Michael C. Hayden

Writers as diverse as Aristophanes, William Shakespeare, and Charles Dickens have long decried the perverse workings of the law. The long awaited July 17th trial of Tracy A. Clark in King County Superior Court in Seattle for his unprovoked and savage attack upon a homeless shelter therapy cat named Scatt provided yet another poignant example of a judge and a prosecutor who, like the Epicurean gods, surely must reside in the intermundia because they behave as if they were completely divorced from objective reality. (See photo above of the defendant.)

Back on April 19th while he was staying at a homeless shelter run by Cross Church in south Seattle, Clark grabbed Scatt by the throat and used a box cutter in order to open up an eight-inch gash that stretched from the cat's collarbone to his tail. The drunken brute next flung the defenseless moggy against a wall and in the process broke three of his ribs. (See photo below of Scatt and his horrific injuries.)

Scatt later was discovered bleeding and near death in the church's parking lot by shelter employee Michael Stinnette who rushed him to South Seattle Veterinary Hospital where physicians somehow were able to save his life. He was discharged from the facility on April 28th and at last report was still living at the home of Pastor Jerry Wilson and his wife, Jennifer.

Not contented with simply committing this heinous assault, Clark decided to share his devilry with a fellow inmate at the shelter and this is what ultimately led to his undoing. To his credit, the fellow lodger ratted out Clark and as the result officers from the King County Sheriff's Department were able to arrest him the following day.

"A cat has been hurt so horribly, I can't even look at the wounds," a deputy called in to investigate this disturbing case later told Pasado's Safe Haven of nearby Sultan. (See Cat Defender post of May 6, 2009 entitled "Resident at a Church-Run Homeless Shelter Uses a Box Cutter in Order to Gut Scatt from Collarbone to Tail.")

On April 22nd, prosecutors charged Clark with one count of first degree animal cruelty. At first he ludicrously claimed that he had gutted Scatt in self-defense but on June 29th he abruptly changed his tune and pled guilty.

Like the Jekyll and Hyde character that he is, the forty-eight-year-old drifter from Vancouver, Washington, put on a charm offensive for the benefit of Judge Michael C. Hayden. "I very, very much regret what happened that night. I am not that kind of person," he is quoted as having told the judge by KOMO-TV of Seattle on July 17th. (See "Man Who Slit Open Church Cat Gets Nine Months.") "I apologize to the court. I apologize to Scatt very much. I mean that from my heart."

At first Hayden appeared not to have been taken in by Clark's feigned remorse. "Six assaults against people and now this against a cat and you're up here trying to tell me you're not that kind of person." he shot back. "(How) would you explain your six prior assaults on people?"

"Drinking," was the defendant's one-word reply according to the July 17th edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. (See "Man Gets Nine Months for Stabbing Church Therapy Cat.")

"You are using alcohol as an excuse," Hayden chastised him. "You're the one who drinks the alcohol, you're the one who beats up people when you're drinking alcohol, and now you just happen to have done it to a cat."

From his tough talk it initially appeared that Hayden is a judge who cares about cats and takes crimes committed against them seriously. Sadly, that ultimately proved not to be the case as his whirlwind of rhetoric about justice quickly blew itself out into a pip-squeak fart of injustice.

Instead of locking up this serial violent offender for the remainder of his days, Hayden sentenced him to spend his nights in jail for the next nine months. He is to spend his days drying out at the King County Community Center for Alternative Programs. (See photo below of Clark and his attorney, Aimee Sutton, standing before Hayden.)

Press reports are silent on the matter, but he additionally could be eligible to receive time off for good behavior and as a result be out of jail fairly soon. Moreover, he apparently was not placed on either probation or required to perform any community service.

Perhaps most startling of all, Hayden refused to hold him accountable for Scatt's not insubstantial medical bills which are currently being paid by Pasado's. Since Clark drinks like a bleeding fish all the time and sometimes does illicit drugs, he obviously is getting money from somewhere and therefore should have been required to have made restitution.

As things now stand it certainly appears that Clark's only real punishment was the nearly three months that he spent in the can while awaiting trial and that was necessitated solely because of his inability to make bail. If he had been able to have posted ten per cent of the $50,000 bond under which he was being held, he would have gotten away scot-free.

It additionally is acutely disturbing that Hayden apparently did not express one iota of concern for Scatt who nearly had his life taken away from him and still faces months of painful recuperation. Au contraire, all of his compassion and concern were lavished on Clark.

It is highly unlikely that Hayden would still be sitting on the bench if Clark's victim had been a man or a woman. After all, any legitimate judicial system should save its compassion for the victims of violent crime, whether they be animals, humans, or the environment, and not reward miscreants like Clark.

The prosecution's handling of this case was every bit as disgraceful as Hayden's ludicrous ruling. For starters, prosecutor Craig Peterson demonstrated from the outset how little he values feline life by seeking only a nine-month sentence.

In spite of that, he had the unmitigated chutzpah to tell the Seattle Post-Intelligencer afterwards that he hoped that the slap-on-the-wrists Clark had received would deter others from abusing defenseless animals. If anything, both his and Hayden's handiwork serve as a green light to cat-haters all over Seattle that they can commit their dastardly deeds with impunity. (See photo below of Peterson with Clark as he is being led back to jail after sentencing.)

Even the management of Pasado's was left giddy by the decision. "Scatt Gets Justice! Tracy Clark Gets Nine Months," it proclaimed July 17th on its web site. "Judge Hayden wasn't fooled by Tracy Clark's insincere claim of regretting his actions."

There are only two possible explanations for non sequiturs of that sort. Either officials of Pasado's have a very underdeveloped sense of justice or they have been in Clark's hooch.

The organization's operations manager, Brendan Brannen, struck a much more sober tone when he was interviewed by KOMO-TV. "He (Clark) had six priors for violence and then he's put in there for nine months. No, it doesn't fit the crime but at least it does show that you will get punished," he stated in a video accompanying the article cited supra.

Other than issuing those contradictory statements, Pasado's limited its involvement in the trial to photographing Clark and thanking Peterson for his lackluster effort. Nonetheless, that was considerably more support than Scatt received from the good Christians at Cross Church who did not even bother to either attend the proceedings or to testify on his behalf.

More than likely their dereliction of responsibility can be explained by their financial interest in Clark. His shyster, Aimee Sutton, rendered a certain amount of credence to this view when she told The Seattle Times on July 18th that the church had invited Clark to return to its shelter so long as he apologized to Scatt. (See "Man Sentenced to Nine Months for Stabbing 'Therapy Cat'.")

While it is not known where Cross Church gets its moola, many church-run shelters are funded by the government. C'est-a-dire, the politicians and bureaucrats pay them a bounty for every homeless person that they drag off the streets and lock up for the night.

In fact, these moneygrubbing followers of Christ often can be spotted prowling such familiar haunts of the dispossessed as bus and train depots in search of their next victims. The entire shelter system is a big racket and this is proven by the petit fait that the genuinely needy are lumped in under the same roof with criminals, drunkards, dope addicts, and mental patients.

Assaults, thefts, communicable diseases, and nightly raids by the police are de rigueur. Consequently, most halfway decent individuals avoid these hellholes like the plague and instead choose to rough it either in the woods, on the street, or on buses and trains.

The fraudulent nature of this despicable system is further demonstrated by the fact that very few inmates ever graduate to either permanent abodes or jobs. Shelters are thus ends in themselves and that is why Cross Church so desperately wants Clark to return to the fold; he is one of their meal tickets.

The lone dissenting voice belongs to the church's Antonio Evans who told The Seattle Times on June 30th that he was afraid Clark would return one day and finish off Scatt for good. (See "Man Pleads Guilty to Stabbing Church's Therapy Cat.")

Fortunately, the Wilsons have not announced any intention of returning Scatt to the church although they have rebuffed Pasado's offer to secure a permanent home for him. Hopefully, they will give him the medical treatment, security, and love that he so richly deserves.

It is nevertheless imperative that Pasado's remain vigilant because Christians cannot be trusted to keep their word anymore than nonbelievers. (See Cat Defender posts of July 30, 2009 and February 12, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Ferals Living at a Baltimore Church Find Out the Hard Way That Hatred of Cats is Every Bit as Christian as Unleavened Bread and Cheap Wine" and "God-Fearing Baptists at Eastern University Kill Off Their Feral Cats on the Sly while Students Are Away on Christmas Break.")

As long as Cross Church continues its disastrous policy of giving shelter to criminals, drunkards, dope addicts, and mental patients, no cat is going to be safe on the premises. Moreover, the church should be lending a helping hand to the genuinely needy instead of squandering precious resources on habitual losers.

Even more alarming, it is highly unlikely that society has heard the last of Clark. Once he gets out of jail, he is sooner or later going to get in his cups and commit more violent offenses against both cats and individuals.

Besides, since there is nothing more aggravating to an already parched palate than to be lectured day in and day out about the evils of drink, the time that he spends in rehab could actually end up exacerbating his drinking problem. Es ertrinken mehr im Glas als in allen Waessern.

Consequently, the next time that he commits a violent offense the victim's blood is going to be all over Hayden's and Peterson's hands. Not only have they failed to provide justice for Scatt but to protect society as well.

As Barbara Ehrenreich pointed out in the August 9th edition of The New York Times, it is ridiculous for society to imprison nonviolent offenders for such petty offenses as sleeping in the street, littering, jaywalking, panhandling, and refusing to pay their bus and rail fares. (See "Is It Now a Crime to Be Poor?") She neglected to add, however, that it is every bit as crazy not to permanently jail repeat violent offenders.

Photos: KOMO-TV (Clark with officers), Pasado's Safe Haven (Scatt and Clark and Sutton before Hayden), and Casey McNerthway of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Clark and Peterson with officers).e

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sybil, 10 Downing Street's Former First Feline, Dies Unexpectedly from an Undisclosed Illness

"As numerous thinkers have noted, cats often have a soothing quality on their owners. Granted, the economy is looking as shaky as a newborn kitten at the moment, but imagine what condition it might be in now without Sybil."
-- The Independent's eulogy

It has been a bad year for political cats. George Bush's cat, India, passed away back in January while Bill Clinton's cat, Socks, was killed off in March. Both felines were eighteen-years-old. (See Cat Defender posts of January 24, 2009, March 12, 2009, and December 24, 2008 entitled, respectively, "India Dies at Age Eighteen Leaving the White House Without a Resident Feline for the First Time in Sixteen Years," "Too Cheap and Lazy to Care for Him During His Final Days, Betty Currie Has Socks Killed Off and His Corpse Burned," and "Former First Cat Socks Is Gravely Ill with Cancer and Other Assorted Maladies.")

Now comes the sad news that the former First Feline of 10 Downing Street in London, Sybil, has died. Press reports are sketchy and contradictory, but apparently she died July 27th at the London home of an acquaintance of her former owners, Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling and his wife, Maggie.

Neither the cause of death nor her age have been disclosed. All that is known is that she died after a brief illness.

She could have succumbed to natural causes or been deliberately killed off by her new guardians simply because she had become ill. Since the Darlings are keeping mum on the subject and Fleet Street has decided to play along, the public likely will never know the truth surrounding her death.

From photographs taken of her, she certainly does not look like as especially old cat. Of course, it is difficult to gauge the age of a cat. (See photos above and below.)

The black and white moggy created quite a media splash when she arrived with the Darlings from Edinburgh on September 10, 2007. "Sybil has been brought down because there are mice here," Darling said at the time. "She's a really good mouser." (See Cat Defender post of September 19, 2007 entitled "After a Dreary Ten-Year Absence, Number 10 Downing Street Has a New Resident Feline and Her Name Is Sybil.")

Since Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife, Sarah, elected to bunk at roomier Number 11, Sybil and the Darlings moved into Number 10 where she initially was given free rein of the grounds. She even was given her own basket at the Exchequer.

For some undisclosed reason, her tenure at 10 Downing Street turned out to be a brief one and she was unceremoniously dismissed after only six months on the job. According to unsubstantiated reports that have appeared in the English media, Sybil was given the sack because of Brown's antipathy not only toward cats but all animals in general.

The less than enthusiastic welcome that she received from the Browns upon her arrival tends to lend a certain amount of credence to those rumors. "The prime minister and Sarah do not have a problem with it (Sybil's presence)," Brown's spokesman told the BBC on September 12, 2007. (See "Number 10 Gets New Feline First Lady.")

Regrettably, not a great deal is known about Sybil other than that she was adopted from a shelter by the Darlings and named after Basil Fawlty's wife from the 1970s sitcom, Fawlty Towers. Nevertheless, her meteoric rise demonstrates that she was an overachiever.

Unlike her distinguished predecessor, Humphrey, who received a hundred pounds sterling per annum for his services, she was not paid for keeping Number 10 free of rodents. Not only could that have been grounds for a sexual discrimination lawsuit but the lack of remuneration could have prompted her to walk off the job. (See Cat Defender post of April 6, 2006 entitled "Humphrey, the Cat from 10 Downing Street Who Once 'Read' His Own Obituary, Passes Away at 18.")

With the Tories expected to gain control of Parliament in next year's much anticipated national election, 10 Downing Street is unlikely to have another feline resident anytime soon because opposition leader David Cameron, like Brown, is anything but a cat-lover. (See BBC, July 29, 2009, "No Plan for Number 10 Cat -- Cameron.")

Although her tenure was indeed brief, Sybil nevertheless left her indelible mark on both the Darlings and the office of the Exchequer. "As numerous thinkers have noted, cats often have a soothing quality on their owners," The Independent eulogized her on July 29th. (See "Feline Friends.") "Granted, the economy is looking as shaky as a newborn kitten at the moment, but imagine what condition it might be in now without Sybil."

Since no funeral or burial plans have been announced, it is pretty much a given that Sybil was deprived of both and that in and of itself is a disgrace. Even a tombstone and a permanent memorial would not have been extravagant.

She will be missed.

Photos: BBC (Sybil on the go) and Press Association (Sybil up close).

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Georgia Woman Is Struck and Nearly Killed by a Motorist while Attempting to Rescue a Pair of Kittens That Had Been Dumped in the Middle of a Busy Highway

A Bruised and Battered Rachel Honeycutt in the Hospital
"Everybody I've helped has helped me so much in a situation that brings it all around. Everything you give you get back."
-- Rachel Honeycutt

It was bound to have happened sooner or later but now that it has befallen a twenty-eight-year-old Georgia woman certainly does not make it any less heartbreaking.

Sometime near the end of June, Rachel Honeycutt was motoring down the hectic East-West Connector in Cobb County when she witnessed two unidentified women tossing an unspecified number of kittens out of their vehicle into the middle of traffic. Being an animal-lover who owns seven cats and one dog, she did not think twice about pulling over, getting out of her car, and mounting a rescue.

She had almost pulled it off but when she bent down to pick up one of the kittens she was blindsided by an oncoming motorist. She was hit so hard in fact that she was knocked seventy-five feet into the air and landed on the far side of the roadway.

Battered and bruised from head to toe, she was rushed to the hospital where she was diagnosed to have suffered a shattered pelvis as well as brain and organ damage. She soon lapsed into a coma which necessitated her being placed on life-support equipment.

Although more than seven weeks have passed since the time of the accident, the good news is that she is now out of intensive care and is going to live. Her prognosis has not been publicly announced but cat-lovers all over the world are praying that she will eventually make a full recovery. 

She has recently regained her memory and that is a positive sign. "I got out to save the kittens," she recalled for WXIA-TV of Atlanta on July 31st. (See "Woman Severely Hurt Saving Kittens.") "Somebody was putting them in the middle of the East-West Connector."

Because of WXIA-TV's elliptical reporting, the fate of the kittens is unknown. The station also fails to mention if she was struck by a hit-and-run motorist or if an arrest has been made in the case.

While the kitten dumpers and the motorist apparently have gotten away scot-free with their evil deeds, the police in an act of infinite callousness have written Honeycutt a citation for being in the roadway. A similar thing happened to sixty-year-old Jozsef Vamosi of Fairfax, Virginia, on June 18th when he was given a ticket for jaywalking after he left his vehicle in order to help a gaggle of Canada geese across the busy Fairfax County Parkway in Reston.

Fortunately for him, he was not injured. (See Washington Post articles of August 3, 2009 and August 4, 2009 entitled, respectively, "The Helping Hand That Led Geese Safely Across Road Now Holds Ticket" and "Virginia Geese Guardian Given Six Months to Fly Straight.")

In addition to the citation that she received, Honeycutt has skyrocketing medical bills and is in danger of losing her new house. It has been saved for the time being by family members and friends who have been paying her mortgage as well as taking care of her cats and dog.

Having nearly lost her life plus being on the receiving end of so much pain, no one could rightfully blame Honeycutt if she were embittered by her fate. That is hardly the case, however. "I can't believe I'm okay," she instead told WXIA-TV.

If anything, her close call with death has strengthened her resolve and faith in humanity. "Everybody I've helped has helped me so much in a situation that brings it all around," she added. "Everything you give you get back."

This truly tragic case underscores once again what a no man's land the streets and highways have become for both animals and pedestrians. This perilous situation is compounded by faster and quieter running automobiles that are virtually impossible to detect until it is too late.

Distracted drivers as well as those who indulge in alcohol and drugs only serve to make a bad situation worse. The real culprit, however, is the near total disregard that the motoring public has for both animals and pedestrians alike.

Jozsef Vamosi and His Dog

Most of them care only about rushing to work so that they can collect their precious shekels and then racing home at night in order to indulge in their various vices. Not only do the rules of the road mean absolutely nothing to them, but a red light is interpreted as a signal to stop wasting time and to step on the gas. A few of them no doubt even get a kick out of running down and killing cats and pedestrians.

Nevertheless, as long as there are cretins in this world who insist upon disposing of unwanted cats and kittens on busy thoroughfares there are going to be kindhearted souls like Honeycutt who are going to be willing to risk their lives in order to save them. "I'm not at all surprised she stopped to save the kittens," Honeycutt's mother, Sheila, told WXIA-TV.

On June 22nd, for example, Carol Jones and her daughter, Kim, risked their necks in order to chase down a six-week-old kitten named Miracle that had been dumped on the McClugage Bridge near their West Peoria, Illinois, home. (See Cat Defender post of July 6, 2009 entitled "Miracle Survives a Drowning Attempt on the McClugage Bridge and Later Hitchhikes a Ride to Safety Underneath the Car of a Compassionate Motorist.")

Earlier on June 12th, Family Court Judge Catherine DiDomenico stopped on Staten Island's busy Hylan Boulevard in order to save the life of a kitten named Lucky that only moments earlier had been tossed out the window of a truck. (See Cat Defender post of July 2, 2009 entitled "Three-Week-Old Lucky Is Rescued by a Staten Island Judge after She Is Tossed Out the Window of a Pickup Truck on Hylan Boulevard.")

On July 31st of last year, Michele Laney of Moyock risked her life in order to rescue a kitten named Trooper after he was tossed out of an automobile on Route 168 South near the North Carolina and Virginia border. (See Cat Defender post of August 28, 2008 entitled "In Memoriam: Trooper Survives Being Thrown from a Speeding Automobile Only to Later Die on the Operating Table.")

Lastly, on Boxing Day of 2006, Catherine Barton of Vero Beach ventured out into traffic a pied in order to save the life of an orange-colored cat named Freeway that had been tossed out of a gray pickup truck on I-95 near Stuart, Florida. "All of a sudden, I see this cat flying in the air," she later recalled. "I was devastated when I saw him. The poor thing bounced as high as my truck." (See Cat Defender post of January 14, 2008 entitled "Freeway Miraculously Survives Being Tossed Out the Window of a Truck on Busy I-95 in South Florida.")

It is precisely the kindness of individuals like Carol and Kim Jones, Judge Catherine DiDomenico, Michele Laney, Catherine Barton, Rachel Honeycutt, and Jozsef Vamosi that keep this wicked old world from spinning out of its orbit. These dedicated and selfless individuals are therefore to be cherished and honored for their heroic deeds.

At the same time it is imperative that they and all other like-minded individuals exercise extreme caution whenever leaving their vehicles in order to rescue cats and other animals. As Rachel has found out, not everyone shares their respect for all living creatures.

It also is unconscionable for the authorities to issue citations to individuals like Honeycutt and Vamosi. She has suffered enough and certainly does not need legal troubles on top of her urgent health and financial needs.

As for Vamosi, eleven geese are alive today thanks to his concern. Moreover, these much maligned birds need all the help that they can get.

For example, earlier this summer the United States Department of Agriculture's death squad, Wildlife Services, began systematically exterminating up to twenty-thousand of them in and around New York City. (See the CBC's As It Happens, June 17, 2009, "New York Kills Geese.")

This barbaric and inhumane decision followed upon the heels of an earlier declaration of war issued against them by none other than the Connecticut Audubon Society. Birders, as it is becoming increasingly known, only care about those avian species that they find financially attractive. (See Cat Defender post of March 15. 2007 entitled "Connecticut Audubon Society Shows Its True Colors by Calling for the Slaughter of Feral Cats, Mute Swans, Mallards, Canada Geese, and Deer.")

Much more pertinently, streets and highways would not be such deathtraps for both animals and pedestrians if the police would enforce the existing traffic laws. After all, public thoroughfares should be shared but that is a dirty word in America.

In conclusion, although it is tempting to sarcastically congratulate the kitten dumpers for the pain and suffering that they have caused Rachel, that would be a total waste of time. Anyone capable of dumping kittens in traffic is equally incapable of feeling an ounce of remorse for what they have done to one of their would-be rescuers.

Photos: WXIA-TV (Honeycutt) and Linda Vamosi (Jozsef and his dog).

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Unrepentant and Totally Shameless, Ieper Once Again Makes a Mockery of Its Past Crimes Against Cats by Staging Kattenstoet

"We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form."
-- William Ralph Inge

The forty-second edition of the triennial Kattenstoet (cats' parade) was held May 10th in the tiny northwestern Belgian city of Ieper. An estimated fifty-thousand spectators, including approximately one-hundred-sixty Japanese visitors, were on hand to witness the show. (See photo above.)

"Ik denk dat er nog nooit zoveel volk is geweest," Mayor Jean-Luc Dehaene told De Morgen of Brussels on May 10th. (See "Kattenstoet Ieper trekt ruim 50.000 toeschouwers.") "Persoonlijk vind ik dat we dit jaar goed geslaagd zijn om een evenwicht te zoeken tussen nieuwe, moderne elementen en respect voor de historische en traditionele uitbeeldingen." (See photo below of him alongside a celebrant cosmetized as a cat.)

Hoteliers certainly were pleased with the turnout in that there was scarcely a spare room to be found for miles around. Local merchants also cleaned up by selling souvenirs, posters, postcards, masks, and almost anything else that either bore the likeness of a cat or could be fashioned into resembling one.

Since both locals and out-of-towners had to be fed, local restaurants and confectioneries made out like bandits. So, too, did the bars where the beer flowed freely.

The parade itself featured in excess of two-thousand costumed cat dancers, marching bands, elaborately decorated floats, and a fireworks display afterwards. (See photo below of one of the many floats.)

All of that was well and good but for their own reasons parade organizers continue to include the odious practice of Kattenworp. This involves having a jester toss velvet and polyester replicas of cats from the bell tower of two-hundred-thirty-foot-high Cloth Hall to Grote Markt below. (See bottom photo.)

During the Middle Ages, Ieper was a bustling textile manufacturing town and in order to safeguard the finished products cats were recruited to keep Cloth Hall free of rodents. Once they started to multiply beyond their need, the ungrateful and predatory merchants rewarded them for their invaluable service by disposing of them via Kattenworp.

This thoroughly hideous practice prevailed from the fourteenth century until 1817 and must have cost thousands of cats and kittens their lives. Its current reincarnation featuring toy cats was inaugurated in 1938 and Kattenstoet was added eight years later. (See Cat Defender post of May 22, 2006 entitled "Belgian Ritual of Tossing Stuffed Cats from Belfry Makes Jest of Hideous Crimes of Capitalists and Catholics.")

The inclusion of Kattenworp demonstrates both a lack of taste as well as contrition on the part of the citizens of Ieper. Moreover, to celebrate the commission of past evils inflicted upon totally innocent cats is not any different than if practitioners of genocide were to dance jigs on the graves of their victims.

Not satisfied with glorying in their forefather's crimes against cats, the good citizens of Ieper also have made the burning of witches in effigy an integral part of Kattenstoet. While it is unclear if any alleged witches actually were burned in Ieper, it would not be surprising if they were considering as how the Catholic Church spent most of the Middle Ages on the warpath against both them and cats. (See Cat Defender post of July 30, 2009 entitled "Ferals Living at a Baltimore Church Find Out the Hard Way That Hatred of Cats Is Every Bit as Christian as Unleavened Bread and Cheap Wine.")

The crimes committed by both capitalists and Christians against cats and other animals are so extensive that they dwarf by a wide margin even their transgressions against their fellow man. "We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form," former Anglican priest and dean of St. Paul's Cathedral William Ralph Inge wrote in Outspoken Essays in 1922.

As most individuals now freely acknowledge, witches never did exist and there most definitely is nothing satanic about cats, black-colored ones included. Unfortunately, neither Kattenworp nor the burning of witches in effigy do anything to dispel these age-old prejudices.

If the city of Ieper had either any decency or conscience it would not only discontinue these loathsome practices but issue a formal apology for its past crimes against both cats and women In the final analysis, there is something inherently perverse about a city that insisits upon wallowing in its own wickedness.

Even though the citizens of Ieper may steadfastly insist that Kattenworp is clean, wholesome fun, it is important to remember that it was not always that way. "Though boys throw stones at frogs in sport, the frogs do not die in sport, but in earnest." the ancient Greek poet Bion once wrote.

So, too, was the case with the thousands of cats who had their brains smashed to smithereens and their bones splintered beyond repair when they landed in Grote Markt and that is something only an inveterate ailurophobe could celebrate.

Photos: De Morgen (Kattenstoet, Dehaene, and float) and City of Ieper (jester).