Bay City Shelter Murders a Six-Week-Old Kitten with a Common Cold Despite Several Individuals Having Offered to Give It a Permanent Home
"Sheer incompetence by shelter workers yet again! What is going on in so-called animal shelters where they can murder six-week-old kittens after five days? This is American society at the moment, one that does not care one iota about its own citizens or its animals."
On May 26th, staff at the Bay County Animal Shelter (BCAS) in Bay City, Michigan, murdered a six-week-old, unnamed kitten despite the fact that a woman in Washington State had offered to give it a home. (See photo above.)
The kitten was photographed on May 25th by John Ehlke of The Bay City Times and its image appeared on the world wide web a day later. (See The Bay City Times, May 28, 2010, "Update: Bay County Kitten Gets International Attention, New Home.") In addition to the offer of a home in Washington, similar inquiries were received from California, Iowa, and Sweden.
Since shelter manager Mike Halstead had ordered the kitten to be killed on May 26th, in all likelihood it already was dead before its photograph appeared on the web. Consequently, The Bay City Times was forced to retract its earlier story.
Halstead claims that the kitten was murdered because it had developed a kennel cough. By that he most likely means that it had some sort of feline upper respiratory infection (URI) since the term kennel cough is usually reserved for dogs.
Similar to the common cold in humans, upper respiratory infections in cats usually clear up within three weeks and are rarely fatal. Consequently, Halstead most certainly did not have a legitimate reason for snuffing out this tiny kitten's life.
The fact that it had a cough was just one more rationale that he invented out of thin air in order to justify his unquenchable thirst for feline blood. If all individuals were sent to the gallows every time that they either coughed or sneezed nearly everyone would be long dead.
He additionally claims that the kitten never was put up for adoption and instead blames the confusion on an unidentified worker at the shelter. The employee "probably just did it because we're always busy," he told The Bay City Times on June 1st. (See "Update: Bay County Animal Shelter Official Says Kitten That Attracted International Attention Was Euthanized.") "It was the wrong thing to do. We operate an aboveboard operation here."
That self-serving palaver drew the immediate ire of the editor of Moggies. "Sheer incompetence by shelter workers yet again! What is going on in so-called animal shelters where they can murder six-week-old kittens after five days?" she asked rhetorically June 5th on the organization's web site. "This is American society at the present moment, one that does not care one iota about its own citizens or its animals."
While there is sans doute much truth in her characterization of American society as being dog-eat-dog, she is naive if she believes that this helpless kitten was killed by mistake. Au contraire, its fate was sealed the instant that it fell into the deadly clutches of Animal Control and that dire assessment is borne out by an examination of the facts.
As far as it can be ascertained from press reports, the kitten arrived at the shelter on May 21st and was murdered in cold blood on May 26th simply because it was not wearing a collar. Under Michigan law it is permissible to kill collarless shelter animals after five days whereas those with collars are generously allowed to go on breathing for an additional two days by the state's high and mighty legislators.
Such a policy is not only discriminatory but idiotic as well. Not only can collars break and be deliberately removed, but some cat owners refuse to use them because of the health hazards that they pose. (See Cat Defender post of May 28, 2008 entitled "Collars Turn into Death Traps for Trooper and Que but Both Are Rescued at the Eleventh Hour.")
Consequently, not all collarless cats and dogs who become caught up in the deadly web of intrigue spun by Animal Control officers and shelter workers are necessarily homeless. The Michigan law does, however, serve its purpose, which is to provide an additional rationale for shelters to continue slaughtering cats and dogs in droves.
Secondly, since shelter honchos already had made up their devious little minds to kill the kitten it is highly unlikely that its URI was at any point in time treated. That is what happened to Maria Hernandez's cat, Frankie, after he wound up at the Northeast Animal Control Shelter in El Paso back in March bleeding from both his mouth and stomach.
Since he was neither microchipped nor tagged, shelter director Eddie Castro withheld treatment. Luckily, Hernandez located him in the nick of time and was able to get him to a legitimate vet. (See KTSM-TV of El Paso, March 31, 2010, "Woman Furious over Untreated Cat.")
BSAS's unconscionable decision not to treat the kitten's cough cannot be justified on grounds that it lacked the money because the adoption fee that it would have collected would have more than covered its veterinary tab. On top of that, the shelter surely must have taken in a considerable amount of money from people around the world once the kitten's story appeared on the web.
Speaking more broadly, it should be legally mandated that all animals receive the veterinary care that they need and deserve regardless of their socio-economic status, the severity of their health woes, their adoptability, and whether or not they are wearing a collar. Any other system of triage is cruel, inhumane, and barbaric and belongs to the Dark Ages. (See Cat Defender post of April 18, 2010 entitled "Ally's Last Ride Lands Her in a Death Trap Set by an Uncaring and Irresponsible Supermarket Chain and a Bargain Basement Shelter.")
Thirdly, the kitten in Bay City was healthy when it entered Halstead's overcrowded and, most likely, filthy as hell facility. In another Bay City Times' article also dated May 28th he admits that the cat pens at his shelter house between four and eight animals! (See "Bay County Adopt a Shelter Pet Campaign Begins Today.") Although it is not known how large these so-called pens are, it is good bet that they are standing room only cages.
If there ever was a prescription for URI that would be it since it is precisely overcrowding, poor air quality, sanitation, and nutrition, plus a stressful environment that trigger outbreaks of the disease. Being a retired Bay City fireman with no known prior shelter experience, Halstead has all the markings of a political hack who knows little or nothing about cats and, tant pis, could care less if they live or die.
The shelter's staggeringly high kill rate certainly supports that thesis. For example, during the first three months of this year BSAS killed all but eleven of the three-hundred-sixty-four cats that it took in and that equates to an extermination rate of ninety-seven per cent. (See photo on the left below of the exterior of the feline killing factory.)
On the other hand, BSAS found homes for one-hundred-sixty-five of the three-hundred-twenty-one dogs that passed through its portals. While killing 48.6 per cent of its dogs is bad enough, it is a far cry from the ninety-seven per cent of cats that it killed. Such a disparity is inherently discriminatory on its face and demonstrates writ large the utter contempt that BSAS has for feline life.
By way of comparison, BSAS's feline extermination rate matches that of PETA which annually kills ninety-eight per cent of all animals that have the misfortune to end up at its Norfolk, Virginia, facility. If the large number of cats and dogs that its mentally-warped acolytes kill in the field were added to the total PETA's murder rate would be around one-hundred per cent. (See Cat Defender posts of January 29, 2007 and February 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in North Carolina Courtroom" and "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs.")
Predictably, Halstead is dishonestly attempting to excuse his own crimes by erroneously blaming cats for being prolific breeders. "If you start with a pair of cats, by the time they're done they will have accounted for thousands because of their litter and their litter's litter and so on," he pontificated to The Bay City Times in the second May 28th article cited supra.
The notion that an adult female cat and her daughters are capable of producing four-hundred-twenty-thousand kittens within a seven-year period is an old and often repeated lie. Relying upon data collected by wildlife biologist Michael Stoskopf of North Carolina State University, the math department at the University of Washington puts the actual number at closer to between one-hundred and four-hundred.
Even that estimate is predicated upon one-hundred per cent of all the adult cats surviving the entire seven-year period. Therefore, the actual number is far lower than even the mathematicians' calculations would tend to indicate. (See The Feral Cat Times, February 2006, "Dispel the Myth: Four-Hundred-Twenty-Thousand Cats?" and "How Many Kittens in Seven Years?")
The discrepancy lies in the high mortality rate of kittens which is estimated to be between seventy-five and ninety per cent. Even those homeless kittens that live long enough in order to reach sexual maturity are usually dead within three years.
Common sense alone dictates that if what Halstead and his fellow cat defamers and haters are arguing were true, cats would be as plentiful as mice and mosquitoes. Much more to the point, with Halstead and other shelter operators systematically slaughtering tens of millions of them each year there is little chance that America ever will be overrun with them. (See Cat Defender posts of September 14, 2006 and May 11, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Cat Killing Season Is in Full Swing All Across America as Shelters Ramp Up Their Mass Extermination Pogroms" and "Mass Murderers at SPCA Are Operating an Auschwitz for Cats and Dogs in Lakeland, Florida.")
Halstead next attempts to fob off blame for his crimes onto the shoulders of the public. "It's a travesty that people let that happen (overpopulation), and we just can't warehouse them," he groused to The Bay City Times. "It's unfortunate but that's what happens when people behave irresponsibly and therein lies the problem."
Once again he is telling a self-serving lie that is on a par with a practitioner of genocide blaming his victims for being born in the first place. Besides, he is, to quote an old Chinese proverb, drawing legs on a snake in that homeless cats never should be trapped and brought to overcrowded, filthy, and disease-infested extermination camps of the sort that he is operating. Managed colonies are the solution to that dilemma.
As far as unwanted domesticated cats are concerned, all resources should be put into finding new homes for them. BSAS does that to some extent for dogs and it should be willing to do likewise for cats. That would be a far more productive, not to mention morally acceptable, use of the $55 that it spends on each cat that it kills.
Blaming cats for daring so much as to be born and the public for abandoning them while at the same time continuing to make out like bandits operating a feline mass extermination camp is not only patently dishonest but morally reprehensible as well. Even abandoned cats have some chance of surviving, but those who enter killing factories like BSAS have none whatsoever.
An unidentified spokesperson for the Empty Cages Collective in Brooklyn recently summed up the Hobson's choice facing the public as follows: "What would be the point of rescuing him (a kitten in this instance) just to turn him over to a place that would kill him?" (See The No Kill Advocate, issue number 2, 2010, "Helping Stop Abuse.")
The author went on to add: "...the public leaves animals in egregiously cruel, neglectful or unacceptable situations rather than bring those animals to shelters who kill healthy or treatable animals and show no active intention to stop. Animals stay in abusive situations because the institutions that are designed to help and protect them kill them instead."
The rot and accompanying stench in Bay City extends far beyond BSAS to the Humane Society of Bay County. "I was absolutely in shock when I heard," its president, Jeanne Wolicki-Nichols, swore to The Bay City Times in the June 1st article cited supra. "I had a home lined up all the way back to Washington State for that kitten. I felt really bad."
Actually, it was losing out on the adoption fee and the donations that left her so down in the mouth. This is verified by the fact that it did not take her very long to regain her bonhomie.
"I just want to stress that there are so many other animals at the shelter like that kitten," she added a moment later. C'est-a-dire, the kitten's ruthless, cold-blooded murder is of no consequence as far as she is concerned; she already has dismissed it from her mind and refocused all of her attention upon recouping her coffers.
Sadly, it is doubtful that the kitten even received so much as a proper burial. After all, not only has the shelter refused to give it a name but it will not even specify its gender. It therefore is pretty much certain that its corpse was burned and its ashes thrown out with the day's trash.
Individuals like her and Halstead do not recognize the existence of a moral issue in how kittens and cats are treated. Consequently, the notion that they have an inalienable right to live and that their lives are sacrosanct is a moral precept that is too refined for their coarse, moneygrubbing souls.
Instead they look upon all cats as part of a disposable inventory that they are free to do with as they see fit. If they can peddle a few of them to the public for some silver, so much the better; if not, they must be killed in order to free up cage space for more profitable animals.
It is truly astounding how some individuals are capable of identifying with the victims of genocide but yet are totally incapable of feeling an ounce of empathy for the millions of defenseless animals who every day wind up at the mercy of monsters like Halstead and Wolicki-Nichols. This moral disconnect most likely is attributable to the fact that they never expect to find themselves in the shoes of either a shelter cat or dog.
Because of its unacceptably high extermination rate, overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and gross mismanagement, BSAS immediately should be padlocked and its staff fired. Halstead additionally should be prosecuted for murdering this kitten and confined to a cage for the rest of his days.
If the cruel fate that befell this beautiful kitten sounds familiar it is because an almost identical tragedy was visited upon a one-year-old horribly abused dog named Oreo by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in Manhattan late last year. (See photo above.)
After repeatedly beating her, Fabian Henderson threw Oreo off the sixth-floor roof of a Brooklyn apartment building breaking two of her legs, fracturing a rib, and causing unspecified internal injuries. The ASPCA nursed her back to health and arrested Henderson.
Pets Alive in Middletown, New York, offered to provide her with a home but the ASPCA went ahead and murdered Oreo because it alleged that she was aggressive. While that is a debatable point, it is hard to imagine any dog that was treated as horribly as she was to have been anything other than wary of humans. Besides, aggression can be treated and certainly is not a valid reason for killing any dog.
To add insult to injury, Henderson was let off with six months of probation by Kings County Court Judge Dineen Riviezzo on February 19th of this year. According to press reports, this bum of the bench lavished concern and encouragement all over Henderson but did not express one ounce of concern over how he had abused Oreo.
A bill known as Oreo's Law has been introduced in the New York State Assembly that would make it illegal for shelters to kill animals when a qualified rescue group is willing to give them a home. The proposal, which faces an uphill struggle, is modeled after a similar law enacted in California in 1998.
Even if it is eventually enacted it has enough loopholes in it so as to make it virtually meaningless. For example, it exempts dangerous animals, those that are deemed to be irremediably suffering, and those with rabies.
Shelters and Animal Control officers therefore will be able to continue to designate unprofitable cats and dogs as either aggressive or sick and the wholesale killing will continue. The current system cannot be reformed from either the inside or the outside because it is too corrupt and barbaric.
Animal Control officers and shelter employees are hired guns who get paid handsomely to kill cats and dogs and anyone who engages in such aberrant behavior is totally beyond all redemption. Plus, an entire cottage industry comprised of such merchants of death as the manufacturers of sodium pentobarbital and gas chambers depend upon these moral degenerates for their livelihoods also.
Moreover, the phony-baloney rationales for killing shelter animals are not only practically endless but they are destined to continue to drown out the only consideration that really matters: thou shalt not kill. The only viable alternative therefore is to outlaw the killing of all cats and dogs under all circumstances and thereby put conventional shelters and Animal Control officers out of business once and for all time.
A necessary first step in this process must be counteracting the extraordinary lengths that the conventional media go to in order to whitewash the despicable crimes committed by shelters and Animal Control. (See Cat Defender posts of September 30, 2005 and November 22, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Morally Bankrupt Washington Post Pens a Love Letter to Shelter Workers Who Exterminate Cats and Dogs" and "Texas Newspaper Defends Pet Genocide by Publishing Graphic Photographs of Shelter Workers Exterminating a Dog.")
Although it is a step in the right direction, the fledgling no kill movement is beset by numerous difficulties and contradictions. For example, although Nathan J. Winograd attempted to transform the shelter run by the San Francisco SPCA into a no kill facility, his dream was abandoned by Jan McHugh-Smith after she got her blood-drenched hands on the reigns of power.
Although she recently quit in order to kill cats and dogs in Colorado, not much improvement is expected in the status of shelter animals in the city by the bay. (See Cat Defender post of July 2, 2007 entitled "Cats Are Being Poisoned with Antifreeze in San Francisco but Animal Control Refuses to Take Killings Seriously.")
New York City continues to blow a considerable amount of smoke about ending the killings while simultaneously postponing the date for doing so into the distant future. For whatever it is worth, 2015 is the city's latest target date for achieving no kill status. (See Gotham Gazette, May 14, 2010, "Housing Project Cats Face Eviction -- or Worse" and Cat Defender post of November 5, 2007 entitled "Port Authority Gives JFK's Long-Term Resident Felines the Boot and Rescue Groups Are Too Impotent to Save Them.")
Feline sanctuaries are another good idea although even some of them are operated by hoarders, exploiters, and killers. (See Cat Defender posts of May 10, 2010 and May 17, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Lunatic Rulings in Cats With No Name Cruelty Cases Prove Once Again That Pennsylvania Is a Safe Haven for Cat Killers and Junkies" and "Julie Levy and Her Henchmen Ride to the Rescue of Maury Swee's Severely Neglected Cats and Promptly Slaughter at Least One-Hundred-Eighty-Five of Them.")
It is going to be interesting to see if Winograd and the rest of the high-muck-a-mucks within the no kill movement are going to be able to overcome their ingrained prejudices and thereby rise to the occasion and champion the cause of the Bay City kitten. Par exemple, will they actively sponsor a bill in Michigan that will stop BSAS and other shelters from killing cats that have homes waiting for them?
If not, it then will be clear that the no kill movement cares only about dogs. The kitten's death was announced two weeks ago and so far no one has heard so much as a peep out of him or anyone else in the movement.
It is imperative therefore that all individuals who love cats understand that in a world dominated by sight and sound no one or group can be taken at either face value or their word. The proof, as always, is in the pudding.
All of that, however, must wait for another day and another fight. Tonight is reserved for mourning and remembering the Bay City kitten...its sad face and the desperate look upon it as it spent its last terrifying hours on death row...and the full and happy life that it could have had in Washington as an adult cat...
Photos: John Ehlke of The Bay City Times (kitten), Bay County (shelter), and Nathan J. Winograd (Oreo).