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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

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Acting Solely Upon the Lies of a Cat-Hater, the Raymore Police Pump Two Shotgun Blasts into the Head of Nineteen-Year-Old Declawed and Deaf Tobey

"He was our family member. He was the sweetest animal (and he) was always there to be your friend. He didn't know a stranger."
-- Kelly Wesner

Like a broken record that keeps repeating itself, another domestic cat has been murdered by bloodthirsty cops acting upon the blatant lies supplied to them by an ailurophobe. This time the totally innocent victim was a nineteen-year-old tomcat named Tobey that belonged to Kelly Wesner of Raymore, Missouri, thirty-five kilometers outside of Kansas City. (See photo above.)

On Labor Day, Tobey went out for a stroll that eventually led him to an unidentified neighbor's garage or thereabouts and that was all it took for the cat-hater to go berserk. The neighbor's first act of animal cruelty was to turn a garden hose on Tobey. Not content with that bit of devilry, the cat-hater next telephoned the police to report that a large, vicious feral cat with rabies had scratched a young girl.

The Keystone Cops from Raymore arrived promptly on the scene and employed a catch pole in order to corral Tobey. They next took him into a field and pumped two shotgun blasts into his tiny and unsuspecting head at point-blank range. They then calmly stuffed his bloody corpse in a plastic grocery bag and nonchalantly deposited it in a nearby Dumpster.

While all of this was occurring, Wesner had been out desperately scouring the neighborhood for her cat. At some point in time she belatedly learned what had transpired and was at least able to retrieve what remained of Tobey from the Dumpster.

At no time during this deliberate and totally uncalled for coldblooded murder did the cops conduct anything remotely resembling an independent investigation. Instead, they merely took the cat-hater's lies as gospel and then appointed themselves as judge, jury, and executioners.

If they had exercised an ounce of intelligence, they would have observed that Tobey was declawed and therefore incapable of scratching anyone. In the cover-up that has ensued, the police are still ridiculously maintaining that Tobey had his nonexistent claws extended!

Secondly, since it is normal procedure for police and Animal Control officers to hold on to the corpses of rabid animals so that necropsies can be performed on them, the Raymore Police have yet to explain why they got rid of Tobey's corpse so quickly. The conclusion is therefore inescapable: either the police did not believe that Tobey had rabies or they were derelict in their duty to protect the community against a possible outbreak of the disease.

There are other inconsistencies in the cops' rather tall tale as well. Far from being a large cat, Tobey suffered from Hyperthyroidism and as a result his weight had plummeted to a measly six pounds.

Wesner additionally categorically rejects the cops' assertion that Tobey was vicious. "He was our family member," she tearfully told KSHB-TV of Kansas City in a video dated September 13th. (See "Family Upset that Police Shoot, Kill Family Pet.") "He was the sweetest animal (and he) was always there to be your friend. He didn't know a stranger." (See photo below of her and daughter Hayley Schmuck holding up a picture of Tobey.)

To make matters worse, the poor cat was deaf and unable to hear the ailurophobe shouting at him to get lost. More importantly, no one except an inveterate hater of the species could ever conceivably view a six-pound, deaf, declawed, and elderly cat as being a threat to a mouse, much let alone an adult or a child.

Nevertheless, the police insist that it took three officers to get the scratching and clawing cat into a box. "But we know that isn't true," Wesner added.

The police also are relying upon the totally spurious argument that they were justified in murdering Tobey because he was not wearing a collar. They are doubtless aware that collars and tattoos are passe and that implanted microchips, for better or worse, are rapidly emerging as the preferred mode of identification amongst cat owners. Even so, the cops did not even bother to have Tobey scanned.

"We do not know what they were thinking," Wesner told The Kansas City Star on September 10th. (See "Raymore Police Mistakenly Kill Family Cat.")

In a memo sent to the mayor and City Council, City Manager Eric Berlin provided two possible answers to Wesner's question. Instead of blaming those responsible, Berlin instead attempted to excuse Tobey's murder on the grounds that he was killed on a holiday and that he was wet.

Based upon such a jaundiced view of reality, it thus appears that all cats in Raymore may be shot on sight if either they are wet or it is a holiday. Perhaps just as disturbing, there is no way of knowing exactly how many other cats Raymore Police have disposed of in this cavalier fashion over the years.

To his credit, acting Police Chief Roger Mayberry has pledged to look into the matter of requiring an Animal Control officer to be on call twenty-four hours a day as opposed to 9 to 5 Monday through Friday, which is currently the case. He additionally has stated that in the future strays will be taken to shelters and clinics and dead animals to Wayside Waifs in Kansas City.

The wording is a bit ambiguous but hopefully that means his officers must refrain from killing cats under all circumstances. After all, the police in Raymore already have demonstrated that they have absolutely no business whatsoever making life and death decisions where cats are concerned.

As horrific as it is, Tobey's coldblooded murder by the Raymore Police is far from being an isolated incident. Au contraire, tens of thousands of cats are similarly disposed of each year by police and Animal Control officers.

Par exemple, on March 22nd of last year, Roger Oldaker's ten-year-old Persian, Elmo, was similarly executed by a police officer in Cecil, Pennsylvania, who was acting upon the unsubstantiated lies of another cat-hater. (See photo below on the right.)

"He just didn't know where to run," Oldaker said at that time. "Another cat ran away, and the policeman said if my cat would have run, he would have let him go." (See Cat Defender post of March 31, 2008 entitled "Cecil, Pennsylvania Police Officer Summarily Executes Family's Beloved Ten-Year-Olds Persian, Elmo.")

That was only because the officer was too lazy to have chased him. Besides, the killer was a twenty-five-year veteran of the force who surely must have known that it is extremely rare to come across a purebred that is either a stray or a feral.

Persians are expensive, high-maintenance cats and accordingly any that are found roaming the streets are most likely to be lost pets. Even if against all odds one of them should turn out to be actually homeless, it is easy to find a new caretaker for it.

Trigger-happy, cat-hating cops are far from being the only licensed killers that cat owners have to fear. For example, pest control companies, such as ABC Lawn and Pest of Houston, and even the RSPCA illegally trap and kill their share of cats each year. (See Cat Defender posts of August 30, 2007 and June 5, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Texas Couple Files Lawsuit Against Pest Control Company for Trapping and Gassing Their Cat, Butty," and "RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated.")

In addition to the outrageous crimes perpetuated against cats by police and Animal Control officers, pest control companies, and so-called humane organizations, private individuals, usually bird advocates, have become quite adept at using these organizations in order to do their dirty work for them. Consequently, it is imperative that they also be held criminally liable for their actions. (See Cat Defender posts of June 15, 2006, March 9, 2007, and October 30, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Serial Cat Killer on Long Island Traps Neighbors' Cats and Then Gives Them to Shelter to Exterminate," "Long Island Serial Cat Killer Guilty of Only Disorderly Conduct, Corrupt Court Rules," and "Collar Saves a Cat Named Turbo from Extermination After He Is Illegally Trapped by Bird-Loving Psychopaths.")

The same holds true for cat-haters who illegally trap and dump cats in remote areas. (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 reveal the pervasiveness of ailurophobia and the extraordinary lengths that both public and private individuals are prepared to go in order to harm cats. The coldblooded murders of Tobey and Elmo are especially revolting in that they reveal the utter contempt that some members of the law enforcement community have for feline life.

The Humane Society of Missouri, which back in July successfully busted a six-state dog fighting ring, has launched its own independent investigation into Tobey's murder but cat-lovers should not hold their breaths. The onus therefore falls by default to Wesner who must now take it upon herself to ensure that the Raymore Police and the unidentified neighbor are held liable in a court of law for their criminal conduct. It is imperative that she undertake this herculean task not only to ensure that Tobey's murder is avenged, but in order to put a stop to these types of illegal killings as well.

Looking at the big picture, discrimination against cats based solely upon either their presumed or de facto socio-economic status should be immediately outlawed. The life of a stray or a feral cat is no less precious to it than that of its domiciled cousin.

Furthermore, anyone who claims to be able to differentiate with any measurable degree of accuracy between feral, stray, and domestic cats by appearance is a liar. Even the so-called temperament tests that animal shelters and Animal Control officers administer as a way of determining which ones they are going to kill is a fraud.

Any cat that is locked up in a cage and who has ballpoint pens and other objects thrust at it is going to respond aggressively. Individuals that are arrested by cops and carted off to the clink most often respond aggressively also but no one labels them as ferals as a prelude to killing them. (See Cat Defender post of September 14, 2006 entitled "Cat Killing Season Is in Full Swing All Across America as Shelters Ramp Up Their Mass Extermination Pogroms.")

For Wesner and her family the shock and grief of losing Tobey in such a barbaric and illegal fashion must be nearly unbearable. After all, they had cared for him and shared their lives with him ever since he showed up unannounced on their front porch way back in 1991. From all accounts, he had eighteen wonderful years with the Wesners and possibly could have lived another ten.

The bottom line is that it takes a pair of morally bankrupt monsters to kill a nineteen-year-old, emaciated, deaf, and declawed cat based solely upon hearsay. It therefore is imperative that the officer who fired the fatal shots into Tobey's brain and his supervisor, who ordered the murder, be fired from their jobs and made to stand trial for murder. Hopefully, they then will be convicted and confined to some hellhole prison for the remainder of their miserable lives.

The city of Raymore and the cat-hater who sicced the cops on Tobey in the first place also must be held liable in a civil court. No one, cop, politician, or private individual, is above the law.

Photos: Kelly Wesner (Tobey), Allison Long of The Kansas City Star (Wesner and Schmuck), and Roger Oldaker (Elmo).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Luzie Sustains a Broken Hip and a Bloody Mouth Before She Is Successfully Rescued from the Busy Elbtunnel

"Als mein Mann sie hochgehoben und an sich gedrueckt hat, ist sie ihm gleich unter die Warnweste gekrabbelt."
-- Steffi de Vries

Boasting four tubes and eight lanes that carry one-hundred-fifty-thousand vehicles per day, the Neuer Elbtunnel in Hamburg is no place for pedestrians, let alone an eight-week-old kitten. Nonetheless, that is precisely where Luzie found herself stranded during the morning rush hour on June 30th.

Fortunately for her, she was spotted by a concerned motorist who telephoned the local police in order to report a "Katze in Roehre Ein des Elbtunnels." Forty-one-year-old traffic cop Soenke de Vries responded promptly to the call and was on the scene within four minutes.

He ordered the first tube closed and within six minutes he had spotted the frightened and bleeding Luzie cowering behind a support cable. "Als mein Mann sie hochgehoben und an sich gedrueckt hat, ist sie ihm gleich unter die Warnweste gekrabbelt," his thirty-five-year-old wife, Steffi, later related to the Hamburger Abendblatt on July 27th. (See "Luzies wunderbare Rettung aus dem Elbtunnel.")

Luzie was taken to an animal shelter where it was determined that she had suffered a broken hip and an unspecified injury to her mouth. Most likely she was the victim of a glancing blow from a motorist because it would have been impossible for her to have survived a direct hit.

Soenke, quite naturally, informed Steffi of the extraordinary rescue and she immediately decided that she had to have Luzie. "Wir haben staendig angerufen, um zu fragen, 'Wie es ihr geht?'," she told the Hamburger Abendblatt. "Die Mitarbeiter in der Telefonzentrale kannten unseren Namen nach einer Weile schon und haben uns dann gleich ins Katzenhaus durchgestellt."

As things eventually turned out, she got her wish in that no one came forward to claim Luzie. She now lives with the de Vrieses and their ten-year-old son, Lennart, and his cat, Emil, in nearby Buchholz. (See photo above.)

Although no one knows for sure either how long Luzie was in the tube or how she came to be stranded there in the first place, Soenke categorically rejects the notion that she was deliberately abandoned there. "Das waere zu aufaellig gewesen," he opined to the Hamburger Abendblatt. "Wahrscheinlich kam sie vom Othmarschenpark die Boeschung runter."

Without knowing exactly where within the more than three-kilometer-long tunnel Luzie was found, it perhaps would be inappropriate to dismiss out of hand de Vries' analysis of events. Nevertheless, his theory strains credulity.

First of all, it is extremely difficult to see how this diminutive kitten ever could have made it into the tunnel in the first place without being run down by a motorist. (See photo above of the entrance to the tunnel.)

Secondly, kittens and cats are frightened to death of cars, trucks, and loud noises and this petit fait alone makes it highly unlikely that Luzie ever would have ventured anywhere near the Elbtunnel on her own volition. Thirdly, the way in which she immediately crawled underneath de Vries' vest without the least bit of hesitation is a further indication that she already was accustomed to being handled by humans and was far from being a feral kitten.

Consequently, it is more likely than not that she was purposefully dumped in the tunnel and left there to die underneath the wheels of a speeding motorist. After all, disposing of unwanted cats and kittens in tunnels is far from being a novel idea.

A similar situation occurred on August 7, 2006 when the Autobahnpolizei were forced to twice in one day close the busy five-kilometer-long Roppen Tunnel in the Tirol section of western Austria in order to rescue a ten-week-old kitten named Lucky who had been purposefully dumped there. (See photo below.)

After spending at least two days in the dangerous tunnel, the black female with red spots finally was corralled and handed over to the Oberland Cattery in Wenns im Pitztal. Although she was covered in soot and nearly starved to death, Lucky was otherwise in pretty good shape and Oberland therefore immediately began searching around for a new home for her.

"She is very friendly and I don't think we'll have trouble finding a home for her," Manuela Prantl of Oberland said at the time. (See Cat Defender post of August 14, 2006 entitled "Austrian Officials Close Busy Alpine Tunnel in Order to Rescue Kitten Cruelly Abandoned by a Motorist.")

The circumstances surrounding Lucky's rescue left little room for doubt that she had been a victim of malice aforethought. "She may have been deliberately abandoned because she was right in the middle of it," Prantl told Der Spiegel on August 9, 2006. (See " 'Lucky' the Kitten Causes Tunnel Closure.") "She would have had to walk two and a half kilometers in each direction to get out."

The fact that they are dark, uncrowded at night, and offer cats no escape, would appear to be the main characteristics that make tunnels such appealing dumping grounds for cats. Far more emboldened cat-haters simply toss them out the windows of their speeding vehicles and onto busy highways in broad daylight. (See Cat Defender posts of July 2, 2009, August 28, 2008, and January 14, 2008 entitled, respectively, "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," "In Memoriam: Trooper Survives Being Thrown from a Speeding Automobile Only to Later Die on the Operating Table," and "Freeway Miraculously Survives Being Tossed Out the Window of a Truck on Busy I-95 in South Florida.")

In between those two extremes are individuals who abandon cats on bridges as well as those who go whole hog by weighting them down and tossing them into rivers and streams. (See Cat Defender posts of July 6, 2009 and January 13, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Miracle Survives a Drowning Attempt on the McClugage Bridge and Later Hitchhikes a Ride to Safety Underneath the Car of a Compassionate Motorist" and "Montana Firefighters Rescue 'Lucky' Calico Cat Who Was Caged and Purposefully Thrown into an Icy River.")

Unless concerned citizens are able to copy down the license plate numbers of individuals who insist upon killing cats by dumping them in traffic, there is little that the authorities can do in order to eradicate this odious practice. Since the Elbtunnel is equipped with seventy-two surveillance cameras, it is not too late for the polizei to review the accumulated footage in an attempt to determine exactly who was responsible for trying to kill Luzie.

Photos: Soenke and Steffi de Vries (family with Luzie and Emil), Autobahn Atlas (Elbtunnel), and Tierschutzverein fuer Tirol (Lucky).

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Home Alone in New Zealand, Friendly Little Nookie Is Repeatedly Kicked and Left for Dead by Vicious Burglars

Lambchops with Pascoe and Faulkner

"Lambchops came up to him and she was trying to lick him but he kept closing his eyes."
-- Amy Pascoe

Nookie was an extremely friendly cat and, as it so often happens, it well may have been that very characteristic that ending up costing him his life.

The one-year-old tomcat was home alone with his sister, Lambchops, mother Lisa, and another unidentified cat on the evening of August 14th when burglars broke into his Albert Street residence in Hamilton, one-hundred-thirty kilometers south of Auckland, through a locked bathroom window.

No one can say for certain what transpired during the break-in but the end result was that the burglars broke Nookie's tail in three places as well as his pelvis. He also suffered significant internal injuries, including a damaged bladder, as the result of having been repeatedly kicked like a soccer ball.

Almost as disturbing, the badly beaten and bloodied cat was not discovered until after more than twenty-four hours had elapsed following the break-in when ten-year-old Amy Pascoe found him cowering in a cupboard. "Lambchops came up to him and she was trying to lick him but he kept closing his eyes," she related to the Waikato Times of Hamilton on August 19th. (See "Cat Left for Dead after Hamilton Burglary.")

Due to the extent of his injuries, Pascoe and her thirty-three-year-old mother, Amanda Faulkner, elected to have him killed off rather than treated.

While a broken tail certainly is not a life-threatening condition, it is considerably more difficult to render an opinion on the extent of his other injuries without first having had access to his medical records. More than likely, however, he could have been saved if Faulkner had been willing to have paid for the surgical procedures and medicine that he needed.

It also is hard to believe that it took Faulkner and Pascoe so long to discover what had happened to Nookie. If they had launched an all-out search for him immediately after the entry it is conceivable that he could have been saved. Any way that the situation is analyzed it is still a pity that he had to die.

Smudgie and Felicity White

There additionally has been considerable collateral damage in that Nookie's death has left Amy so traumatized that she now has trouble sleeping at night. "I had a dream that the people came into the house again and I had to call 111," she told the Waikato Times in the article cited supra.

Much the same thing can no doubt be said for the surviving felines of the household who, in addition to being deprived from now on of Nookie's presence and companionship, were forced to witness the brutal assault as well.

The significance of the fact that Nookie was the only cat attacked during the burglary has not been lost on Amy. "He's just really friendly and really nosey," she related to the Waikato Times. "He normally brushes up to anyone to see what he can get out of them."

That quite obviously was the wrong way to have behaved around the intruders. Conversely, if he had run and hidden there is a good chance that he still would be alive today.

The thieves, who are still at large, made off with a car, lawnmower, and the keys to the house although the vehicle was later found burned and abandoned.

This marked the second time in less than three years that the Faulkners have been burglarized. Right before Christmas in 2006, they also were cleaned out by thieves.

"I've been robbed before, but it was a very different feeling," Faulkner told the New Zealand Herald of Auckland on August 19th. (See "Family's Heartbreak after Burglar Tortures, Beats Cat.") "The worst is the cat. I would rather they took all I own rather than do this. There was no need."

If the perpetrators of this despicable crime ever are apprehended, Robyn Kippenberger of the SPCA has recommended to the authorities that they be charged under the Animal Welfare Act in addition to the burglary itself. "A burglar who would spend their (sic) time (attacking a cat) has more problems than stealing," she told the New Zealand Herald in the article cited supra. "That sort of behavior has a sadistic and antisocial aspect to it."

Tiger Lily

On November 12th of last year, a seven-week-old charcoal-colored kitten named Smudgie was found locked in an icebox following a burglary at the home of Nicki White on Campbell Street in Toowoomba, Queensland. Luckily, the Whites returned home in the nick of time in order to save Smudgie but not several electronic appliances.

"I don't think it would survive for more than a couple of hours," veterinarian Alistair Webb told The Chronicle of Toowoomba on November 14th. (See "Burglars Condemn Pet Cat to a Chilly Fate.") 

At first, it was believed that the burglars were responsible for locking Smudgie in the refrigerator but detective Scott Stahlhut later inexplicably publicly stated that there was not any evidence to support that theory. Four suspects were later arrested and given a December 15th hearing in Toowoomba Magistrates Court and possibly those proceedings were able to resolve the perplexing question of who was responsible for Smudgie's close brush with death.

On May 6th of this year while Valerie Hernandez was away from her Tinton Avenue digs in the Bronx, her former roommate, seventeen-year-old career criminal Cheyenne Cherry, and a fourteen-year-old single mother and jailbird identified in court documents only as Whitney B. broke in and ransacked the place. They destroyed furniture, cut electrical wires, and splashed bleach on the walls before making off with food and DVDs. (See Cat Defender post of June 8, 2009 entitled "Adam Is Persevering Throughout All the Pain Two Years after Having Been Torched by Giggling Teenage Girls in Santa Rosa.")

That in itself is not especially newsworthy because the Bronx is rife with all sorts of crime. It was the duo's final act before exiting that has landed them in jail and the news. In what Cherry later told the police was "just a joke," they stuffed Hernandez's kitten, Tiger Lily, into a five-hundred-degree oven and burned it to death.

For this heinous crime, Bronx Supreme Court Judge Margaret Clancy charitably let off Cherry with a year in jail and the proscription that she not own any pets for three years. Whitney B. was later ordered to serve a year and a half in juvenile detention. The discrepancy in sentences is attributable to the fact that it actually was Whitney B. who placed Tiger Lily in the oven.

Cheyenne Cherry

On her way out of court, the unrepentant Cherry reveled in her own wickedness by grinning from ear to ear, hissing, and sticking out her tongue at animal rights protesters. "It's dead, bitch!" she shouted in their faces according to the July 16th edition of the New York Daily News. (See "Teen Cheyenne Cherry Taunts Animal Activists after Guilty Plea for Killing Kitten in Oven.")

Not a great deal of attention is paid to feline victims of burglars. Even more disheartening, there is not all that much that cat owners can do in order to ensure the safety of their beloved companions whenever they are away from home other than to make certain that thieves do not gain entry in the first place. That entails at the very minimum strong doors, good locks, bars over the windows, and a functioning alarm system.

If it is safe for cats to be allowed outdoors, multiple cat flaps would provide them with several escape routes should there be a break-in. The obvious drawback with that sort of arrangement is that a frightened feline might take to its heels and stay away from home for several days.

Locking away cats in either basements or attics is another possibility, but that is cruel and might not work anyway. After all, if burglars are able to get inside they are certainly capable of gaining access to basements and attics as well.

Since cats do not like to travel, taking them to work, restaurants, and the malls is not feasible either. Cat sitters are another possibility, albeit an expensive one.

That leaves only the option of forsaking all professional, social, and recreational activities and becoming a hermit. That way an individual would be at home all the time and thus able to protect his or her cats against intruders. If Charlie Brown was willing to quit school in order to devote the remainder of his days to making Snoopy happy, it is hard to imagine how anything less could be expected of devoted cat-lovers.

Since few people are willing to go to that extreme, the best that can be hoped for whenever a break-in occurs is that cats either will run away and hide or that the miscreants simply will take whatever they want and leave them alone. It goes almost without saying that the absolute worst nightmare that could be inflicted upon any cat or individual would be for them to find themselves at the mercy of sadistic killers like Cherry and Whitney B.

Cats, after all, are not dogs. They neither bark nor attack strangers so there is not any need for burglars to injure them in the first place. As every cat-lover knows only too well, the world is chock-full of ailurophobes and it is axiomatic that they are anything but rational actors.

Judges could help by starting to take crimes committed against cats seriously, but as the cases of Cherry, Whitney B., and other feline abusers and killers have demonstrated that is not about to happen anytime soon. (See Cat Defender posts of August 17, 2009 and May 14, 2009 entitled, respectively, "America's Insane Love Affair with Criminals Continues as Drunkard Who Sliced Open Scatt with a Box Cutter Gets Off with Time on the Water Wagon" and "Virginia Is for Cat Killers, Not Lovers, Now That Its Legal Establishment Has Sanctioned Donald Curtis Hunt's Drowning of Five Kittens.")

Photos: Donna Walsh of the Waikato Times (Lambchops with Pascoe and Faulkner), The Chronicle of Toowoomba  (Smudgie and Felicity White), MySpace (Tiger Lily), and Lombard of the New York Daily News (Cherry).

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Four-Year-Old Wilbur Is Ambushed and Eaten Whole by a Thirteen-Foot-Long Pet Burmese Python in Bristol

"He never stood a chance against a creature more than thirteen times his weight with such immense power. Wilbur was crushed, asphyxiated, and consumed whole...The fact he was trapped like this would have been his ultimate fear."
-- Martin Wadey

Adopted from a farmer in July of 2005 as a seven-week-old kitten, Wilbur always had been shy and skittish. Over time, however, he began to relax around his guardians, Martin and Helen Wadey, and soon became one of the bright spots of their childless marriage. (See photo above.)

The happy times came to an abrupt and horribly tragic end on June 25th when he strayed into a neighbor's backyard on Upper Sandhurst Road in the Brislington section of Bristol and was eaten by a thirteen-foot-long pet Burmese python. "We don't know whether Wilbur stumbled across the snake and it was an opportunistic kill, or if the snake was actively hunting him," Martin told the Bristol Evening Post on August 8th. (See "Pet Cat Eaten Alive by Python in Bristol Garden.")

Although they were several doors away at the time of the fatal attack, the Wadeys immediately recognized Wilbur's loud, desperate cries for help. "...We heard the python's strike from the terrified scream that came from Wilbur and the subsequent blood-chilling cries as he fought for his life," Martin continued. "Then in less than a minute, all was silent." (See photo of him and Helen on the left below.)

From the account of events given in the Bristol Evening Post it is not exactly clear how the Wadeys knew where Wilbur was and that he had been eaten by a snake. It is not even certain if they were aware that their neighbor, Darren Bishop, even owned a python.

Be that as it may, the Wadeys hustled on over to Bishop's residence and began pounding on his chamber door but he refused to open up and they were forced to go away empty-handed. They returned time and time again over the course of the next two days but he stubbornly refused to respond to their entreaties until they showed up with an inspector from the RSPCA in tow.

After demanding to be shown the snake, the unidentified inspector immediately spotted a large bulge in its abdomen and consequently ordered Bishop to run a microchip scanner over it. Sadly, this exercise in the macabre confirmed once and for all time the Wadeys' worst fears, namely, that all which remained of their beloved Wilbur now consisted of an undigested glob of fur, bones, and flesh inside the python.

While there are both positives and negatives associated with microchipping cats, it is highly unlikely that proponents of these invasive and snooping devices are going to be touting the role that one of them played in Wilbur's sad demise as a selling point. (See Cat Defender posts of May 25, 2006 and September 21, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats" and "FDA Is Suppressing Research That Shows Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer in Mice, Rats, and Dogs.")

For his part, Bishop told the RSPCA that he had left the snake unattended between the hours of 7 and 8 p.m. on the evening in question while he was inside shaving and putting away his laundry. He furthermore maintains in the face of all logic and experience that since he feeds the snake only dead prey he was unaware that it would kill a live animal.

The veracity of his comments is undermined because of his failure to account for why he did not respond when the Wadeys pounded on his portal for two days. Surely he must have heard Wilbur's screams if the Wadeys were able to have heard them several doors down the block. Even more egregious is his steadfast unwillingness to apologize to them.

Needless to say, the horrific demise of their handsome brown and white, four-year-old moggy has turned the Wadeys' lives upside down. "It was so traumatic for us. The sound of his cries and the fact we were so close by but couldn't help him has been very distressing," Martin told the Bristol Evening Post in the article cited supra.

He also is acutely distressed by what Wilbur was forced to endure during the final minutes of his all-too-brief existence. "He never stood a chance against a creature more than thirteen times his weight with such immense power," he continued. "Wilbur was crushed, asphyxiated, and consumed whole...The fact he was trapped like this would have been his ultimate fear."

As horrific as his death was, the fact that there was nothing left of Wilbur for the Wadeys to even bury has proven to be the final insult. "We couldn't say goodbye to him or bury him or any of the other things you would do if he had been run over or died another way," Martin told the Bristol Evening Post.

Unlike cobras, corals, South American bushmasters, the fer-de-lance, moccasins, rattlesnakes, vipers, and other poisonous snakes, nonvenomous pythons do not fall within the purview of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act (DWAA) of 1976. This is in spite of the fact that because of their size and strength they can be every bit as lethal as their venomous counterparts.

There are other glaring incongruities in the DWAA as well. For example, licenses are required in order for individuals to keep certain species of such harmless animals as kangaroos, monkeys, lemurs, reindeer, and armadillos.

As a result, Bishop escaped with a tongue-lashing from the RSPCA. "The RSPCA is not concerned about people keeping exotic animals as pets as long as the owners are fully informed about what they are taking on and seek professional advice from an expert on how to provide for their pet," the organization's Jude Clay told the Bristol Evening Post.

Incensed as well as heartbroken over Wilbur's untimely death, the Wadeys have inaugurated an online petition at www.justiceforwilbur.co.uk to have the DWAA amended to include Burmese pythons, boa constrictors, and all nonvenomous but lethal snakes. Much more importantly, the proposed Wilbur's Amendment also would hold owners accountable for the actions of their snakes.

"We do not want Wilbur's death to be in vain," Helen told the Bristol Evening Post. "We want those sorts of snakes to be licensed and for owners to be prosecuted if they leave them unattended as well as having to inform people living nearby that they own one."

To date, the petition had garnered four-thousand-three-hundred-sixty-four signatures in addition to the endorsement of Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy. It is unclear, however, whether the DWAA can be amended by executive fiat (10 Downing Street) or requires an act of Parliament.

Since wildlife biologists and enthusiasts so firmly believe that the only good cat is a dead one, they are sans doute overjoyed at Wilbur's death and most certainly will oppose any amending of the DWAA. Considerably more is at stake here, however, than merely the welfare of cats.

For example, a two-year-old girl in Oxford, Florida, was strangled to death on July 1st by a pet albino Burmese python that had escaped from its holding tank during the night. (See Reuters, July 1, 2009, "Pet Python Kills Florida Toddler.")

Pythons and other large snakes sometimes are employed by criminals in order to either assault individuals or to frighten them into handing over their valuables. On August 8th in the Merryweather Close section of Bradley Stoke in South Gloucestershire, for example, a gang of juveniles coaxed a green python into inflicting two bite wounds on a fourteen-year-old lad in what the authorities have branded as a racist attack. (See BBC, August 9, 2009, "Gang Uses Snake in Street Attack.")

In New York City, large snakes have been used for both intimidation and to facilitate robberies for at least the past twenty-five years. Some of the victims of these attacks have been left so traumatized that they live in mortal fear of both real and imaginary snakes.

Although they are no doubt well intended, it is unclear how the revisions that the Wadeys want made to the DWAA would have saved Wilbur. More to the point, unless they are willing to install cat fencing and thus confine their three surviving felines to their property, they are in grave danger of losing them to the same fate that befell Wilbur.

Sometimes even doing that much is insufficient in order to ensure the safety of cats because Burmese pythons and other dangerous snakes like to wander. In March of 2008, a python slithered into the yard of fifty-eight-year-old Ruth Butterworth in the Bridgeman Downs section of Brisbane, Queensland, and attacked her cat, Tuffy.

"Here was this evil thing coming out of the fence, coming down, and within a couple of seconds it had the cat," she later recalled. Not about to stand idly by while her beloved Tuffy was eaten, Butterworth began pummeling the snake with both fists until it finally gave up and crawled off into the bushes.

During this frantic life and death struggle, she was bitten twice and suffered a broken wrist but the important thing is that both she and Tuffy, unlike poor Wilbur, survived. (See photo above.)

Coco, a cat owned by Butterworth's mother, was not nearly so lucky in that days earlier it was eaten most likely by the same snake. (See Cat Defender post of March 14, 2008 entitled "Brisbane Woman Is Bitten Twice by a Voracious Python but Still Somehow Manages to Save the Life of Her Cat, Tuffy.")

Because of the threat that they pose to humans as well as cats, a good case could be made for proscribing private ownership of pythons. Since that is not in the cards presently, it is necessary that cat-owners living in close proximity to them install electrified wires on the outside of normal cat fencing in order to keep them out of their yards. It would not be a bad idea to snake-proof their residences as well just in case any of these crawling behemoths should break through their perimeter defenses.

Native to the rain forests of southeast Asia, Python molurus bivittatus is itself one of the most exploited and abused animals on the planet. Traditionally they have been killed for their valuable skins which are turned into expensive leather goods and their body parts which are a staple of folk medicine. Zoos do a bustling business trafficking in them and the Chinese even enjoy them on a plate.

In recent years, captive breeders have discovered that there is a substantial market for pet pythons and that individuals will shell out big bucks for the novelty of owning one of them. This also has led breeders to create so-called designer albino, green, granite, dwarf, leucistic, and caramel Burmese pythons.

While it is not known if these mutations are the end product solely of sophisticated breeding techniques or if DNA manipulation and possibly even cloning are involved, this naked exploitation of their genes for financial gain is a disturbing similarity that they share in common with cats and many other animals. (See Cat Defender posts of November 17, 2008, February 20, 2008, and July 10, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Mr. Green Genes' Coming Out Party Ushers In a New Era of Unspeakable Atrocities to Be Committed Against Cats by Cloners and Vivisectors," "Exotic and Hybrid Cats, Perennial Objects of Exploitation and Abuse, Are Now Being Mutilated, Abandoned, and Stolen," and "More Devilry from Scientific Community as California Company Creates World's First Hypoallergenic Cat.")

While the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and other federal agencies have been trapping, killing, and electronically monitoring an unspecified number of pythons in the Everglades National Park for years, earlier this summer the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) hired thirteen wildlife biologists and pythons experts to hunt down and kill the snakes both during the day and at night on foot as well as in airboats on state-owned land south of Lake Okeechobee. In some instances even dogs are used in order to track and bait the snakes.

Under this gruesome plan, once the biologists locate a snake they grab it by its tail, stretch it out, cut off its head, and then bash out its brains with a steel rod. According to the veterinarians who stooge for the FFWCC and USFWS, this method of eradication is considered to be humane. As of September 2nd, the killing spree had so far resulted in the extermination of seventeen pythons.

Once the pythons have been robbed of their freedom and lives, their killers are free to violate their corpses with impunity. The first order of business is to determine their sex. Following that, they are weighed, measured, and their stomachs sliced open and inventoried. The location of their capture and execution also is recorded for use in future extermination campaigns.

The data collected during these patently immoral and inhumane slaughters are then used as the basis for an endless stream of journal articles, books, and seminars, all of which put additional blood money into the killers' pockets as well as those of their paymasters at the FFWCC. The bureaucrats also employ this data in order to procure more welfare funding for additional killing sprees.

While it is not known what is done with the pythons' valuable skins and body parts, it is hard to believe that officials at FFWCC do not cash in one way or another on them as well. While it is possible that some of the snakes' remains are peddled to commercial interests for under-the-table profits, it is a given that museums, taxidermists, zoos, and researchers receive their share of them in exchange for quid pro quo considerations later on down the line.

For example, the Florida Museum of Natural History, located on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, already has received its cut of the action. On July 23rd, Larry Cretul, speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, was invited over by a grinning Kenneth Krysko, a herpetologist at the museum, to ogle a pregnant python that had been sliced open and put on display. (See photo above.)

The same thing happened to a jaguar named Macho B after he was repeatedly illegally trapped, radio-collared, and finally murdered earlier this year by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the USFWS. (See Cat Defender post of May 21, 2009 entitled "Macho B, America's Last Jaguar, Is Illegally Trapped, Radio-Collared, and Killed Off by Wildlife Biologists in Arizona.")

No fewer than nine institutions and individuals shared in the windfall from this magnificent animal's body. Those profiting from his death included, inter alia, the Phoenix Zoo, the Arizona Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, the United States Geological Survey Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, the University of California at Davis, the University of Arizona at Tucson, the American Museum of Natural History in Gotham, the San Diego Zoo, a taxidermist, and a tanner.

The same fate befell an unfortunate cougar that was gunned down in a hail of bullets by the cops on April 14, 2008 after he wandered into the North Side of Chicago. (See Cat Defender post of May 5, 2008 entitled "Chicago's Rambo Style Cops Corner and Execute a Cougar to the Delight of the Hoi Polloi and the Capitalist Media.")

"It seemed like every researcher in the world wanted a piece of this cougar so they could test this and that," Donna Alexander of Cook County Animal and Rabies Control (CCARC) kvetched to the Chicago Tribune on April 30, 2008. (See "Scientists Clamor to Study Cougar Shot in Chicago.")

Once the dust had settled the big winners in this financial sweepstakes were the Brookfield Zoo and the Field Museum, that is, in addition to Alexander's own department.

"The best thing that's going to come out of this (slaughter) is the collection of scientific information for the state," Jeff Fobb, a bounty hunter for the FFWCC, admitted to the Los Angeles Times on August 2nd. (See "Snake Hunters Scour Everglades for Burmese Python.") Moreover, with some experts estimating that there could be as many as one-hundred-fifty-thousand pythons in south Florida, that is a considerable amount of killing and moola to be parceled out to various individuals and groups.

For whatever it is worth, Fobb nevertheless maintains that his motives are as pure as the driven snow. "I'm not looking at making money," he continued. "This is an excuse to go fool around in the Everglades."

Fobb, who also holds down a good-paying day job with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, can run off at the mouth about whatever he pleases but the stubborn fact remains that a person can "fool around" in the Everglades without killing snakes and taking blood money for doing so. (See photo above of him on the prowl.)

He did, however, admit to the Times that killing snakes was "the least pleasant part of this experience."

Greg Graziani, a breeder of ball pythons (Python regius) from Venus, Florida, who also is working as a bounty hunter for the FFWCC, fully shares Fobb's lack of scruples and honesty. "That is not something that as hunters and as python breeders that we particularly want to do. But it is part of the criteria for this program," he told Living on Earth on July 31st. (See "Python Be Gone.") "Unfortunately that is the downside, as you know, a snake lover myself. Would I rather that somebody else handle (sic) the euthanization process, definitely. But that's just something we have to do."

Graziani's hunting partner, wildlife biologist Shawn Heflick of Palm Bay, operates in the same cash-driven moral twilight. "I'm a snake lover," he boasted to the CBC's As It Happens on July 22nd. (See "Python Hunter.") "It (killing them) is not something that I relish. I don't like the idea that they have to be killed but I understand, especially as a biologist, that they are exotic, don't belong there, and there's nothing else to do with them." (See photo of him directly above.)

If the blatant hypocrisies, prejudices, inanities, and mercenary greed that characterizes wildlife biologists and their comrades-in-arms in the so-called wildlife protection movement were not a powerful enough indictment of their profession, the unbridled joy that many of them derive from abusing and killing animals, both wild and domestic, would certainly be the icing on the cake. "I think it's extremely exciting," Graziani gushed to Living on Earth in the article cited supra. "I mean, again, I wish they weren't there. But very few people can go python hunting in the United States because they're just not there."

This mass eradication is being undertaken ostensibly because pythons are alleged to be a threat to native species living in south Florida. Yet when pressed on the matter, even the biologists admit that there is not any scientific evidence to back up such a claim.

"(There is a) little bit of concern about endangered species," was all that Heflick had to say on the subject when he was queried by the CBC.

Graziani is even more dubious. "And what we want to find out because it is really not known at this point is, are these animals a serious threat to the ecosystem in the Everglades?" he confided to Living on Earth in the article cited supra. "Do we need to work on a total eradication? Do we simply need to work on controlling the population of these animals? Or are they a problem at all?"

The necessity of this entire eradication program is furthermore called into question by the petit fait that the USFWS has been capturing and radio-tagging an unspecified number of pythons in Everglades National Park for years. Although the particulars of this experiment are not known, presumably the snakes are trapped, tagged, monitored for a specific period of time, and then recaptured and killed.

From analyses conducted on the contents of their stomachs, the biologists in all likelihood already know what the snakes are eating and whether or not they pose a significant threat to any native species. With Americans, however, it is always kill first and then ask questions later, especially if there is either any money to be made or jollies to be derived from doing so.

While pythons have been known to kill alligators, it has not been determined how often this occurs. Preliminary anecdotal evidence would tend to suggest that the two giant reptiles are pretty much evenly matched.

For example, back in 2005 a python in Everglades National Park literally burst a gut and died after devouring an alligator. (See photo above.) Since the snake was discovered sans its head, however, other biologists theorize that it was not the large meal that killed it but rather a second alligator. (See National Geographic, September 5, 2006, "Python Bursts after Eating Gator.")

Another tussle that occurred between the two behemoths in Everglades National Park back in 2005 and was captured on film appears to have ended in a stalemate. (See photo below.)

The snakes' eradication cannot be justified on grounds of public safety either because, unlike pet pythons, those living in the remote Everglades are not a threat to individuals. "This is not a public safety issue at all," Heflick told the CBC. "These snakes want to stay away from people. They want to hide. They want to be left alone and do their own thing."

Nevertheless, the FFWCC cannot get rid of the snakes fast enough. On August 29th it declared open season on them by authorizing licensed hunters to kill them with bows and arrows and muzzleloaders in, inter alia, the Francis S. Taylor, Holey Land, and Rotenberger wildlife management areas as well as the Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve. At the same time, the FFWCC put out contracts on the heads of Indian, reticulated, African rock, and amethystine pythons in addition to green anacondas and Nile monitor lizards. (See FFWCC press release of September 2, 2009 entitled "Burmese Python Permit Program.")

This mass eradication also may be superfluous in that tests conducted on two-dozen Burmese pythons captured and killed in Everglades National Park revealed high levels of mercury in their corpses. If the Everglades and surrounding areas are that contaminated it is unlikely that any form of wildlife is going to be able to survive there for very long and instead of killing off the snakes officials should be concentrating their efforts on removing mercury and other harmful chemicals from the environment.

Furthermore, it is a red herring to claim that the snakes do not have any natural predators in south Florida and therefore will multiply exponentially if not checked. "There's alligators, hawks, owls, bobcats, coyotes, (and) just about anything else that eats other animals will eat pythons," the FFWCC's Gary Morse told the Naples Daily News on August 21st. (See "Open Season on Pythons: Licensed Hunters Allowed to Shoot on Sight in Specific Areas.") "When they're small, the percentage of predation is likely quite high, as it is with all snakes."

Once again the absurd policies pursued by wildlife biologists, breeders, and politicians are at war with both morality and common sense. To summarize the dreadful situation in a nutshell, pythons living in the Everglades and not harming anyone or any species are being demonized and systematically slaughtered while pet pythons are being welcomed into cities where they are allowed to kill cats and children with impunity.

Corrupt agendas and warped moralities of this sort are nothing new as far as wildlife biologists are concerned. For example, the USFWS and its designated death squad, the USDA's Wildlife Services, exterminate approximately eighty-seven-thousand coyotes each year in the countryside at the request of farmers, ranchers, and other economic interests while they simultaneously maintain that those which escape the hangman should be allowed to live in urban areas where they kill cats. (See Cat Defender post of October 2, 2006 entitled "Coyotes, Cheered on by Wildlife Officials, Join Raccoons in Killing Cats and Dogs in Washington State.")

The USFWS also has reintroduced fishers to the crowded northeast so that they can not only provide a source of income for fur traffickers but also kill cats. (See Cat Defender posts of July 19, 2007 and August 28, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Up to Their Old Tricks, Wildlife Officials Reintroduce Fishers to the Northeast to Prey Upon Cats and to Provide Income for Fur Traffickers" and "TNR Programs, Domestic Cats, Dogs, and Humans Imperiled by Wildlife Proponents Use and Abuse of Coyotes and Fishers.")

The authority to determine which species are going to be allowed to live and under what circumstances is an awesome responsibility that should not belong to any man or governmental entity. Compounding this outrageous situation even further is the fact that such authority currently resides in the hands of those individuals, groups, and governmental agencies that are the least qualified to make such momentous decisions.

Although they sometimes like to dress up their egregious crimes in the august name of science, the truth of the matter is that wildlife biologists spend half of their time pimping and whoring for various economic concerns and the other half killing off animals that they simply do not like.

About the only good known to have come out of the python eradication effort is that it has debunked the myth that irresponsible owners are responsible for releasing the snakes into the Everglades and surrounding areas. Although there are still some stubborn holdouts, such as the FFWCC, Los Angeles Times, Naples Daily News, and National Geographic, who persist in perpetuating this fairy tale, Heflick lays the blame for that fiasco squarely upon the shoulders of irresponsible python breeders and the Miami Metro Zoo with a big assist going to Hurricane Andrew of 1992.

"Genetic data from the study that they did actually indicates that Hurricane Andrew was the source as well the genetics would indicate that they came from a very small founding population and that would hold true for the Hurricane Andrew scenario," he told the CBC. "If the population came primarily from pet owners you would see the gene pool that came from three or four countries of origin."

Graziani is in full agreement with that analysis. "There has not been a single documented case where they've actually caught anybody releasing snakes," he added in his interview with Living on Earth. Ironically, as a breeder, it is conceivable that he now could be killing some of the same snakes that escaped from his hatchery.

In a clear-cut case of locking the barn door after the horse has escaped, Bill Nelson of Florida last February introduced a bill in the United States Senate that would ban the importation of Burmese pythons. Even if their importation could be interdicted, it is unlikely that would have much of an impact upon established breeders who are going to continue to churn out pythons.

Once again, the intelligent modus operandi would be to target breeders and zoos instead of killing pythons, but that would substantially reduce the profits of the former and snake killers alike and in America that is verboten. So, in the end, the pythons lose all the way around.

Shanghaied out of their natural, albeit poacher-plagued, habitats, they next are horribly abused by breeders and pet shops. Once sold as pets, they often become obese and therefore too large to keep and too expensive to feed.

Once they wind up on their own in a strange land, wildlife biologists brand them as an invasive species and place bounties on their heads. That is in spite of the salient fact that if they were born in this country they cannot possibly be an invasive species.

The final indignity comes courtesy of the highbrows in academia, museums, and zoos who traffic in their remains as if they were little more than credit default swaps while simultaneously denying them even the decent burials that all living creatures deserve.

Nothing contained in this long digression into the plight of Burmese pythons does anything to either help poor Wilbur or to lessen the horrors that he must have experienced during the final moments of his life. Nor can it in any way alleviate the pain that the Wadeys no doubt are still experiencing.

"Some might not understand the fuss being made over a dead cat, but he was our cat and we loved him dearly. He was a part of our family, as any cat owner will understand," they wrote recently on their web site. "He was beautiful, strong, soft, had a purr like a dynamo and was a miracle of fluffy nature. We miss him desperately and losing him in this way has been devastating for us; our home has not been the same since he was so brutally taken away from us."

Anyone who has ever loved a cat can readily not only identify with the Wadeys' grief but cringe at the very thought of Wilbur's sad fate.

Photos: Moggies (Wilbur), BBC (Wadeys), Peter Wallis of the Herald Sun of Melbourne (Butterworth and Tuffy), Florida Museum of Natural History (python cut open), Robert Duyos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (Fobb), David Albers of the Naples Daily News (Heflick), South Florida Natural Resources Center (exploding python), and Lori Oberhofer of the National Park Service (python and alligator fighting).