Stefan W., Who Publicly Boasted of Scalding Kitty to Death in a Washing Machine, Is Let Off by a Berlin Court with a Measly Fine
"Sie ist doch von alleine rein in die Maschine. Ich idiot hab' das im Park den Kollegen erzaehlt. Denunzianten!"
-- Stefan W.
With hatred of cats being as old and as widespread as it is, it is easy to be lulled into believing that human ingenuity has exhausted itself when it comes to the various methods of eradicating them. Ailurophobes cannot, however, be underestimated under any circumstances.
"All things were possible with cats because some people seem to regard them as fair game for any cruelty," veterinarian James Herriot observed in his book, Cat Stories. They are routinely drowned, suffocated, dumped on busy highways, electrocuted, frozen to death, shot with bullets, arrows, Tasers, and BBs, doused with acid, hideously mutilated, poisoned, snared in deadly leghold traps, and even run through wood chippers.
Shelters gas and poison millions of them each year, the Chinese, Swiss, and Australians consume their flesh and traffic in their pelts, vivisectors have a field day torturing the life out of them, and the diabolical South Africans killed thousands of them on Marion Island by deliberately infecting them with panleukemia. It is scarcely a wonder that cats are said to have nine lives because they certainly need all of them.
To this ever-growing list of feline eradication methods, scalding in hot water must now be added. Back in June, thirty-nine-year-old Stefan W. from the community of Steglitz in the borough of Steglitz-Zehlendorf in southwest Berlin was convicted of scalding to death his cat, Kitty, in a washing machine. (See photo of him above.)
Incensed over Kitty's incessant grooming, Stefan stuffed the small mackerel-colored cat into his washing machine along with a blanket and started the wash cycle. Amazingly, Kitty somehow survived this ordeal but that served only to further anger Stefan who subsequently put her through a second cycle which ultimately killed her.
He then froze her body, thawed it out, and finally buried it. He then went out and bought another cat.
In all likelihood, this monster would have gotten away with his hideous crime if he had not gone to the park and boasted of his evil deed to acquaintances who, to their credit, did the right thing and ratted him out to the authorities. "Sie ist doch von alleine rein in die Maschine," he is quoted by B.Z. Berlin on June 24th as saying. (See "Katze in Maschine totgewaschen.") "Ich idiot hab' das im Park den Kollegen erzaehlt. Denunzianten!"
At his trial, Stefan thought that he could escape punishment by mouthing an insincere "tut mir ja so leid," but the presiding judge refused to have any of that. "Sie haben Katze Kitty im Waschgang gewaschen, um sie zu toeten!" the judge fired back.
In the end, however, Stefan got off rather lightly in that the judge fined him only thirteen-hundred-fifty euros and barred him from owning any more cats. For such a despicable crime he should have been given life in prison without parole.
Just as Kitty failed to receive justice from a Berlin court, so too was the case with a Welsh cat known as Paws. (See photo above.)
The six-year-old deaf white cat was scalded to death in a washing machine on July 8, 2006 by then forty-two-year-old Diane Hannon of Old Colwyn in Conwy County Borough. The official cause of death was listed as a heart attack, but the cat also suffered severe burns and a loss of fur as the result of the scalding that it received.
At the time of the crime, Hannon was cat-sitting at the flat of her boyfriend, Duncan Carthy, while he was away visiting his son. Before he departed, the duo had argued about his ex-wife and children. (See photo above of her.)
In a jealous fit, Hannon then took out her frustrations on Paws. When Carthy later telephoned to inquire about Paws, Hannon is quoted by the BBC on December 19, 2006 as telling him, "I hate you! No, I've killed it!" (See "Pet Cat Killed in Washing Machine.")
At that time, Carthy thought that Hannon was having him on but when he returned home the next day to an empty apartment he discovered to his horror that she had not been jesting. In fact, she had not even bothered to remove Paws's scalded body from the washing machine.
This case is somewhat of an anomaly in that the perpetrator was a woman. In most domestic disputes involving cats it is almost always the man who takes out his wrath on his partner's cat.
That was what happened recently when former New York Mets' farmhand Joseph Petcka used a pair of steel-toed boots in order to stomp to death Sports Illustrated reporter Lisa Altobelli's cat, Norman.
At her trial in Llandudno Magistrates Court in November of 2006, Hannon readily admitted that she had indeed intended to harm the totally innocent Paws but not to kill the cat. Speaking in her defense, lawyer Peter Brown told the court that since she was suffering from depression she was not thinking "coldly and calmly" at the time of the incident.
Although he declared that this was the worst act of animal cruelty to ever come before him, District Judge Andrew Shaw ultimately bought into Brown's argument and let off his client with a four-month suspended jail sentence. Hannon was banned from owning any pets for as long as she lives and ordered to pay three-hundred pounds in court costs but those added punishments are too trivial to be of any consequence.
Despite the absurdity of the ruling, the RSPCA's Kevin Paton was pleased with the outcome. "This sends a strong signal to the public that animal cruelty will not be tolerated," he ludicrously crowed to the BBC on February 5, 2007. (See "Suspended Sentence for Cat Killer.")
If press reports are to be believed, a tomcat named Zorro from Hannover escaped serious injury this past July 31st when he inadvertently became trapped inside a washing machine. (See photo of him directly above.)
The unsuspecting cat allegedly climbed into the already loaded machine on July 30th and slept there overnight. At seven a.m. the following morning, three-year-old Can and four-year-old Deniz activated the machine without realizing that Zorro was inside.
Once Zorro started screaming, his plight came to the attention of the boys' twenty-one-year-old mother who inexplicably telephoned the Fire Department as opposed to simply shutting off the machine. Luckily for Zorro, the firefighters arrived a scant ten minutes later and freed him.
By that time the water temperature had reached thirty degrees Celsius on its way to a deadly ninety degrees Celsius. Although he outwardly at least came through his ordeal no worse for wear, Zorro was taken to Tieraerztliche Hochschule Hannover where he was kept for observation over the weekend.
"Kater hatte grosses Glueck," Michael Ferl of the university told the Hannover Reporter on July 31st. (See "Kater ueberlebt Waschgang in Waschmaschine.") "...sieben Leben kann man woertlich nehmen...beschreibt den Gesundheitszustand des Tieres...solche Faelle sind leider nicht selten..."
There are several obvious problems with this rather fantastic story. First of all, it is difficult to believe that the lads failed to notice that Zorro was inside the machine. Since it was a front-end loader, they had to close the door and lock it before the machine would start. (See photo above of the machine.)
Secondly, although cats are renown for their love of wallowing in warm clothing that has been recently removed from the dryer, there is little evidence to support the thesis that they are similarly attracted to smelly, dirty laundry.
Thirdly, the boys' mother could have interrupted the wash cycle at any time by simply either opening the door or turning off the electricity. Instead, she risked killing Zorro by allowing him to remain trapped inside for an additional ten minutes.
It therefore is conceivable that the lads deliberately locked Zorro inside the machine as a deadly prank. Consequently, humane officials should have launched an immediate investigation into this matter. Even more importantly, Zorro should have been removed from the home because this obviously dysfunctional family has proven itself to be incapable of properly caring for him.
Animal cruelty is no less egregious simply because the perpetrators are minors. Even boys as young as these two are nevertheless capable of all sorts of cruel mischief.
Photos: B.Z.Berlin (Stefan W.), BBC (Paws and Hannon), and Hannover Reporter (Zorro and washing machine.)