Music Lessons and Buggsey Are Murdered by a Cat-Hating Gardener and an Extermination Factory Posing as an Animal Shelter in Saginaw
"It's nasty the way that people are behaving around here. Where's the cat? Where are our cats?"
-- Teresa J. Jurden
A big shot real estate tycoon with a long history of trapping cats and then turning them over to shelters to exterminate now stands accused of doing likewise to a pair of cats belonging to two Heritage Square residents in Saginaw, Michigan. Fifty-eight-year-old dog-lover Mark Oberschmidt, assisted by an accomplice identified by the media only as Chris, trapped the cats with his own snares and then had them murdered because they allegedly were digging and defecating in a community garden that he owns. (See photo above of him and his dog, Harry, on the prowl in the garden.)
Missing and presumed dead are forty-five-year-old Tammie Tilot's one-year-old black and white, spayed, and declawed cat, Music Lessons, who was last seen on July 29th. Since onychectomies are not only inhumane but painful as well, it is questionable just how much digging Music Lessons was able to do. (See photo of her below.)
Also among the missing are Teresa J. Jurden's one-year-old gray and white moggy, Buggsey, who was last seen on August 1st. "It's nasty the way that people are behaving around here," she told The Saginaw News on August 10th. (See "Cat Trappings Agitate Some Heritage Square Neighborhood Pet Owners in Saginaw.") "Where's the cat? Where are our cats?"
For his part, Oberschmidt freely admits that he trapped cats on July 26th and July 30th and handed them over to Saginaw County Animal Care Center (SCACC). He further concedes that one of them was gray and white but steadfastly maintains that the other one was tiger-striped.
If he is being truthful, the dates of his trappings do not coincide with the disappearances of Tilot's and Jurden's cats although the gray and white cat that he trapped does fit Buggsey's description. "I don't ever want to catch a cat again, because I'm an animal lover," he swore with a straight face to The Saginaw News in the article cited supra. "This isn't something I like to do."
It is interesting to note in passing that although Oberschmidt claims to be an animal lover, he adroitly avoids professing an ounce of affection for cats. It is a mute point anyway because just about all rabid cat-haters and killers, especially birders and wildlife biologists, claim to be cat-lovers.
Even more telling, there is nothing in the record to suggest that he either has apologized to Tilot and Jurden or expressed any remorse over the deaths of Music Lessons and Buggsey. Although he would never publicly admit it, he most likely is extremely proud of not only his dirty work but also of Tilot's and Jurden's sorrow.
Normally, the killing factory in question would be able to settle this dispute and establish the facts but since SCACC kills just about all cats immediately upon arrival it is either unwilling or unable to admit to murdering Music Lessons and Buggsey. It therefore is safe to assume that all cats look alike to the monsters who run SCACC. They most definitely do not treat them as sentient beings endowed by their creator with inalienable rights; rather, SCACC looks upon them as pieces of flesh to be liquidated as quickly as possible.
For instance, cats deemed to be unfriendly are killed immediately upon arrival whereas cats that are classified as friendly are caged and generously allowed to go on breathing for a minuscule four days. Cats wearing tags are supposedly held for a week.
That is a bunch of baloney! All trapped cats are, for good reason, scared to death and unfriendly. Segregating them into friendly and unfriendly categories is done simply in order to justify killing the vast majority of them.
The real reason behind such designations is money. Either shelter space is scarce or staffers believe that some cats are more profitable to them than others. (See Cat Defender post of July 29, 2010 entitled "Benicia Vallejo Humane Society Is Outsourcing the Mass Killing of Kittens and Cats All the While Masquerading as a No-Kill Shelter.")
Statistics from the first four months of this year reveal in gruesome terms exactly what a diabolical course of action SCACC is pursuing. Of the six-hundred-one cats brought to the shelter, four-hundred-sixty-four of them never made it out alive. That works out to a murder rate of 77.20 per cent. Actually, the kill rate could be much higher in that many Animal Control officers around the country kill cats in the field and never even bring them to shelters to be counted.
Only seven of those cats were reunited with their owners while new homes were found for one-hundred-thirty of them. That averages out to slightly more than one adoption per day. It thus is clear that SCACC is running an Auschwitz for cats and has little or no regard for feline life.
The clearest evidence linking Oberschmidt to the cold-blooded murders of Music Lessons and Buggsey comes from an oblique statement made by Saginaw Police Chief Gerald H. Cliff. "The officer taking the report completed an investigation, identified the person reported to have trapped the cats resembling those reported as missing, and (he) admitted having conveyed them to the animal shelter," he told The Saginaw News on August 12th. (See "Saginaw Neighborhood Association President Under Fire for Neighbors' Missing Cats.")
If that is true, then Oberschmidt is lying through his teeth about the dates and descriptions of the cats in order to save his own hide and reputation. After all, he not only owns eight properties in the neighborhood but is president of the Heritage Square Neighborhood Association.
Unable to get any satisfaction out of Oberschmidt, SCACC, the police, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE), Tilot and Jurden have gone public with their cause by erecting signs on their lawns in a last-ditch effort to secure a measure of justice for Music Lessons and Buggsey. They have been joined in their protest by neighbors David and Susan Nicholls. (See photos below.)
Whereas under DNRE guidelines a permit and evidence of property damage are required before private individuals can trap and kill squirrels, it is legal in Michigan for them to trap their neighbors' cats without either permits or incontrovertible evidence of property damage and in turn give them to shelters to kill. The petit fait that cats have less protection under the law than do wild animals will sans doute come as a major shock to individuals who consider their companions to be intimate members of their families. (See The Saginaw News, August 15, 2010, "Animal Control and Wildlife Officials Explain Saginaw Trapping Rules.")
Wicked cat-hating devils like Herr Oberschmidt exploit such glaring loopholes in the law in order to freely indulge in their insatiable lust for feline blood. These loopholes have got to be closed and the only way to do so is to proscribe by law all trapping of cats by private citizens. Furthermore, the same rationale should be equally applied to Animal Control officers and private pest control companies. (See Cat Defender posts of August 30, 2007 and August 21, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Texas Couple Files Lawsuit Against Pest Control Company for Trapping and Gassing Their Cat, Butty" and "Justice Denied: Exterminator Who Gassed Three Cats at the Behest of Fox-35 in Richmond Gets Off with a Minuscule Fine.")
Much more importantly, this prohibition ought to pertain to all cats. Dividing them up into ferals, strays, and domestics for the purpose of establishing a killing triage is as bogus as a three-dollar bill. There is not any difference whatsoever between these groups; a cat is a cat. It is extremely doubtful that orphanages and Social Welfare agencies would be allowed to get away with killing children by simply designating them as either ferals and strays or as friendly and unfriendly.
Besides, allowing both professionals and private citizens to trap cats and shelters to play their deadly labeling games opens up too many avenues for mischief to ever produce a viable working system that respects the primacy of feline life. Nonetheless, the trapping and killing game, like genocide and bigotry, is as old as time itself and has many adherents.
Zum Beispiel, in Ruislip, Middlesex, a disgruntled gardener sicced the RSPCA on Katherine and Paul Parker-Brice's nineteen-year-old cat, Mork, back in 2007. This led to Mork being murdered by the so-called animal protection group a scant two and one-half hours after his capture. (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.")
In the Niederembt section of Elsdorf, thirty kilometers west of Köln, a gardener set out a Nagelbrett in order to keep Manuela Lisken's cat out of his yard last year. When told by a mediator to remove it, he responded by replacing it with a board loaded with mousetraps. (See Cat Defender post of June 10, 2010 entitled "Cat-Hating Gardener in Nordrhein Westfalen Is Told by the Local Authorities to Remove a Board of Nails from His Yard.")
Every bit as ailurophobic as gardeners, bird and wildlife proponents also trap their fair share of their neighbors' cats and give them to shelters to exterminate. In West Islip on Long Island, Oberschmidt's kindred spirit, Richard DeSantis, has made a career out of such patently criminal behavior. (See Cat Defender posts of June 15, 2006 and March 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Serial 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.")
Another favorite tactic of bird advocates is to trap their neighbors' cats and then dump them at faraway, undisclosed locations. They then derive infinite pleasure out of taunting the cats' grieving owners. (See Cat Defender posts of October 30, 2007 and November 16, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Crafty Bird Lover Claims Responsibility for Stealing Six Cats from a Southampton Neighborhood and Concealing Their Whereabouts" and "Fletcher, One of the Cats Abducted from Bramley Crescent, Is Killed by a Motorist in Corhampton.")
Even on those extremely rare occasions when owners are able to get to shelters before the axe falls, they often are forced to give an arm and a leg in order to ransom their cats off of death row. Cats also are sometimes injured during trapping and this costs their owners additional money in the form of the exorbitant fees charged by veterinarians. (See Cat Defender post of October 30, 2006 entitled "Collar Saves a Cat Named Turbo from Extermination After He Is Illegally Trapped by Bird-Loving Psychopaths.")
One of the principal reasons why Oberschmidt and his fellow cat killers are allowed to get away with their despicable crimes stems from the succor that they receive from both the veterinary profession and the capitalist media. Two of their avid supporters are UC-Davis lecturer and practicing veterinarian Sophia Yin and syndicated cat columnist Steve Dale. (See St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 7, 2010, "Trapping Outdoor Cats May Be Only Way to Banish Them.")
In a thoroughly ludicrous one-sided anti-cat screed fobbed off as an editorial, The Saginaw News on August 19th blamed what it calls "inconsiderate or apathetic pet owners" for the cold-blooded murders of Music Lessons and Buggsey. (See "Torn from the Front Page: It's Time to Hold Cat Owners to the Same Requirements as Dog Owners.") That the paper would go to the mat in order to defend Oberschmidt is not surprising in light of the fact that it named him Saginawian of the Year in 2005.
Moreover, since Oberschmidt has been trapping and killing cats at various properties that he owns all over Saginaw for many years, The Saginaw News undoubtedly was aware of his abhorrent conduct when it chose to so honor him. It also has conveniently shielded his accomplice from public scrutiny by categorically refusing to even name him in print.
Even more astounding, it inexcusably exonerates SCACC for its 77.20 per cent feline murder rate and instead places the blame squarely on the shoulders of "irresponsible pet owners." The cat-hating buffoons who edit The Saginaw News quite obviously do not have anything remotely resembling a moral compass and as the result see absolutely nothing wrong with slaughtering thousands of totally innocent cats each year.
If they had been around in either Nazi Germany or Pol Pot's Cambodia they most definitely would have blamed the victims for the crimes committed by their oppressors. In the final analysis, it does not make any moral difference whether a cat roams or stays at home. It is a living being and has an unqualified right to live and it is society's job to protect it.
The moral degenerates at The Saginaw News are not about to go along with that under any circumstances. Instead, they are proposing a ruthless ailurophobic agenda that consists of anti-roaming laws, leash requirements, mandatory vaccination and licensing, and a limit of two cats per household.
First of all, The Saginaw News needs to understand that a cat is not a dog. That is something that former Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson knew all too well when on April 23, 1949 he vetoed an anti-roaming law sponsored by 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," he courageously declared on that momentous occasion. "It is in the nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming."
Just as importantly, he was acutely aware that such draconian legislation would lead to precisely the types of heinous crimes that Oberschmidt proudly admits committing. "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 sagaciously added.
The idiotic and inhumane notion that all cats must be confined indoors for life is pretty much limited to the United States and Canada. In Angleterre, for example, Cats Protection will not allow individuals to adopt any of its cats unless they are able to at the very least provide them with yards in which to roam.
Sentiment in Deutschland pretty much mirrors that found in England. C'est-à-dire, it is considered cruel and inhumane to imprison cats indoors.
In yet still another glaring example of The Saginaw News's blatant dishonesty, its states in its August 12th edition cited supra that one of its reporters spotted feces in Oberschmidt's garden during a visit on August 11th. Despite the myriad of lies told by gardeners, it is extremely unlikely that the fecal matter in question came from a cat.
Anyone with even an elementary acquaintance with the species knows that cats first dig a hole in the ground before either urinating or defecating and then afterwards cover up their byproducts. If loose soil is available, they never leave feces and urine uncovered.
Cats, admittedly, do dig in gardens but to claim that they leave feces uncovered demonstrates the extraordinary lengths that both Oberschmidt and The Saginaw News are prepared to go in order to defame and kill them. More than likely any uncovered feces in Oberschmidt's precious little garden was left there by birds, mice, wildlife or, perhaps, his own hund.
Besides, there are innumerable nonlethal methods of keeping cats out of gardens. For instance, fences, natural repellents, motion detectors, sprinkler systems, and ultrasound all have been proven to be effective in that regard.
Since Oberschmidt is loaded with money, he certainly could have invested in any one of those strategies. Like all filthy rich slobs, he is just too cheap to have done so. Much more importantly, doing so would have deprived him of the infinite pleasure that he derives from killing cats.
Furthermore, the editors of The Saginaw News are not nearly as stupid as they pretend. Like Oberschmidt, they most certainly are aware that these nonlethal methods exist.
The fact that they fully support murdering all cats that stray into gardens and other properties proves conclusively that they hate cats. Everything else that gushes forth from their malignant maws is just self-serving nonsense.
The public should not be bamboozled into believing that the recent events in Saginaw are isolated incidents; au contraire, Michigan is one of the most dangerous places in the country for cats.
In Bay City, twenty kilometers to the north of Saginaw, the Bay County Animal Shelter is so ruthless that it even murders kittens that have homes waiting for them. (See Cat Defender post of June 15, 2010 entitled "Bay City Shelter Murders a Six-Week-Old Kitten with a Common Cold Despite Several Individuals Having Offered to Give It a Permanent Home.")
In farm country, kittens are mowed down by combine operators and left to die unattended in ditches. (See Cat Defender posts of August 20, 2009 and November 24, 2009 entitled, respectively, "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" and "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.")
As if the past few weeks have not been traumatic enough, the road ahead is destined to be every bit as trying for Tilot and Jurden. Although the preponderance of the evidence points toward Oberschmidt and SCACC as being the killers of Music Lessons and Buggsey, they never will be one-hundred per cent certain of that conclusion. They therefore will be cruelly denied closure.
Compounding the situation, neither Oberschmidt nor SCACC ever will be punished for their crimes. A civil lawsuit against them is a possibility but such an undertaking would be both expensive and time consuming with an uncertain denouement.
To top it all off, Tilot and Jurden are going to have to continue to live in the same community with the scoundrels who murdered their cats. Every chance encounter on the street, all tidbits of neighborhood gossip, and any casual perusal of the scurrilous Saginaw News will be a constant reminder of how irreparably they and their cats have been wronged.
Their lives have been turned upside down and their environment poisoned. They have a criminal beating up on them on the one side and SCACC and The Saginaw News doing likewise on the other side.
If they do not yet fully realize it, they are soon to find out firsthand just what life has been like for the past year for Andrea Evans and her family in Granite Falls, North Carolina. Last October, her next-door neighbor, Highway Patrolman Shawn C. Houston, trapped and shot her kitten, Rowdy. (See Cat Defender post of July 8, 2010 entitled "North Carolina State Trooper Who Illegally Trapped and Shot His Next-Door Neighbor's Cat, Rowdy, Is Now Crying for His Job Back.")
Since justice and closure are totally out of the question, both Tilot and Jurden would be doing themselves a huge favor if they could see their way clear to pull up stakes and leave Saginaw. Having gotten away scot-free with murdering Music Lessons and Buggsey, it is a sure bet that neither Oberschmidt nor SCACC are about to mend their evil ways.
On the contrary, with The Saginaw News fully in back of them their successes are going to serve only to embolden them to kill even more cats. It is truly a sad situation for both Tilot and Jurden, not to mention Music Lessons and Buggsey, but unless they are able to get some high-powered legal and political support their position in Saginaw is hopeless.
Hopefully, either some law firm or cat advocacy group will be willing to come to Saginaw and represent Tilot and Jurden pro bono. Oberschmidt and SCACC need to be brought to the altar of justice and made to pay in spades for their despicable crimes.
In the meantime, there is much that ordinary citizens can do in order to demonstrate their support for Tilot and Jurden. For starters, individuals who care about cats should cancel their subscriptions and pull their advertising from The Saginaw News.
Secondly, tenants who lease properties from Oberschmidt should organize a rent strike. That would be one surefire way of getting the old shekel counter's attention.
Thirdly, cat-lovers should organize demonstrations outside Oberschmidt's killing field, SCACC, City Hall, and The Saginaw News. Fourthly, they should take names and remember precisely which politicians stood with them in their hour of greatest need and which ones opposed them the next time that they go to the polls.
Through determined and concerted action, the murders of Music Lessons and Buggsey can be avenged and SCACC put out of business once and for all-time.
Photos: Jeff Schrier of The Saginaw News (Oberschmidt and "Greenpeace" protest sign), Tammie Tilot (Music Lessons), and Gus Burns of The Saginaw News ("cat killers" protest sign).