Another Kitten, Raisin, Is Horribly Killed in Treasure Valley but It Is Unclear Whether Yobs or Incompetent Veterinarians Are to Blame for Her Death
"(Three teenage boys) were basically playing catch with her."
-- Eileen DeShazo of Northwest Animal Companions
Initially, it had all the trappings of just another story of horrific feline abuse to come out of Treasure Valley in Idaho. Subsequent developments have demonstrated that the presocratic philosopher Heraclitus was on the right track when he asserted that the truth is buried in a pit.
The important thing to bear in mind amidst all of the conflicting stories that are circulating is that a two-month-old black kitten named Raisin is dead. She reportedly died in her sleep at 6 p.m. on September 6th at Northwest Animal Companions (NAC) in Boise. Exactly how she met her end remains a hotly contested topic.
She reportedly was rescued from the clutches of a trio of teenage males who were tossing and kicking her around like a football near Meridian High School on September 2nd. Her savior, Danielle Stem, then brought her to NAC.
"(Three teenage boys) were basically playing catch with her," the organization's Eileen DeShazo told KLEW-TV of Lewistown on September 6th. (See "Kitten Target of Chemical Attack Opens Eyes.")
As if all of that were not terrible enough, the attending veterinarians at NAC concluded that someone also had poured either bleach or some other deadly chemical down her throat and into her eyes resulting in severe damage not only to her eyes but to her throat and esophagus as well. (See photos above and below.)
Although Raisin's prognosis was grim from the outset, she rallied in foster care by opening her eyes, sitting up on her own, and by taking nourishment from a syringe. Ultimately, however, her injuries proved to be too much for her to overcome. (See bottom photo of her in an Elizabethan collar.)
Unfortunately, neither she nor NAC have found peace in her passing. Au contraire, her death has unleashed a firestorm of criticism directed at NAC over its handling of her care.
First of all, her corpse was taken to Washington State University where a preliminary necropsy failed to detect not only any evidence of chemical poisoning but also any broken bones, abrasions, or other telltale signs of severe trauma. Instead the pathologists concluded that Raisin had succumbed to an upper respiratory infection (URI).
"The veterinarian determined this kitten was suffering from an upper respiratory infection, which is common among stray kittens and is consistent with the goopy eyes and possible ulcerations," Meridian Deputy Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea said in a press release quoted by KLEW-TV on September 8th. (See "Police Challenge Animal Group's Kitty Abuse Claims.")
Basterrechea did not stop there, however, but instead went on to accuse NAC of having ulterior motives. "It does not appear that there is any foundation for those allegations (of abuse) which have created a fear in the community, which was irresponsible and unwarranted," he added.
NAC's initial response to Basterrechea's salvos was to stand by its original story. "There is completely inaccurate information in that release," the organization's Troy Jackson told KLEW-TV in the September 8th article cited supra. "At least five doctors looked at this cat and determined it wasn't an upper respiratory infection, and that it had to be some kind of chemical or foreign substance."
Six days later on September 14th Jackson did an abrupt about-face and admitted in a long mea culpa letter posted on NAC's web site that "information about Raisin is not what was first thought." (See "Letter from NAC's Executive Director" at www.nacrescue.org.) "It is now known that the kitten, Raisin, was not subjected to chemicals but rather was suffering from critical illness at the time she was allegedly abused."
If NAC is being honest, it needs to hire new veterinarians because any vet unable to tell the difference between URI and bleach poisoning does not have any business practicing veterinary medicine. Unfortunately, malpractice and misdiagnoses are rampant in a profession that places shekel accumulation ahead of saving lives. (See Cat Defender posts of June 17, 2010 and July 2, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Veterinarian Gets Away with Almost Killing Felix but Is Nailed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for Not Paying Her Dues" and "Lexi Was By No Means the First Cat to Be Lost by Woosehill Vets Any More Than Angel Was Their Last Victim of a Botched Sterilization.")
NAC also has vociferously refuted allegations that it concocted the entire story of Raisin's abuse as a fundraising gimmick. "At no time did we solicit this funding, rather we responded to the public requests to help increase the reward fund," Jackson wrote in the letter cited supra. "Moreover, we did not collect a penny of those donations to pay for Raisin's care...the reward funding has and will continue to remain set aside in the event of a conviction."
Even if that allegation ultimately should turn out to be true, NAC hardly would be the first animal protection group to capitalize on the suffering of cats and dogs while simultaneously refusing to lift so much as a solitary finger in order to bring the perpetrators of these despicable crimes to justice. In fact, just about all of them engage in this sort of deceitful conduct.
Whenever an animal is abused these groups hit on the public for donations in order to both pay for the treatment of the victim and to supposedly bring the abuser to justice. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the former but the latter amounts to little more than beau geste because offers of rewards seldom produce positive results.
Only sound police work has been proven effective in bringing animal abusers to the altar of justice but both animal protection groups and the police have demonstrated time and time again that they have absolutely zero interest in committing the funds and manpower necessary in order to achieve that lofty objective. As a consequence, animal abuse continues to skyrocket.
Apparently having learned its lesson the hard way, NAC is now vowing to abandon the playing field entirely as far as animal cruelty cases are concerned. "Through this journey with Raisin, we have learned that in the future, the best path forward will be to remain silent, rather than involve the community," Jackson pledges in the letter cited supra.
Like a rudderless ship adrift on the high seas, NAC now has gone from one extreme to the other. It should continue to speak out against animal cruelty but it also must put its money where its mouth is and make a sincere effort to apprehend and punish animal abusers. Most importantly, in order to have any credibility it must be completely truthful and honest.
For whatever it is worth, the Meridian Police supposedly are still looking into the claim that Raisin was tossed and kicked around by the teens but, as per usual in cases of this sort, no arrests have been made so far. Even if the miscreants should be apprehended, not much in the way of retribution is going to be exacted from them. That is due first of all to the fact that they are minors and, secondly, because animal cruelty, no matter how horrific, is ludicrously treated only as a misdemeanor in backward Idaho.
The investigation is further complicated by the fact that Stem apparently has done a runner and as a consequence is nowhere to be found. Since most veterinarians categorically refuse to treat sick and injured cats unless they first receive their thirty pieces of silver up front, it is remotely conceivable that Stem, quite understandably, concocted the abuse story in order to procure badly needed veterinary assistance for Raisin. (See Cat Defender post of July 16, 2010 entitled "Tossed Out the Window of a Car Like an Empty Beer Can, Injured Chattanooga Kitten Is Left to Die after at Least Two Veterinarians Refused to Treat It.")
Of course, the area in and around Boise certainly is not any stranger to horrific attacks upon cats. On the contrary, it is one of the deadliest and most abusive places in the country for cats to live.
For example, on January 20, 2009 a two-year-old gray and white cat named Valentine from nearby Caldwell was either held down or tied down and then shot in the eye with an arrow by a fourteen-year-old boy. Air gun pellets also were found in her stomach.
Valentine was left blind and deaf on her left side as the result of this heinous attack and was forced to spend the next thirteen months at Simply Cats's shelter in Boise before anyone from cat-hating Treasure Valley would even adopt her. By way of punishment, her attacker was let off with the insultingly lenient punishment that he pen letters of apology to Simply Cats and WestVet Emergency and Specialty Care Center in Meridian.
"It makes you want to cry, it's so disturbing. It says a lot about society; it's heartbreaking," Sheri L. Schneider of Simply Cats said shortly after the attack. "This cat was used for target practice and some people think it's okay." (See Cat Defender posts of June 1, 2009 and March 5, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Blind and Deaf on Her Left Side as the Result of a Bow and Arrow Attack by a Juvenile Miscreant, Valentine Is Still Looking for a Permanent Home" and "Struck Down by an Archer and Shunned by an Uncaring Public for More Than a Year, Valentine Finally Finds a Home.")
Compounding an already bad situation, the rot in southern Idaho is by no means limited to teenage scumbags and a law enforcement establishment that turns a blind eye to crimes committed against cats. Rather, it extends to those groups that are charged with protecting them.
For example, at least sixteen cats were killed in March of 2006 when the Double D Feed and Seed store at 614 North Main Street in Meridian was pulled down on top of their tiny heads. Worst still, this totally inexcusable slaughter of defenseless cats was wholeheartedly supported by Jeff Rosenthal of the Idaho Humane Society in Boise.
"It would be nice to give people more time to catch the cats, but it's kitten season so every day that goes by there's likely to be more kittens," he said at that time in an apparent endorsement of demolition and violent death as an acceptable alternative to rescue and adoption. (See Cat Defender post of March 31, 2006 entitled "Idaho Humane Society Lends Its Support to the Demolition of a Derelict Seed Store That Claims the Lives of Dozens of Cats.")
Now, all these years later, it is precisely the same hypocritical, phony-baloney Rosenthal who, along with Basterrechea, is leading the lynch mob that is attacking NAC. (See KTVB of Denver, September 14, 2010, "Humane Society: Kitten Did Not Endure Chemical Abuse.")
Furthermore, it was only last week that the Canyon County Animal Shelter, west of Meridian, announced that beginning October 1st it no longer will be accepting either the receipt of or offering for adoption cats. Not surprisingly, it will continue to murder domestic cats upon request by their owners for $20 a pop. (See Idaho Press Tribune of Nampa, September 8, 2010 "Canyon County Animal Shelter Stops Services for Cats.")
Lost in the hullabaloo over exactly what happened to Raisin on the street and NAC's misdiagnosis of her condition is the petit fait that a kitten as sick as she was never should have been fobbed off into foster care so soon. She needed and deserved around-the-clock top-notch veterinary care and because it failed to provide it NAC is guilty of gross veterinary malpractice. If she had been properly treated and cared for there is a good chance that she still might be alive today.
Far from being an isolated case, shelters and veterinarians kill many cats each year by scrimping on their care. For example, Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter in Billings committed the same fatal mistake when a ten-year-old Snowshoe Siamese named Ally arrived in the back of one of Albertsons' delivery trucks on March 3rd of this year. In spite of having sustained an unspecified injury to her back and possibly a broken hip on top of being famished and dehydrated she was immediately placed in foster care.
Two days later on March 5th she became anemic and was discovered to have contracted an unspecified parasite. By March 9th she was dead. (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.")
The Cleveland Animal Protective League likewise signed Malli's death warrant by prematurely releasing her into foster care after she arrived from Malaysia trapped in a shipping crate in 2008. (See Cat Defender posts of March 21, 2008 and April 25, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Malli Survives a Thirty-Two-Day Voyage from Johor Bahru to Cleveland Trapped Inside a Shipping Crate" and "After Surviving a Lengthy and Hellish Confinement at Sea, Malli Dies Unexpectedly in Foster Care.")
Any hospital that merely administered first-aid to the critically injured and sick and then released them would be padlocked and sued for malpractice but when it comes to cats shelters and veterinarians repeatedly are allowed to get away with providing minimalist care. By behaving in such an uncaring and slipshod manner they are guilty of merely going through the motions of providing emergency veterinary care.
The picture that emerges from this and other recent cases of cruelty to cats to come out of southern Idaho is not a pretty one. The Boise area likes to market itself to the world as Treasure Valley but for cats it is a living Hell on earth.
It is inhabited by far too many juvenile monsters who have grown up without a scintilla of either morality or respect for animals. Moreover, they have learned their aberrant behavior from their equally worthless parents.
Local animal protection groups, with the notable exception of Simply Cats, have shown themselves to be hypocrites, liars, and frauds. The police, like their colleagues everywhere else, are at best worthless and at worst evil.
To put it succinctly, Treasure Valley is a dump that should be avoided like the plague. Sadly, the cats presently residing there do not have the option of simply pulling up stakes and leaving.
It is just too bad that this country does not have a cat-lover in the Oval Office who would be willing to dispatch the National Guard to Boise in order to protect cats. Bereft of the even the tiniest familiarity with the difference between right and wrong, the rotters who run the show in Treasure Valley are not about to mend their evil, cat-killing ways. They are, in a nutshell, a disgrace to both themselves and the remainder of the country.
There are not any heroes in this story. The residents of Treasure Valley, the police and courts, NAC and other animal rescue groups, and those veterinarians who supposedly treated Raisin all have blood on their hands.
Photos: KLEW-TV (Raisin underneath a white blanket), KOMO-TV of Seattle (Raisin with a red feeding tube), and NWCN of Seattle (Raisin in an Elizabethan collar).