Lätzchen Is Deliberately Set on Fire and Burned Within an Inch of Her Life in Karsdorf
"Warum tun Menschen so etwas Böses, Mama?"
-- David Bach, age 8
More than half of her fur is gone and she has been left blind. Her ears have been reduced to shriveled-up stumps and she has deep flesh wounds on her tiny nose.
Her name is Lätzchen (Bib) and sometime during the last week of August she was doused with an accelerant and set on fire. When she returned to her home in tiny Karsdorf in Burgenlandkreis, Sachsen-Anhalt, her owner, Ulrike Bach, was able to get her to a veterinarian in time to save her life but the damage already had been done.
Sadly, she not only has been scarred and maimed for life but her prognosis is uncertain. (See photo above.)
Before this despicable attack, Lätzchen was a beautiful black cat with a bright future ahead of her. (See photo below.)
Since she had been AWOL for about a week, it is unclear exactly either when she was set on fire or how long it took her to find her way back home. The police supposedly are searching for the individual responsible for this horrendous crime and PETA is offering a reward of €500 but no arrests have been made so far.
"Die Täter haben vorsätzlich gehandelt," a spokesman for the local police told Bild on September 7th. (See "Ein Tierhasser hat dieses Kätzchen angezündet.") "Sie wollten, dass die Katze einen qualvollen Feuertod stirbt."
Lätzchen's mistreatment has left Bach's eight-year-old son, David, devastated and disillusioned. "Warum tun Menschen so etwas Böses, Mama?" he reportedly asked his mother. (See bottom photo of him with Lätzchen.)
"David ist vernarrt in seine Katze," Bach told Bild. "Lätzchen' kam bei uns zur Welt."
It is an often overlooked fact but cruelty to cats also is a form of child abuse. Injuring and killing children's cats is not altogether different from physically assaulting them. In fact, the psychological scars engendered by crimes of this sort may very well be longer lasting than physical ones.
For example, earlier this summer in the Vancouver suburb of New Westminster Jennifer Szoke's eight-year-old son, Nate, was left brokenhearted after an assailant killed his cat, Harley, by dunking him up to his waist in turpentine. (See Cat Defender posts of July 30, 2010 and August 30, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Harley Suffers Severe Burns to His Tongue and Mouth as Well as Lung Damage after He Is Deliberately Dunked in Turpentine" and "Hope, Prayer, and Veterinary Intervention Ultimately Prove to Be Insufficient in Order to Save Harley after He Is Deliberately Dunked in Turpentine.")
A similar traumatic sequence of events was visited upon the children of Andrea Evans of Granite Falls, North Carolina, last October when Highway Patrolman Shawn C. Houston trapped and subsequently shot their cat, 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.")
Although not nearly as prolific as either assaults by assailants using air guns and crossbows or deliberate poisonings, the torching of cats is not uncommon. For example, on June 20, 2007 a two-month-old black kitten named Adam was set ablaze by a pair of giggling teenage girls in Santa Rosa, California.
Adam, who suffered second and third degree burns over seventy-five per cent of his body, lost his tail, a large patch of fur and skin from his back, and was left with shriveled-up ears. Although apparently not burned quite as severely as Lätzchen, he also survived thanks to the excellent care that he received from Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County and the Animal Hospital of Cotati.
The multiple skin grafts that he required caused his skin to tingle, however, and he started to gnaw at it. He first was placed in an Elizabethan collar but when he did not cotton to it acupuncture was substituted and at last report the thin needles were working considerably better.
Three years later on he still is not out of the woods yet and could conceivably face a lifetime of pain and misery because of what the teens did to him. Thankfully, Tina Wright of the Animal Hospital chose to open up her heart and to provide him with a permanent home.
The girls who laughed their evil heads off at what they had done to Adam were arrested on July 6, 2007 but because they are minors the record of the judicial proceedings against them has been sealed and no additional information has been disclosed to the public. It is a foregone conclusion, however, that they were let off with nothing more severe than a tongue-lashing. (See Cat Defender posts of July 12, 2007 and June 8, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Burned Nearly to Death by Laughing Teenage Girls, Two-Month-Old Kitten Named Adam Is Fighting for His Life in Santa Rosa" and "Adam Is Persevering Throughout All the Pain Two years after Having Been Torched by Giggling Teenage Girls in Santa Rosa.")
In the Auckland suburb of Huntly, Wirimu Karena, a seventeen-year-old homeless student, and Sahn Papa, an eighteen-year-old sawmill employee, doused a trio of caged cats with glue and then set them on fire in April of 2005. In order to relive their devilry over and over again, they also videotaped their heinous exploits.
In court, Karena was given two-years in jail whereas Papa escaped with a nine-month sentence. Bereft of even the tiniest degree of either remorse or shame, both defendants repeatedly gave the bird to both court officials and their detractors throughout the proceedings. (See Cat Defender post of September 22, 2005 entitled "Two New Zealand Teens Douse Three Caged Cats with Glue and Burn Them to Death.")
The road ahead for both Lätzchen and the Bach family is going to be especially trying. Like Adam, Lätzchen is going to require skin grafts and other specialized care for an indefinite period of time.
The cost of her care is going to be astronomical. Hopefully, there is a local charity, such as the Sid Fund for Animal Crime Victims in Golden, Colorado, that will be able to assist the family in that regard. (See Cat Defender post of December 15, 2008 entitled "Vicious Attack on Sid Leads to the Creation of a Fund to Aid Four-Legged Victims of Domestic Violence.")
Actually, the entire community of Karsdorf is responsible for what happened to Lätzchen just as Raisin's death can be laid at the feet of all residents of Treasure Valley. Consequently, the community should be willing to help defray the cost of her veterinary care. (See Cat Defender post of September 18, 2010 entitled "Another Kitten, Raisin, Is Horribly Killed in Treasure Valley but It Is Unclear Whether Yobs or Incompetent Veterinarians Are to Blame for Her Death.")
In difficult cases such as this one there always is the nagging fear that the Bach family ultimately will elect to take the easy way out and kill off Lätzchen. Such an expedient must be strenuously resisted at all costs.
In light of all that she has been through, how much she means to David and, above all, out of respect for the sanctity of feline life, she must be allowed to live. Moreover, a decision to prematurely end her life would be tantamount to handing her attacker the victory that the flames and inflammable liquid have so far denied either him or her.
Photos: Steffen Schellhorn of Bild (a badly burned Lätzchen and her with David) and Bach family (Lätzchen before the attack).