Trapped and Killed by the Delaware County SPCA, Keecha'a Life Is Valued at Only $1 by a Pennsylvania Arbitration Panel
"I am very happy we won. I would do this all over again."
-- Margaret Reynard
How much is the life of a beloved family cat worth? Only one dollar. At least that is the considered opinion of a Pennsylvania arbitration panel comprised of a trio of shysters.
That insulting ruling was handed down on January 8th against the Delaware County SPCA for its cold-blooded murder of Upper Darby resident Margaret Reynard's eight-year-old cat, Keecha, on April 11, 2006. That there was an award at all was due to the fact that the SPCA violated its own rule that cats be held for seventy-two hours before being killed.
In poor Keecha's case, she was killed a scant twenty-four hours after having been victimized by both the SPCA and Upper Darby's draconian anti-roaming laws.
Press reports fail to disclose either the names of the arbitrators or why they awarded Reynard only one dollar as opposed to the $50,000 that she had been seeking in compensation. "I think (the arbitrators) believe a wrong was done, but this was all they could legitimately give," Reynard's attorney, Kevin Fitzgerald, told the Philadelphia Inquirer on January 9th. (See "Delco Owner of Euthanized Cat Wins Case.")
To have her own attorney defend the arbitrators' outrageous ruling is certainly the last thing that Reynard needed to hear in light of the fact that she foolishly paid him $2,500 to try the case. That was in addition to ponying up for a necropsy and toxicology tests, filing a complaint with the state veterinary board, and putting in more than one-hundred hours at a library researching the law.
Despite the Pyrrhic nature of her victory, Reynard surprisingly expressed satisfaction at the outcome. "I am very happy we won," she told the Inquirer. "I would do this all over again."
As far as the SPCA is concerned, it attempted to hide behind one lie after another throughout the proceedings. For example, former shelter manager Nicole Wilson testified that Keecha was aggressive and therefore had to die.
Reynard vehemently denied that charge and instead testified that Keecha was shy and quiet. Moreover, Keecha had been serving as a therapy cat for Reynard's foster children.
The SPCA's lies about Keecha and other cats are as old as the hills. In reality, there are not any aggressive cats, except perhaps for those that either have contracted rabies or are acting in self-defense.
The so-called temperament testing techniques employed by shelters, such as poking ballpoint pens inside their cages, are a dishonest joke. Any caged cat will defend itself against objects thrust in its direction.
"Trying to temperament test a cat is fraught with more problems than dogs," Nathan Winograd of the No-Kill Advocacy Center wrote in an online article a while back. (See "Temperament Testing in the Age of No-Kill.") "In most shelters, cats are relegated to tiny cages, which not only precludes species-typical behavior, but requires them to sleep, eat, and defecate in the same space, something so contrary to feline behavior that I believe it is difficult to accurately access a cat in that environment."
Much more importantly, Winograd does not believe that even those cats with so-called behavioral issues should be killed. Au contraire, even those animals can be placed in barns and homeless colonies if not in traditional homes.
Norman L. Haase, who represented the SPCA at the hearing, attempted to excuse the killing of Keecha as a one-time mistake. "This represents the findings of negligence on one day in April of 2006," he swore to the Philadelphia Inquirer in the article cited supra.
The Inquirer, however, unearthed evidence that another cat was prematurely killed by the SPCA only a few weeks before Keecha was eliminated. Furthermore, in that case the SPCA falsified records by claiming that the cat had bitten a shelter employee.
A little bit later in 2006, the SPCA accepted receipt of the homeless cats that Eastern University in St. Davids had removed from its campus while its students were away on Christmas break. All of those cats most likely were killed upon arrival. (See Cat Defender post of February 12, 2007 entitled "God-Fearing Baptists at Eastern University Kill Off Their Feral Cats on the Sly while Students Are Away on Christmas Break.")
As Winograd and others have pointed out time and time again, Animal Control officers and shelters are in the business of killing cats and dogs. That is what they get paid to do by a public that is, on the one hand, too morally bankrupt to respect the sanctity of all animal life and too lazy and cheap on the other hand to demand that the killers be divested of their blood money and that it instead be put into socialization and adoption services, sanctuaries, and veterinary care.
Just as importantly, no one should be bamboozled into believing that these killers are decent individuals who care about animals. That is pure rubbish! They are instead sadistic killers who should be accorded the same brand of justice that is meted out to war criminals. (See Cat Defender posts of September 30, 2005, November 23, 2005, and May 11, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Morally Bankrupt Washington Post Pens a Love Letter to Shelter Workers Who Exterminate Cats and Dogs," "Texas Newspaper Defends Pet Genocide by Publishing Graphic Photographs of Shelter Workers Exterminating a Dog," and "Mass Murderers at SPCA Are Operating an Auschwitz for Cats and Dogs in Lakeland, Florida.")
In addition to all the shekels that the killers themselves rake in, a highly lucrative cottage industry has grown up around these en masse exterminations. First and foremost are the purveyors of sodium pentobarbital and other deadly drugs, the manufacturers of gas chambers, and those who either burn or cart off the millions of corpses.
There is very little that is positive to be said about either these individuals or organizations. They are all bad but some of them, such as PETA, are worse than others. (See Cat Defender posts of February 9, 2007 and January 29, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs" and "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in North Carolina Courtroom.")
The killing of Keecha also demonstrates how unfairly Pennsylvania legislators treat cats. For instance, whereas state law mandates that shelters must hold impounded dogs for at least seventy-two hours before killing them, cats may be killed twenty-four hours after arrival. In Reynard's case, she tragically arrived two hours too late in order to have saved Keecha.
Finally, Upper Darby's anti-roaming statute is not only contrary to nature but inhumane and cruel as well. Former Illinois Governor Adlai E. Stevenson understood that all too well when on April 23, 1949 he vetoed a similar bill rammed through the legislature by cat-hating bird advocates.
"I cannot agree that it should be the declared public policy of Illinois that a cat visiting a neighbor's yard or crossing the highway is a public nuisance. It is the nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming. Many live with their owners in apartments or other restricted premises, and I doubt if we want to make their every brief foray an opportunity for a small game hunt by zealous citizens -- with traps or otherwise," he astutely pointed out.
Nevertheless, that is exactly what anti-roaming statutes, such as the one in situ in Upper Darby, ultimately lead to as well as, quite often, the murder of cats such as Keecha.
Stevenson did not stop there but instead went on to add: "The problem of cat versus bird is as old as time. If we attempt to resolve it by legislation who knows but what we may be called upon to take sides as well in the age-old problems of dog versus cat, bird versus bird, or even bird versus worm."
In The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens likened the law to a knife that cuts very sharp and deep but not too evenly and as a consequence those who are attempting to use it against cats would do well to bear in mind that such efforts could boomerang against them. (See Cat Defender post of March 10, 2009 entitled "Audubons' Dirty Dealings with the Mercenary United States Fish and Wildlife Service Redound to the Detriment of Acorn Woodpeckers.")
No one knows how many domestic cats are murdered by shelters and Animal Control officers each year but the number is not insignificant and the problem is worldwide in scope. For example, in May of 2007 the RSPCA trapped and two and one-half hours later killed Katherine and Paul Parker-Brice's beloved nineteen-year-old cat, Mork, in Ruislip, Middlesex. (See photo above.)
This incident was triggered by a cat-hating neighbor who sicced the RSPCA on Mort when he strayed into her precious little garden. Even more revolting, the RSPCA ignored its own guidelines which stipulate that all cats picked up must be taken to a veterinarian, that "Lost Cat" posters be put up, and neighbors leafleted before any blood is spilled.
The gulf between the RSPCA's rhetoric and its behavior was not lost on Mrs. Parker-Brice. "The RSPCA quickly prosecutes anyone who neglects animals yet here it is killing them indiscriminately," she pointed out.
The RSPCA's murder of Mork not only left the Parker-Brices devastated but also his sister, Mindy. "This man's (Mork's killer) broken our hearts. He has left Mork's sister, Mindy, without a companion," Mrs. Parker-Brice continued. "They were together for nineteen years and have now been torn apart by a careless, casual act. His sister is pinning for him. She keeps wandering around the house looking for him."
Like Reynard, the Parker-Brices instituted legal action against the RSPCA but it has not been possible to ascertain the outcome of their suit. (See Cat Defender post of June 5, 2007 entitled "RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated.")
This outrageous situation is further exacerbated by the existence of some shelters that are so trigger-happy that they do not even bother to ascertain if individuals surrendering cats are in fact their lawful owners. This glaring dereliction of duty thus allows inveterate cat-haters, such as Richard DeSantis of West Islip on Long Island, to get away with illegally trapping their neighbors' cats and then turning them over to shelters to kill. (See Cat Defender posts of June 15, 2006 and March 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Serial Cat Killer on Long Island Traps Neighbors' Cats and Then Gives Them to Shelter to Exterminate" and "Long Island Serial Cat Killer Guilty of Only Disorderly Conduct, Corrupt Court Rules.")
Shelters and Animal Control officers acting illegally are not the only entities that cat owners have to fear. Private pest control companies also trap and kill many domestic cats each year. In March of 2007, for example, ABC Lawn and Pest of Houston trapped and gassed Patrick Boland and Shelley Bolek's cat, Butty, in League City. (See photo above on the right.)
"He'd just been such a survivor," a distraught Bolek said at that time. "It was rotten it had to end that way."
Against gargantuan odds, they, too, initiated legal action against ABC Lawn and Pest but it is not known how they fared in court. "It's going to cost more to sue them than he's (Boland) going to collect," their lawyer, Neil Baron, said. "I think his point is to say that people don't have a right to dispose of an animal like this."
Butty's murder did, however, prompt League City to revamp its laws so as to require that all trappers use snares issued by the city and that they then turn over all animals captured to Animal Control as opposed to killing them on the spot. (See Cat Defender post of August 30, 2007 entitled "Texas Couple Files Lawsuit Against Pest Control Company for Trapping and Gassing Their Cat, Butty.")
Fortunately, cat owners are not completely at the mercy of these killers in that there are several proactive measures that they can take in order to safeguard their companions. First of all, they should thoroughly investigate a neighborhood for the presence of cat-haters before moving into it. Local police departments usually have a certain amount of data pertaining to crimes committed against cats but a far better alternative would be to sound out various residents about their experiences with and attitude toward cats.
In some communities, however, cats are not only hated but banned as well. That is the situation at a four-hundred-fifty house development in Farnborough, Hampshire, where both cats and dogs have been declared personae non gratae by the developer, Redrow, in order to allegedly protect endangered species of birds occupying a habitat one mile removed.
Oddly enough, the birds' habitat is open to the public and their pets as well. (See The Times of London, December 27, 2009, "New Estate Bans Cats and Dogs to Protect Bird Life.")
Secondly, it always is a good idea to keep a close eye on cats whenever they are outside. Thirdly, any suspicious vehicles in the neighborhood, such as those belonging to Animal Control officers, pest exterminators, and moving companies, are red flags that danger lurks in the air.
Reynard, the Parker-Brices, and Boland and Bolek are to be commended for their efforts to hold the ruthless killers of their cats accountable in the courts. In the final analysis, however, the only sure-fire way to put an end to these illegal killings is to outlaw the killing of all cats under all circumstances. Otherwise beloved family cats are going to continue to die needlessly.
Photos: Delaware County SPCA (logo), Katherine Parker-Brice (Mork), and the Galveston County Daily News (Butty).