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

Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Howard the Combine Kitty Is Adopted by the Lads Who Saved Him from a Sure and Certain Death in a Ditch Alongside a Michigan Wheat Field

"Fortunately, Howard's recovery has been far better than expected...He's growing and his legs have healed and he looks like a normal cat with the exception of two shortened front limbs. He moves around on his own and is adjusting to his limitations."
-- Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter

When it comes to severely abused and injured cats happy endings are about as rare as hens' teeth. Consequently, whenever an especially courageous cat somehow defies the odds and cheats the Grim Reaper out of his bounty it is time to celebrate.

Such was the occasion at Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter (ICACS) on October 24th when around forty individuals stopped by to attend a two-hour reception held in honor of Howard the Combine Kitty. There were brownies, cakes, cookies, and refreshments but the piece de resistence was, of course, Howard.

After surgery in order to remove what was left of his mangled front paws and multiple skin grafts to repair his severely injured front legs, the young black and white kitten is now out of both the hospital and foster care.(See photo above.)

The happy occasion was therefore staged in order to give the public one last opportunity to see him before he went to live with his new family. Appropriately enough, he is going to be spending the remainder of his life with the two lads who saved his, ten-year-old Kyle and eight-year-old Bryce Billingslea.

The Alaiedon Township, Michigan, boys heard his plaintive cries for help as they rode their bikes down Willoughby Road on July 30th. (See photo below of the pair.)

Without hesitation, they gathered him up in their arms and carried him to a nearby farmhouse where the owner summoned help in the form of the ICACS's Gary Ireland. Although he believed that Howard most likely was beyond all mortal assistance, Ireland nonetheless rushed him to Lansing Veterinary Medical Center where Mark Williamson, Valerie Chadwick, and the rest of the staff happily made a liar out of him.

Only eight-weeks-old at the time, Howard was the victim of an unconscionable combine operator who had run him down and left him to die a lonely and prolonged death in a ditch alongside a wheat field. Not only had his front paws been left dangling at the ends of his now useless stumps, but his mangled flesh had begun to rot and was infested with maggots.

Without either food or water, Howard lay suspended between life and death for a week during which time he easily either could have bled to death or died from infection. There also was the constant fear that he could have been attacked by a predator.

As soon as he was well enough to leave the hospital, Howard went to live with his foster mom, Terri Valentino of Mason. (See photo below of her saying goodbye to him.)

"You touch him and he flips over and wiggles toward the door, and he purrs nonstop," she told the Lansing State Journal on October 25th. (See "'Combine Kitty' on His Way Home with Rescuers.")

Although it was at first thought that Howard would be fitted with prosthetics, apparently that plan has been abandoned. Instead, the new plan calls for him to learn to get along on his stumps which, understandably, are still tender even after months of recuperation and skin grafts.

"Fortunately, Howard's recovery has been far better than expected," ICACS stated recently on its web site. "He's growing and his legs have healed and he looks like a normal cat with the exception of two shortened front limbs. He moves around on his own and is adjusting to his limitations."

As remarkable as Howard's rescue and recovery have been, the effect that he has had on the residents of this southern Michigan community as well as individuals from around the world has been nothing short of amazing itself. For example, once news of his plight appeared in the local dailies and on the Internet donations for his care poured in not only from area residents but from as far afield as Angleterre, Montana, Texas, and New Jersey.

The public has been in fact so generous that not only has Howard's $2,000 medical tab been covered, but there are sufficient funds left over in order to treat three other injured, abused, and sick animals.

"His story has evoked compassion and empathy within our community and for that we all owe Howard a debt of thanks," ICACS stated on its web site last summer. "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."

Several disturbing questions remain unanswered, however. First of all, since Howard is such a friendly cat it thus would appear that he spent the weeks prior to the incident around people. It therefore is a good bet that he was either dumped alongside Willoughby Road or that his previous owners, for whatever reason, did not want him back. Perhaps in the end that is just as well because it was their initial act of callous cruelty that cost Howard his front paws.

It also is outrageous that the combine operator who tried to kill Howard has not been identified and arrested. Moreover, apparently nothing has been done in order to ensure that other cats and wildlife are protected against the irresponsible behavior of combine operators who seem to believe that they have a God-given right to make as much money as quickly as possible regardless of the cost to animals.

After all, Howard need not have been forced to suffer in the first place when an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. (See Cat Defender post of August 20, 2009 entitled "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.")

Photos: ICACS (Howard by himself and the Billingsleas) and Robert Killips of the Lansing State Journal (Howard and Valentino).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Memo to the Humane Society: Tell the World Exactly How Many Cats You and Your Honeys at the USFWS Have Murdered on San Nicolas Island

"I'm sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, shortsighted, narrow-minded hypocrites
All I want is some truth
Just gimme some truth.

I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pigheaded politicians
All I want is some truth
Just gimme some truth."
-- John Lennon

The inveterate liars, fraudsters, and just plain moneygrubbing bums who comprise the ranks of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) staged a massive propaganda offensive on November 3rd at their sister facility, the Fund for Animals Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (FFAWRC), in Ramona, California. The doors to the thirteen-acre facility, which normally are kept closed tighter than a rich man's wallet, were flung open to accommodate their equally mendacious stooges and fops from within the corrupt-as-hell capitalist media.

The occasion was to announce that the HSUS had rescued fifty-four doomed cats from San Nicolas Island off the coast of Los Angeles. (See photo above.) Actually, even that minuscule number is misleading in that it includes eighteen kittens that could have been born either on San Nicolas or in Ramona.

Since the HSUS is not saying one way or another, it temporarily will be assumed for the sake of argument that half of them were born on the island and the other half in Ramona. Should the HSUS ever decide to come clean, which is extremely unlikely, that estimate can be later revised.

Therefore, the HSUS has rescued around forty-five cats and even that assumes that the ones exhibited at FFAWRC actually came from San Nicolas. The HSUS could have picked them up elsewhere and simply be claiming that they came from the island. After all, it consistently has lied about everything else. (See photos below of some of the allegedly rescued cats.)

The obliging capitalist media, as per usual, swallowed the HSUS's public relations stunt whole and without question. (See KNSD-TV of San Diego, November 3, 2009, "Feral Cats Get a Home," KPBS-Radio and TV of San Diego, November 5, 2009, "SoCal Wildlife Center Makes Habitat for Feral Cats," North County Times of Escondido, November 3, 2009, "Ramona: Feral Cats Rescued from Island Find a Home at Wildlife Center," KFMB-760AM of San Diego, November 3, 2009, "Feral Cats Rescued and Brought to New Cat Sanctuary," The Mercury News of San Jose, November 5, 2009, "SoCal Wildlife Center Makes Habitat for Feral Cats," and the Los Angeles Times, November 6, 2009, "Fifty-Four Feral Cats on San Nicolas Island Relocated to Ramona in Order to Protect Native Animals.")

This latest propaganda blitz follows upon the heels of similar ones launched by the HSUS in May and August of this year. (See Cat Channel, May 1, 2009, "Seven San Nicolas Island Cats Rescued" and the Ramona Sentinel, August 19, 2009, "Sanctuary Saves San Nicolas Felines from Certain Death.")

For the uninitiated, the HSUS's efforts on behalf of San Nicolas's cats might appear au premier coup d'oeil as rather commendable. In truth, however, they are just the opposite.

What the HSUS and its allies within the moneybags media have gone to such gargantuan lengths to conceal from the public is that as of June of 2008 there were according to declarations made by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the United States Navy, twin architects of their removal, more than two-hundred homeless cats on the island.

Assuming that the dozen cats which supposedly remain on the island are removed before the HSUS's trapping initiative is scheduled to be terminated in February of next year, that would still leave at least one-hundred-forty-three cats unaccounted for on San Nicolas. Moreover, it is by no means certain that any of the holdouts will make it out alive.

"We have to make sure we have every one of them," the USFWS's Jane Herndon pledged to the Ventura County Star of Camarillo on April 10th of this year. (See "Feral Cats to Be Eliminated from Island.")

The crucial question therefore is not that the HSUS has saved forty-five cats but rather what has happened to the other one-hundred-forty-three of them? Since the thoroughly despicable capitalist media has been following this story for the past eighteen months it is well aware of this problem.

Consequently, its collective decision to conceal this ruthless slaughter is not only unforgivable but constitutes a new low point in American journalism. This is not a crime of omission but rather of commission since the media certainly know that cats are being gunned down every day on San Nicolas.

According to the Environmental Assessment (EA) prepared by the USFWS and the Navy and released to the public in June of 2008, the majority of the cats were to have been hunted down with bloodhounds at night and shotgunned to death. The remainder were to have been ensnared in padded leghold traps and then shot on the spot. (See Cat Defender post of June 27, 2008 entitled "United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navy Hatch a Diabolical Plan to Gun Down Two-Hundred Cats on San Nicolas Island.")

Originally the HSUS was dead set against San Nicolas's cats being both shot and caught in leghold traps. "The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection agency and considers the Preferred Alternative of padded leghold taps and shooting cats as inhumane regardless of how the EA labels and defends this strategy," the organization's Nancy Peterson wrote in a letter to the USFWS on June 17, 2008. (See Re: Comments on the Environmental Assessment for the San Nicolas Island Seabird Restoration Project.") "In absolutely no case, should USFWS shoot cats on San Nicolas Island."

Peterson was even blunter in a June 6, 2008 interview with the Ventura County Star where she unambiguously declared, "This is not humane." (See "Biologists Want Island Cats Killed.") "I would not say shooting cats and leaving them in leghold traps for up to fourteen hours is humane."

That admission brings up the disturbing question of exactly how many of the forty-five cats that have been rescued so far sustained injuries while in the leghold traps. (See photo below of a non-San Nicolas cat caught in one of these traps.) The HSUS's either unwillingness or incompetence to apprehend them using conventional box traps is another black mark against it.

Somewhere between June and November of last year the HSUS had a drastic change of opinion and sold San Nicolas's cats down the river to the USFWS. The specifics of this sleazy, back room deal never have been made public but the broad outlines of it are clearly discernible. (See Cat Defender post of April 28, 2009 entitled "Quislings at the Humane Society Sell Out San Nicolas's Cats to the Assassins at the Diabolical United States Fish and Wildlife Service.")

The first incentive as far as the HSUS is concerned was obviously money. In reality, the organization is little more than a gaggle of glorified beggars.

Although it has an announced annual operating budget in excess of $120 million, it has bummed $100,000 from the search engine Do Great Good for its efforts on San Nicolas. It has not revealed, however, how much additional funding it has received from the public for rescuing forty-five cats.

That is in addition to the $1,854,100 that the USFWS cadged from Montrose Chemicals of Torrance in order to exterminate San Nicolas's cats. All totaled, the feds exacted $140 million from Montrose for discharging DDT and PCBs into the waters off of southern California between 1945-1982.

Those deadly pollutants infected worms and microorganisms which are eaten by fish. Mammals and birds, such as Brandt's Cormorant and bald eagles, then ate the fish and became polluted themselves. Not about to pass up any opportunity to purse its long-standing vendetta against cats, the USFWS is now using not only Montrose's crimes against the environment but also its money in order to kill cats.

All public pronouncements made by the USFWS and its partners in crime have been part and parcel of a tissue of lies directed at justifying this en masse eradication of cats. They include, inter alia, the EA, which was prepared by a group of cat-hating wildlife biologists at H.T. Harvey and Associates of Fresno who deliberately excluded any input from cat advocacy groups; an illegal, abbreviated period for public comments on the EA; the disgraceful, one-sided reporting of the capitalist media; and, now the HSUS's sellout. (See Cat Defender post of July 10, 2008 entitled "The Ventura Star Races to the Defense of the Cat-Killers on San Nicolas Island.")

John Lennon was better known for his songwriting and vocals but he also was a devoted cat-lover. (See Cat Defender post of December 5, 2005 entitled "Remembering John Lennon: A Great Songwriter and a Brave Political Activist Who Also Loved Cats.")

What he said all those years ago concerning the political situation in general is particularly a propos to the mistreatment of San Nicolas's cats by the USFWS, Navy, HSUS, and capitalist media:

"I'm sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, shortsighted, narrow-minded hypocrites
All I want is some truth
Just gimme some truth.

I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pigheaded politicians
All I want is some truth
Just gimme some truth."

Sadly, the truth is in even shorter supply today than it was during John's time. Nevertheless, $2 million would seem to be sufficient for the USFWS and the HSUS to get rid of two-hundred cats but apparently that is not the case because the HSUS is still badgering the public for more funding.

If a dishonest and blood-drenched buck was all that the HSUS was after that in itself would be bad enough but its treachery is far more egregious. First of all, by entering into its Faustian bargain with the USFWS the HSUS has accepted its edict that those cats removed from San Nicolas must be imprisoned for life in Ramona and never adopted.

"These cats must be kept for the remainder of their lives in Service-approved facilities that prevent the cats from escaping and threatening wildlife on the mainland," the USFWS stipulated in its Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) released earlier this year. Even if the USFWS were to relent and permit some of the kittens to be adopted, their prospective new owners would have to sign contracts agreeing to also imprison them indoors for as long as they live.

In addition to all the hours that the cats were forced to spend in leghold traps on San Nicolas, they were subjected to even lengthier sojourns in cages at FFAWRC while their new enclosure was being constructed. (See bottom photo.)

Thus in one fell swoop the HSUS has handed the USFWS, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), and all other wildlife and bird advocates several key victories that they heretofore had been unable to obtain. The USFWS's stipulations also prove conclusively that it is pursuing a far more ambitious agenda than merely attempting to restore San Nicolas and other islands to pristine idylls that, in truth, never did exist and never will exist.

Even more disastrously, the agreement between the HSUS and USFWS will serve as a template for future feline eradications and imprisonments both on the mainland and on islands. No one, however, should be really surprised by the HSUS's deadly sellout because it never has been a champion of homeless cats.

For example, even as recent as 2006 it was still branding TNR as "subsidized abandonment." Plus, on its web site, it states that the "best and safest place for cats to reside is in people's homes."

In a recent video entitled "Trap-Neuter-Return: Fixing Feral Cat Overpopulation," the HSUS does indeed endorse TNR but only as a stopgap measure. "In the end it doesn't really matter what the numbers are. Cats are a domesticated species and they should not be outdoors hunting wildlife," Bryan Kortis of Neighborhood Cats in Manhattan and the narrator of the video declares. "So whether it's one blue jay who is killed or millions of songbirds it's real problem."

That was the opening gambit in a fiendish plot concocted by HSUS, Neighborhood Cats, and others to subvert and hijack the homeless cat protection movement. Through a myriad of sleazy, underhanded deals with the USFWS, wildlife biologists, and birders they are intent upon both eliminating feral colonies and making it illegal for cats to be outside.

"If we want to bring the numbers of feral cats down we really need to have a broad-based, community-wide approach and that's going to involve veterinarians, wildlife advocates, animal shelters, health professions, (and) municipal officials," Peterson states in the video cited supra.

If there ever was a blueprint for killing cats, the one announced by Peterson surely fits the bill. Whereas it is generally well-known that for wildlife biologists and birders the only good cat is a dead one, it is less widely appreciated that the American Veterinary Medical Association feels exactly the same way. (See Cat Defender post of May 16, 2006 entitled "Kansas City Vets Break Ranks with AVMA to Defend Cats Against Bird Advocates, Wildlife Proponents, and Exterminators.")

Shelters and Animal Control earn their daily bread by rounding up and systematically exterminating millions of cats each year. Health officials, who steadfastly refuse to require that public facilities provide such basic necessities of good hygiene as hot water and soap and also permit filthy restaurants to continue to operate year after year, nonetheless have the chutzpah to slander cats as being unclean and thus a threat to public health. Besides, any group of professionals that has so grossly mishandled the Schweinegrippe outbreak and inoculation process as the health and medical communities should not be entrusted with even taking out the trash let alone setting health policy.

Politicians, as everyone knows, vote not their consciences but rather as they are instructed by their financial backers. As a consequence, it is unlikely that very many of them have anything positive to contribute to this debate.

The HSUS's Betsy McFarland reiterated Peterson's stance during the November 3rd dog and pony show that the HSUS staged for the public's benefit at FFAWRC. "This project is a testament to the commitment of multiple agencies to find common ground and develop solutions for feral cats in areas with threatened or endangered species," she crowed in a press release quoted verbatim by many in the media. (See "The HSUS and Fund for Animals Dedicate Habitat for San Nicolas Island Cats.") "The cats from San Nicolas Island deserve the opportunity to live a full and happy life, and we're proud to provide that at our sanctuary."

If she had a shred of honesty in her deceitful old bones she would have stood up for the right of all two-hundred cats on San Nicolas to have continued to live in freedom on the island. They were, after all, born there and as such have every bit as much of a right to be there as does any other species. The true invasive species and destroyers of the island are the USFWS, Navy, and the HSUS.

The key to the HSUS's devilish designs is the control and criminalization of the feeding of homeless cats by private individuals. Unless these kindhearted and selfless individuals can be brought under its thumb, the HSUS's machinations are destined to fail.

Unfortunately, its subalterns already have scored several crucial victories. Most notably, Neighborhood Cats and the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals have teamed up in order to identify and gain control of hundreds of feral colonies and their caretakers. The locations of the colonies and the names of the volunteers are even stored in a database.

In Petaluma, California, the City Council voted five to one on October 19th to require that all feral cat feeders be affiliated with an official care provider. This organization also would be required to take out insurance on the volunteers.

Under this draconian measure, which was pushed through by bird advocates, violators will be prosecuted and ultimately forced to abandon their duties. Consequently, the cats then will be left to either die on their own or to slowly twist in the wind under the constraints imposed upon them as the result of whatever sleazy deals that the nonprofits decide to enter into with wildlife biologists and birders, just as the HSUS has done on San Nicolas. (See The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, October 20, 2009, "Cat Lovers Fail to Stop New Petaluma Regulations.")

In Manchester, Pennsylvania, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on November 10th to prohibit volunteers from feeding homeless cats unless they are able to prove that their charges have been sterilized. Violators of this ordinance are subject to a $1,000 fine. (See The York Dispatch, November 11, 2009, "Feral Cat Feeders Face Fines in Manchester Township.")

Killeen, Texas, already infamous for shooting cats, is currently considering an ordinance that would require volunteers to be licensed and to sterilize at least half of the cats in their colonies. They also would be required to file annual reports on the number of cats sterilized. (See Killeen Daily Herald, November 17, 2009, "Killeen Continues Feral Cat Ordinance Discussion" and Cat Defender post of July 16, 2009 entitled "Yellow Two Is Shot and Maimed for Life at Fort Hood in the United States Army's Latest Criminal Offense Against Cats.")

Even more outrageous than the passage of these statutes has been the praise that they have garnered from those groups that supposedly have the best interests of homeless cats at heart. "We believe the intent of the ordinance to manage feral cat colonies in Petaluma is positive, but we don't think the city has ironed out exactly how this will work," Jennifer Kirchner of Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County told the San Francisco Cat Rescue Examiner on October 21st. (See "New Petaluma Feral Cat Ordinance Raises Concerns Among Rescue Groups.") "We think the city council needed to get more feline rescue groups involved in working out the nuts and bolts of the ordinance before they passed it."

Kirchner's viewpoint was readily endorsed by Becky Robinson of Alley Cat Allies (ACA). "While there are good intentions behind this ordinance, it is the wrong approach," she wrote in an October 29th letter to the editor of the Santa Rosa Democrat. (See "Caring for Cats.") "By mandating that nonprofit groups buy insurance for their volunteers without providing financial support and then requiring that caregivers register or risk prosecution, the city will only end up discouraging Good Samaritans and knowledgeable local cat groups, putting an end to programs that humanely stabilize the feral cat population."

First of all, mesdames Kirchner and Robinson should spell out to the public exactly what it is that they find so appealing about the new law in Petaluma. Secondly, both of them obviously are scared to death that laws of this sort are going to end up costing them some of their godly green.

Although groups such as Forgotten Felines and ACA occasionally do some good work, their contributions to the welfare of homeless cats is minuscule. The homeless cat protection movement always has been comprised almost exclusively of volunteers who purchase the cats' food and milk out of their own pockets. They also construct their feeding stations and shelters and pay their medical bills.

They are precisely the ones who speak up for homeless cats at city council meetings, write letters on their behalf to newspapers and, quite often, suffer the indignities and costs of being fined and jailed for their advocacy. (See Cat Defender post of February 26, 2007 entitled "Charged with Feeding a Feral Cat Named Fluffy, Retired Ohio English Teacher Beats the Rap.")

Anyone who attempts to interfere in any way with either them or the good work that they are doing, whether it be cat-haters, politicians, or outright frauds such as the HSUS and Neighborhood Cats, is going to destroy the movement. The only things that these usurpers are good for are grubbing for money and selling out cats to their mortal enemies.

Even ACA is not to be trusted. Every bit as mad for shekels as the HSUS, its only response to the slaughter of San Nicolas's cats was to belatedly organize a letter-writing campaign in opposition. Since then it has been as quiet as a church mouse while the cats have been systematically gunned down one by one.

Then there was the September 29th revelation by cat-hater and defamer Natalie Angier in (where else?) the slimy and disreputable New York Times that Robinson is a closet adherent of the ABC's Cats Indoors agenda. (See "Give Birds a Break. Lock Up the Cat.")

Since Robinson never has publicly refuted Angier's claim, there must be a measure of truth to it. If that is so, Robinson's duplicity's is the very pinnacle of hypocrisy.

Despite the torrent of lies spread by their detractors, the only difference between feral and domestic cats is that the latter have homes whereas the former do not. Moreover, the fate of all cats is inextricably linked and for Robinson to publicly advocate for the right of homeless cats to live outdoors while simultaneously promoting the locking up of domestic cats indoors is just one more deadly sellout.

Very few of the old rules apply anymore. If they did, the old adage that "he who pays the piper calls the tune" would apply in this instance and since the volunteers are the heart, soul, and backbone of the homeless cat protection movement they would be allowed to act as they see fit.

It also used to be the case that individuals of a philanthropic bent spent their own money but today running a charity has itself become a big business. Instead of constantly badgering the public for money, organizations like HSUS and ACA should invest some of their loot in, say, either a Burger King franchise or a shoe factory.

Since they are not any better than the volunteers, they are certainly capable of flipping burgers and sewing shoes by day and pursuing their advocacy work evenings and on weekends. It sans doute would not be an easy row to hoe but it sure beats being a bum.

To come to the heart of the matter, anyone or group that publicly proclaims that there ever could be any rapprochement between birders, wildlife biologists, and ailurophobes on the one hand and cat-lovers on the other hand is either naive or downright dishonest. This is a fight to the bitter finish and no compromises are possible.

That petit fait is made explicit on a daily basis by birders and wildlife biologists in their voluminous publications, videos, and the half-baked, anti-cat diatribes that they dash off to newspaper editors. For most of them, defaming and killing cats is their only raison d'etre.

They sometimes will agree to TNR but that is only a temporary compromise in those instances where their murderous urges are thwarted by public opposition. HSUS, ACA, Neighborhood Cats, and their subalterns know this better than anyone else.

Because of their double-dealing and blatant dishonesty, true cat-lovers should refrain from giving money to any of these groups. Furthermore, their treachery must be exposed and stopped.

In conclusion, both the HSUS and the capitalist media for too long have gotten away with telling too many lies. The time has come therefore for the HSUS to disclose to the public exactly how many cats it and its allies within the USFWS have killed on San Nicolas Island.

It also must release to the public photographs of the dead cats with their heads blown off and their tiny bodies covered in blood. Then the public will be able to place these gruesome photos alongside the HSUS's propaganda snaps taken at FFAWRC and judge for itself if saving forty-five cats was worth the coldblooded murder of one-hundred-forty-three of them.

Photographs also must be released of those cats who have suffered bloody and mangled limbs as the result of being ensnared in leghold traps. The faces and names of the USFWS's assassins must be made public along with a detailed accounting of how much each of them was paid for each murder. The world deserves a good look at what kind of individuals commit these types of atrocities.

The HSUS and USFWS additionally must inform the world of the final disposition of the slain cats' corpses. It already has been announced that many of them will be turned over to wildlife biologists so that their stomachs can be cut open and inventoried.

The findings from these necropsies then will be used as the basis for an outpouring of so-called scientific papers designed to justify the cats' extermination. In reality, the biologists' mutilation of their corpses reveals only the utter contempt that they harbor in their malignant bosoms for the species.

Most importantly of all, if the rule of law is destined to ever mean what it should, there must be a single, inviolable standard of conduct for both the government and the people and that certainly includes the strict enforcement of the anti-cruelty statutes. It therefore is imperative that both the USFWS and the Navy somehow be held accountable in a court of law for the murders that they have committed on San Nicolas.

The same holds true for the HSUS. Because of its complicity in these horrible crimes it, too, is guilty of the violating the very laws that it is all the time pretending to be enforcing.

If there is one honest state or local prosecutor left in this country who has a clearly defined sense of right and wrong, either he or she must issue arrest warrants for these cat killers. In addition to being jailed, they immediately should be divested of their fat welfare checks, pensions, and medical benefits.

Ultimately, both the USFWS and its designated death squad, the USDA's Wildlife Services, will have to be abolished. The systemic rot, ingrained prejudices, egregious crimes, and widespread corruption that are so endemic to both agencies place them beyond salvage.

Considerably more is at stake here than just saving cats and the failure to deal swiftly and severely with these Hitlerites of the natural world is only going to lead to the commission of far greater atrocities in the future. For example, psychologists who have studied serial killers and other violent offenders have discovered that a majority of them began their crime sprees by abusing and killing defenseless animals.

That which holds true for individuals applies in spades to governments and their agents, such as the USFWS and the Navy. After all, since power and money are seldom ever accumulated except with evil intentions in mind, it by necessity follows that great power is synonymous with great evil.

Photos: Ricardo DeAratanha of the Los Angeles Times (aerial view of San Nicolas), Hayne Palmour IV of the North County Times (cats), Ban Leghold Traps (cat in trap), and HSUS (caged cats).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Diesel Amazingly Survives a Harrowing Nine-Hundred-Mile Train Ride by Precariously Clinging to the Undercarriage of a Speeding Locomotive

"It's remarkable how he survived a nine-hundred-mile journey traveling at over one-hundred miles per hour...He would have been able to see the tracks where he was and he must have been petrified."
-- Jodi Fox

New to this world, tiny little Diesel already has had the hair-raising experience of a lifetime. For close to twenty-four hours on October 13th he was forced to hang on for dear life to the undercarriage of a Chiltern Railways locomotive as it made five trips between London's Marylebone Station and Kidderminster Station in the West Midlands.

No one knows where he came from other than that he was spotted dashing underneath the train while it was stopped at Banbury Station in Oxfordshire the previous day. Over the course of the next day the train traveled nine-hundred miles with Diesel perched near the gear box and wheels just underneath the door to the engineer's cab.

When the train stopped at Wembley Station in northwest London at around midnight on October 13th his presence was discovered by the operators who belatedly heard him meowing. Lured out of hiding by the promise of a slice of salami, Diesel was taken to a veterinarian where it was determined that the four-week-old kitten had amazingly come through his perilous misadventure unscathed.

It perhaps should be noted in passing that sliced salami and smelly fish seldom receive their just desserts. After all, they are most assuredly good for far more than snacking in that each year they play a crucial role in rescuing numerous cats simply because they are so readily available in lunch bags and boxes.

It also looks like Diesel's traveling days are over in that he has been adopted by nineteen-year-old Jodi Fox of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, who is employed by the railroad as a fleet resources assistant. (See photo above of her and Diesel.)

"When I got to work in the morning, I was asked whether I wanted a cat," she related to the Daily Mail on October 16th. (See "How Diesel the Miracle Kitten Survived Nine-Hundred-Mile Train Journey Perched Underneath Driver's Cab.") "I thought it was a joke but then I looked inside the box and I fell in love with him straight away. He just looked so cute."

In addition to being cute, there can be no doubt that Diesel also is a very courageous cat to have lived through his nightmarish ordeal. "It's remarkable how he survived a nine-hundred-mile journey traveling at over one-hundred miles per hour," Fox marveled to the Daily Mail in the article cited supra. "He would have been able to see the tracks where he was and he must have been petrified." (See map of Diesel's journey below.)

That is putting it rather mildly. Nonetheless, cats have that remarkable capacity to find strength and raison d'etre in situations where most humans would gladly throw in the towel if they were given the opportunity to do so. (See Cat Defender posts of May 17, 2007 and October 3, 2009 entitled, respectively, "North Carolina Shelter Plotting to Kill Cat That Survived Being Trapped for Thirty-Five Days in Cargo Hold of Ship from China" and "Deliberately Entombed Inside a Canvas Bag for Six Days, Duff Is Saved by a Pair of Alert Maintenance Workers at an Apartment Complex in Spokane.")

His harsh introduction to this world has, understandably, unnerved him somewhat and it is going to take him a while to psychologically recover. "He's quite timid. He's okay on your lap but once you let him go he runs behind the cabinet," Fox told the Daily Mail. "I think he likes small enclosed spaces."

The fact that Fox is able to hold him is one indication that he likely had a previous owner. He possibly could have been abandoned at Banbury Station, escaped from his carrier, or wandered in on his own accord.

While Diesel is busy trying to adjust to this crazy world into which he was born, Chiltern's marketing director, Thomas Ableman, is not wasting any time cashing in on his notoriety. "This is some tale and we're delighted that this little kitten has chosen to travel with Chiltern Railways on its first ever train journey," he told the Daily Mail. "Perhaps, we should add to our great value tickets a new range of feline fares."

That would not be a bad idea except for the petit fait that cats and trains generally are not a good mix. Like Diesel, a cat named Rascal from South Bend, Indiana, strolled onto a parked freight train in 2007 and ended up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Fortunately, he was later reunited with his family. (See Cat Defender post of June 7, 2007 entitled "Rascal Hops Freight Train in South Bend and Unwittingly Winds Up in Chattanooga.")

There are some notable exceptions to that rule, however. For example, Tizer of King's Cross Station in London, Tama of Wakayama Electric Railway's Kishigawa Line in western Japan, and the late Diesel of Inverness Station in Scotland all found gainful employment in railroad depots. (See Cat Defender posts of November 23, 2007, June 2, 2008, and June 25, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Tizer Lands a Job Working for the Police After Ending Up at a Shelter Following the Death of His Previous Owner," "Ridership Soars as Tama Takes Over as a Stationmaster on Money-Losing Commuter Train Line," and "Inverness Station Kills Off Its Resident Feline, Diesel, after Fourteen Years of Faithful Service and Companionship.")

Of course, there are a few cats who make a habit of riding the rails. Par exemple, only recently it was revealed that a cat named Percy has been taking the train from his home to an aquarium in Scarborough for the past four years. (See Cat Defender post of November 14, 2009 entitled "Percy Takes the Train All by Himself in Order to Visit the Penguins at an Aquarium in Scarborough.")

The most famous train riding cat of all time was, of course, Skimbleshanks who made himself to home on the night mail train which traveled the British West Coast Main Line. (See photo above of Reed Jones as Skimbleshanks in the Broadway production of the musical Cats.)

Here is how T. S. Eliot immortalized him in his epic poem, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats:

"There's a whisper down the line at 11:39
When the Night Mail's ready to depart,
Saying 'Skimble where is Skimble has he gone to hunt the thimble?
We must find him or the train can't start.'
All the guards and all the porters and the stationmaster's daughters
They are searching high and low,
Saying 'Skimble where is Skimble for unless he is very nimble
Then the Night Mail just can't go.'
At 11:42 then the signal's nearly due
And the passengers are frantic to a man --
Then Skimble will appear and he'll saunter to the rear:
He's been busy in the luggage van!
He gives one flash of his glass-green eyes
And the signal goes 'All Clear!'
And we're off at last for the northern part
Of the Northern Hemisphere!

You may say that by and large it is Skimble who's in charge
Of the Sleeping Car Express.
From the driver and the guards to the bagmen playing cards
He will supervise them all, more or less.
Down the corridor he paces and examines all the faces
Of the travelers in the First and in the Third;
He establishes control by regular patrol
And he'd know at once if anything occurred.
He will watch you without winking and he sees what you are thinking
And it's certain that he doesn't approve
Of hilarity and riot, so the folk are very quiet
When Skimble is about and on the move.
You can play no pranks with Skimbleshanks!
He's a Cat that cannot be ignored;
So nothing goes wrong on the Northern Mail
When Skimbleshanks is aboard.

Oh it's very pleasant when you have found your little den
With your name written up on the door.
And the berth is very neat with a newly folded sheet
And there's not a speck of dust on the floor.
There is every sort of light -- you can make it dark or bright;
There's a button that you turn to make a breeze.
There's a funny little basin you're supposed to wash your face in
And a crank to shut the window if you sneeze.
Then the guard looks in politely and will ask you very brightly
'Do you like your morning tea weak or strong?'
But Skimble's just behind him and was ready to remind him,
For Skimble won't let anything go wrong.
And when you creep into your cozy berth
And pull up the counterpane,
You are bound to admit that it's very nice
To know that you won't be bothered with mice --
You can leave all that to the Railway Cat,
The Cat of the Railway Train!

In the middle of the night he is always fresh and bright;
Every now and then he has a cup of tea
With perhaps a drop of Scotch while he's keeping his watch,
Only stopping here and there to catch a flea.
You were fast asleep at Crewe and so you never knew
That he was walking up and down the station;
You were sleeping all the while he was busy at Carlisle,
Where he greets the stationmaster with elation.
But you saw him at Dumfries, where he summons the police
If there's anything they ought to know about:
When you get to Gallowgate there you do not have to wait --
For Skimbleshanks will help you to get out!
He gives you a wave of his long brown tail
Which says: 'I'll see you again!
You'll meet without fail on the Midnight Mail
The Cat of the Railway train'."

It is sad that most modern rail lines are too fast, overcrowded, and uncaring to any longer accommodate cats like Skimbleshanks. He and others like him certainly added a touch of elegance, grace, and home that is sorely lacking on today's passenger trains which resemble cattle cars more than anything else.

Photos: News Team (Diesel and Fox), Daily Mail (map), and The Really Useful Group via Wikipedia (Jones as Skimbleshanks).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Percy Takes the Train All by Himself in Order to Visit the Penguins at an Aquarium in Scarborough

"He always knows when the train is coming as well. He is a very smart cat."
-- Sharon Jarvis
English cats are certainly an independent and resourceful group. For example, both Casper of Plymouth and Macavity of Walsall in the West Midlands have learned to ride city buses by themselves. (See Cat Defender posts of August 27, 2009 and April 19, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Casper Treats Himself to an Unescorted Tour Around Plymouth Courtesy of the Number Three Bus" and "Bus-Hopping Macavity Earns High Praise from His Fellow Commuters for Being the Perfect Passenger.")

Beezley travels around Lyme Regis in Dorset on a bicycle pedaled by an employee of the Royal Mail and, whereas most felines have to be dragged scratching and shrieking to the vet, Milo of Southam in Warwickshire takes the initiative and goes unaccompanied by her guardian. (See Cat Defender posts of October 13, 2008 and December 5, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Life Imitates Art as a Small Town in Dorset Acquires Its Very Own Version of Postman Pat and Jess in the Form of Terry and Beezley" and "Milo, Who Visits the Vet by Her Lonesome, Is Named Old Blighty's Most Adventurous Cat.")

Now comes word of a black cat named Percy who takes the North Bay Railway from his home near Peasholm Park to the Sea Life and Marine Sanctuary in the Scalby Mills section of Scarborough in North Yorkshire. The cat reportedly has been making the 1.4 kilometer commute on a weekly basis for the past four years. (See photo above of him with the aquarium's Amy McFarlane.)

Most astounding of all, Percy apparently does not have or need any human assistance in navigating the rails. "He always knows when the train is coming as well," Sharon Jarvis of Sea Life told the Scarborough Evening News on October 19th. (See "It's the Inter-Kitty Express for One Scarborough Cat.") "He is a very smart cat."

While most cat-owners would positively cringe at the very thought of their beloved companions riding the rails unescorted, it is important to point out that the North Bay Railway is about as far removed from a modern, high-speed commuter line as a Model T Ford is from a Porsche. It is in fact a miniature train and four of its five locomotives have been in service since the early 1930s.

Percy's task is further simplified by the fact that there are only two stops on the line: Peasholm Park and Scalby Mills. (See photo above of the 1931 locomotive Neptune passing its younger cousin, the 1932 Triton, near the now defunct Beach Station, midpoint on the route.)

It nevertheless would be interesting to know how Percy got started taking the train. It is only a guess, but more than likely one of his guardians either used to work at the aquarium or was a frequent visitor there and thus taught him les ficelles.

After all if he does live near Peasholm Park, Percy still has to cross Burniston Road in order to get to the misnomered Peasholm Railway Station which is actually located in Northstead Manor Gardens. Because of the frequency of the service and his species' uncanny ability to tell time, fathoming North Bay's timetable would not pose much of a challenge to Percy.

Once he arrives at Sea Life gaining entree is not much of a hurdle for him to surmount either in that he simply piggybacks on patrons as they pass through the front door. Just as importantly, the staffers are not moneygrubbers and thus do not mind that he is a gatecrasher. "We all love Percy and we are sure he will carry on coming here," Jarvis added.

While it is not exactly clear what he finds so beguiling about Sea Life, he is known to be especially fond of the penguin exhibit. (See photo above.)

"He particularly likes watching the penguins but unfortunately they get scared of him so we have to move him away," Jarvis related to the Scarborough Evening News in the article cited supra. "But he's harmless."

Percy's antics recall to mind those of Larry McMurtry's fictional mountain man, Jim Ragg, from out of the pages of his 1990 novel, Buffalo Girls. While on tour with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Ragg became so homesick for the Old West that he took to spending his free time hanging out at the London Zoo's beaver exhibit. It is therefore conceivable that Percy, too, is bored with urban life.

The corridors of power in Parliament and 10 Downing Street may be teeming with all sorts of political intrigue, corruption, and just plain imbecility, but far from the maddening crowd English cats and their supporters continue to enchant and inspire. To that ever-growing list of remarkable cats Percy's name must now be added and like North Bay's old trains he is a must see attraction for those visiting North Yorkshire.

Photos: Scarborough Evening News (Percy and McFarlane), Tivedshambo of Wikipedia (trains), and Moggies (penguins).

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Oops! Ollie Belatedly Gives Up a Closely Guarded Secret Much to the Chagrin of the Employees of Manchester International

"We were completely shocked when we found out and just couldn't believe it...We've heard all the jokes from staff and some of them say we shouldn't be surprised as she's always been a bit of a diva."
-- Bob Molloy

A routine visit to the vet by its world famous resident feline has left staff, vendors, airline personnel, and passengers using Manchester International Airport with egg on their faces. As it can now be revealed, Ollie, who arrived at the airport as a stray in 2007, is in fact a she.

No, she has not suddenly emerged from the closet after masquerading in drag for years. Nor has she undergone a recent sex change operation.

Ollie is what she always has been, i.e., a female. Staffers and others at the busy transportation hub simply incorrectly assumed from the beginning that she was a male. (See photos above and below.)

"We were completely shocked when we found out and just couldn't believe it," Bob Molloy, who works as a receptionist at the airport's administrative office in Olympia House, told the Manchester Evening News on October 26th. (See "Goodbye Ollie, Hello Olivia as Airport Cat Reveals a Secret.") "...We've heard all the jokes from staff and some of them say we shouldn't be surprised as she's always been a bit of a diva."

Since it would no longer be proper to continue calling her Ollie, the staff at Olympia House has renamed her Olivia. While Olivia has not publicly commented one way or another on either her sex or name change, Molloy insists that he already can detect subtle changes in her personality.

"The funniest thing is we actually think her character has altered since we found out," he continued. "She's much more loving and seems to be showing her maternal side more."

More than likely that is all in Molloy's head since the cat always has been nothing but loving and special. Besides, cats are full of all kinds of surprises and that is in part what makes them so adorable.

"The wonderful thing about the cat is the way in which, when one of its many mysteries is laid bare, it is only to reveal another," Robert De Laroche wrote in his book, The Secret Life of Cats. "The essential enigma always remains intact, a sphinx within a sphinx within a sphinx."

At least that is the way things used to be before the scientific community began systematically stripping away all the veils in its never ending quest to subjugate, exploit and, finally, annihilate the species that Leonardo da Vinci once called "nature's masterpiece." (See Cat Defender posts of December 5, 2007 and December 17, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Decoding the Feline Genome Provides Vivisectors with Thousands of New Excuses to Continue Torturing Cats in the Course of Their Bogus Research" and "Mr. Green Genes' Coming Out Party Ushers In a New Era of Unspeakable Atrocities to Be Committed Against Cats by Cloners and Vivisectors.")

In a way this latest revelation is just one more metamorphosis in Olivia's turbulent life. When she arrived at the facility as a stray she was down-at-the-heel and sans a huge chunk of her left ear.

Provided with lots of tender loving care for perhaps the first time in her life, she soon responded by capturing the hearts of all of those who came to know her. A luxury cat box was built for her and attached to the side of Olympia House while those working at the airport vied with one another for the honor of feeding her.

"Air crews give him a feed early in the morning and staff from the airport and its service partners look after him throughout the day," Molloy said in an interview in November of 2007. "He's a big talking point around here. Everybody likes him." (See Cat Defender post of November 28, 2007 entitled "Lovable Ollie Finds a Home at Manchester International Airport After Workers and Vendors Come to His Aid.")

As soon as her story appeared on the Internet, food parcels began arriving from as far away as Paris, New York City, and Chicago. A page on Facebook was established for her and she now has more than fifteen-hundred friends in cyberspace.

Her tenure at the air terminal has not always been smooth sailing, however. Last year, for example, no-good, rotten airport suits hatched a sinister plot to give her the boot but hundreds of her fans from as far away as New Zealand and Kuwait rallied to her side and signed a petition demanding that they reconsider.

As a consequence, Olivia is not going anywhere anytime soon. Perhaps more importantly she is even more popular now than ever before.

"Every day we get people coming in to leave gifts for Olivia," airport employee Hazel Williams told the Manchester Evening News in the article cited supra. "The other week someone had been fishing and brought in a whole mackerel; they had even cooked it for her!"

With the holidays just around the corner, Williams is expecting that Olivia is going to receive her fair share of presents. "It's incredible how well loved she is..." she added.

On a more somber note, since the airport had the vets checking out her private parts it is a good bet that she has been spayed if she had not been altered before she arrived on the scene. Consequently, there will not be any little Olivias or Ollies to take her place once she finally crosses the Rainbow Bridge which, hopefully, will not be for a long, long time.

Finally, the faux pas committed by airport personnel is certainly an easy enough one to have made. For instance, even Charles Dickens was forced to change the name of his cat William to Williamina after he was discovered to be a member of the tender gender.

Make no mistake about it, the naming of cats is anything but a trifling matter. Here, for example, is what T. S. Eliot had to say regarding this weighty affair in his poem, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats:

"The naming of cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have three different names.

First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey --
All of them sensible everyday names.

There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter --
But all of them sensible everyday names.

But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?

Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum --
Names that never belong to more than one cat."

Therefore, according to this reckoning, airport staffers still owe Olivia at least one more name and they should endeavor to get it right this time. But, wait, that is not all. The job of naming a cat is far more complicated.

"But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover --
But the cat himself knows, and will never confess.

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular name."

Accordingly, all those who steadfastly believe that a contemplative cat is all the time daydreaming about culinary and amorous delights are dead wrong. Eliot's theory also goes a long way toward explaining why cats so seldom come running when they are summoned.

Photos: Manchester Evening News.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Jeremy Tuffly Feeds a Kitten to a Pet Python but When It Demurs He Does the Foul Deed Himself by Kicking It to Death

"Congratulations, Phoenix! We have the one guy on the planet who was out-classed by a snake. Hopefully, he can look on the bright side: if he doesn't like jail, at least he has Hell to look forward to."
-- James King of the Phoenix New Times

Cat owners in the Brislington section of Bristol were left horrified back in June when a pet Burmese python belonging to Darren Bishop devoured Martin and Helen Wadey's beloved four-year-old cat, Wilbur. (See Cat Defender post of September 8, 2009 entitled "Four-Year-Old Wilbur Is Ambushed and Eaten Whole by a Thirteen-Foot-Long Burmese Python in Bristol.")

Although Bishop should not have left the snake unattended, there is nothing in the record to suggest that he did so just so that it could prey upon cats and other domestic animals. That is considerably more than can be said for twenty-eight-year-old Jeremy Tuffly of Mesa, Arizona, who deliberately fed a kitten to a python of unknown pedigree. (See photo above of him.)

When the snake, for whatever reason, repeatedly refused to kill the kitten Tuffly did the job himself by kicking it across the yard until it died. Like so many teenage hoodlums who film their deadly assaults upon sleeping homeless men so that they can relive their devilry over and over again, Tuffly also filmed his murder of the kitten.

An unidentified individual somehow got hold of a DVD of the attacks and promptly delivered it to legendary Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Tuffly was accordingly arrested on August 31st on suspicion of felony animal cruelty.

Far from being an isolated case, Tuffly is not the only person who abuses and kills cats and other animals for cinematic purposes. Pornographers have been making a mint for years filming naked women in stiletto heels stomping to death defenseless kittens and puppies.

The issue of whether the flagrant crimes committed against animals in these so-called crush videos are protected by the First Amendment is currently before the United States Supreme Court in a case entitled United States versus Stevens and a ruling is expected sometime this term. Since the statute being challenged, Public Law 106-152, 18 U.S.C. section 48 entitled "Depictions of Animal Cruelty," applies only to crush videos trafficked in either interstate or foreign commerce, the court's ruling will have no impact upon the production of home videos, such as the one made by Tuffly, that are not sold.

Worst still, if the sentiments expressed by the justices during oral arguments on October 6th are any indication of how they plan on voting, they are going to uphold the constitutionality of these videos and the senseless slaughter of kittens and puppies is going to continue. (See Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2009, "Supreme Court Weighs Free Speech Versus Animal Cruelty.")

The case in Mesa moreover demonstrates that even much-maligned pythons have considerably more scruples than do cretins like Tuffly. "Congratulations, Phoenix! We have the one guy on the planet who was out-classed by a snake," James King astutely pointed out in the Phoenix New Times on September 1st.(See "Police Say a Mesa Man Tried to Feed a Kitten to a Python, Then Killed It Himself When the Snake Wouldn't.") "Hopefully, he can look on the bright side: if he doesn't like jail, at least he has Hell to look forward to."

If he does indeed wind up in Hades, Tuffly is not going to get lonesome. In fact, he is going to be joined by so many of his fellow Arizonians that it is going to look like old home week around the Devil's dinner table.

For example, since mid-September fourteen cats from Tempe, Chandler, East Phoenix, and Tuffly's own Mesa have had their backs sliced open by unknown fiends. Two of them died from their wounds while those lucky enough to have survived were forced to undergo costly surgeries and extended convalescence.

Another twenty felines have been poisoned and their bodies dumped in a canal in Phoenix. All of that is in addition to at least another two dozen moggies who have been either poisoned or torched in central Phoenix. (See Phoenix Pet News Examiner, October 28, 2009, "Catch a Cat Killer, Make $7,500.")

"It's really sad that these cats are being mutilated," Arpaio told the Arizona Republic on October 27th in reference to the fourteen victimized cats. (See "Sheriff's Office Searching for East Valley Cat Killer.") "They go home and their owners have to see this. These people love their animals. I don't blame them for being very angry."

Regardless of whatever happens to Tuffly, the problems associated with individuals keeping pythons as pets are not about to go away anytime soon. For example, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) on September 11th removed an eighteen-foot, four-hundred-pound pet Burmese python named Delilah from the home of Melvin Cheever in Apopka due to concerns over its size and the fact that it had previously escaped from its cage. (See photo above.)

"To me, it's a Goliath," the FFWCC's Rick Brown told the Orlando Sentinel on September 11th. (See "Wildlife Officials Seize 'Monster' Eighteen-Foot Python in Apopka.") "It's a monster of a snake."

Even thirty-nine-year-old Charlene Boush, who lives with Cheever, was afraid that Delilah was one day going to kill her dogs. "She (Delilah) got out last week. They had to put her back in. I don't let them (the dogs) go back there at all," she told the Orlando Sentinel.

Quite obviously, behemoths like Delilah have to eat and in her case it is rabbits. "I fed her this morning, gave her seven rabbits," Cheever told the Orlando Sentinel in the article cited supra.

That gruesome and barbaric tidbit of news brings up the seldom discussed moral dilemma of not only keeping pythons as pets, but more importantly of confining large carnivores in zoos, captive breeding facilities, circuses, and stage shows. In particular, sacrificing live rabbits, cats, chickens, sheep, goats and other domestic animals to caged carnivores is both unnatural and morally indefensible.

Wild carnivores belong in legally protected habitats where they are able to hunt their natural prey instead of being hand-fed domestic animals. The reason that these egregious crimes continue unabated is that wildlife biologists and conservationists long ago sold out wild animals to economic concerns and as a consequence most of them no longer have anywhere to live except in cages.

Delilah, who initially was entrusted to the care of a reptile specialist, has since been given to a zoo where she awaits an uncertain fate.

Even in locales where they are native pythons can cause problems. For example, Erik Rantzau of northern Australia recently got a scare when he lifted up the lid to his commode and found a three-foot-long diamond python curled up inside.

"Ich wusste erst gar nicht, was es war, weil die Schlange ganz eingerollt war und such nicht bewegte," he told Stern on September 7th. (See "Drei Meter-Python in der Kloschuessel entdeckt.") Fortunately, he was not injured and a reptile specialist was notified who came and removed the snake. It was later humanely returned to the bush.

Like their Burmese cousins, diamond pythons are non-poisonous although they do have teeth and will bite. Living on the outback has taught Rantzau to exercise caution, especially when going to the loo.

"Ich bin immer noch etwas beklommen, wenn ich ins Badezimmer gehe," he told Stern. "Ich bin jetzt immer vorsichtig, wenn ich den Klodeckel hebe."

A two-year-old girl named Shaiunna from Sumter County, Florida, was not nearly so fortunate when a nine-foot-long pet albino Burmese python escaped from its enclosure on July 1st and strangled her to death. Her mother, nineteen-year-old Jaren Hare, and the snake's owner, thirty-two-year-old Charles J. Darnell, were subsequently charged with manslaughter, third degree murder, and child abuse.

The little girl thus became the twelfth person nationwide to have been killed by various breeds of pythons since 1980.

Photos: Phoenix New Times (Tuffly) and George Skene of the Orlando Sentinel (Delilah).

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Robin Hood, Who Survived a Near Fatal Bow and Arrow Wounding, Is Sent to a Sanctuary in Order to Live Out the Remainder of His Life

"We didn't want to send him back into the wild."
-- Abigail Appleton of the Humane Society of Pinellas County

Robin Hood, who was shot in his right front leg with a two-foot-long aluminum arrow in early summer, was transferred to a sanctuary in Sarasota operated by In Defense of Animals on October 22nd where he will be able to live out the remainder of his life. (See photo above of him in the back of his carrier upon arrival.)

He was discovered on June 16th at the junction of U.S. 19 and Whitney Road in the High Point neighborhood of Clearwater by feral cat caregiver Gail McFarland who promptly notified the Humane Society of Pinellas County (HSP). By that time Robin Hood already had been walking around with the arrow embedded in his leg for perhaps as long as forty-eight hours and surely would have died from either a loss of blood, infection, predation, or starvation if it had not been for McFarland's timely heroics and compassion.

Although he had to undergo a rather lengthy convalescence, he has now made a full recovery. (See photo below of him shortly after surgery.)

Initially, HSP had planned on putting him up for adoption but that plan was later aborted because of his feral nature. At In Defense of Animals, he will join other cats who have been victims of cruelty, abandonment, and sickness. Although not strictly limited to cats, the sanctuary has been caring for hundreds of animals in distress since its founding in 1989.

"We didn't want to send him back into the wild," HSP's Abigail Appleton told the St. Petersburg Times on October 20th. (See "Cat Shot by Arrow to Be Set Free in Sanctuary.")

Actually, almost any feral cat can be socialized to one degree or another provided that the appropriate amount of time and resources are invested in the project. There are not too many of them around, but there are nonetheless some extremely bright individuals who have the savoir-faire for such a demanding task.

Of course, HSP probably has neither the time nor the resources for such an undertaking. The best that therefore can be hoped for is that Robin Hood will have a long and happy life at the sanctuary.

At least he will be safe there against the machinations of those monsters who get their kicks by shooting down cats with bows. Nevertheless, it is a shame that no one could be found who was willing to have invested the resources needed to socialize him for domestic life. Considering all that he has been through, he most certainly deserved the special care that only a loving family is able to provide.

It is disturbing that no arrests have been made in this case. Despite the rash of cats who have been shot by archers in the Tampa area in recent years, neither the police nor humane officials can be prevailed upon to take these types of attacks seriously.

"For someone to be out there shooting him (Robin Hood) is just unimaginable to me," McFarland commented at the time of the rescue. "I don't know what kind of person does that. If they are going to hunt animals, what's next, children?" (See Cat Defender post of July 23, 2009 entitled "Robin Hood Is Wounded in the Leg in Yet Still Another Bow and Arrow Attack Upon a Cat in the Tampa Area.")

McFarland is making an important point. It is just too bad that the authorities are far too deaf to ever hear her.

Alles Gute, Robin Hood!

Photos: HSP and Bay News 9.