Feline Traffic Fatalities Are Unworthy of Commemoration According to a Möhnesee Bureaucrat Who Orders the Destruction of a Roadside Memorial to Jule
"Das geht bei aller Tierliebe zu weit. Das finde ich auch den Angehörigen gegenüber, die wirklich einen Menschen im Straßenverkehr verloren haben, befremdlich."
-- Heinrich-Georg Trelle of Abteilung Straßenwesen des Kreises Soest
Roadside memorials in honor of individuals who have been killed in motor vehicle accidents are a common sight and have been around for a long time. Memorials for cats run down by unconscionable motorists are, on the other hand, a fairly new development.
As is the case with just about all things pertaining to cats, these memorials are providing another golden opportunity for enemies of the species to crawl out of the woodwork and vent their spleens. That is what recently occurred in the borough of Körbecke in Möhnesse where Heinrich-Georg Trelle of the Abteilung Straßenwesen (Street Maintenance) for the district of Soest in Nordrhein Westfalen ordered one such memorial to be removed and destroyed.
The memorial consisted of a wooden cross planted in the ground and bearing the name of the murdered cat, Jule. A sign tacked to a tree in back of the cross contains a photograph believed to be that of the dead cat accompanied by the inscription: "Warum ich? Ich war doch erst drei Jahre alt." There also appears to be a commemorative candle in front of the cross. (See photo above.)
Whereas roadside memorials to humans are largely tolerated throughout Deutschland so long as they do not either endanger motorists or interfere with normal street maintenance, the one in Körbecke got old Trelle's goat. "Das geht bei aller Tierliebe zu weit," he declared to the Soester-Anzeiger on September 16th. (See "Ein Kreuz für eine Katze.") "Das finde ich auch den Angehörigen gegenüber, die wirklich einen Menschen im Straßenverkehr verloren haben, befremdlich."
Those certainly are odd sentiments coming as they do from a man who professes to own a trio of cats himself. Of course, it is possible that the cats belong to either his wife or children and that he actually hates their guts.
Anyway, he gave the Bauhof des Kreises (district construction department) a week in order to dismantle and remove the memorial. So far, the local media have not contacted Jule's bereaved owner for either his or her reaction to this unfair, heartless, and capricious exercise of administrative power.
Furthermore, Trelle is so hypocritical that he praises roadside memorials erected for humans as having a greater impact upon speeders and other reckless drivers than do speed limit signs. If that is indeed true and such memorials do save human lives, the same unquestionably is true for cat memorials. In fact, any cross planted alongside a road has a reverential effect upon some religious individuals.
Likewise, they neither endanger the motoring public nor interfere with street maintenance any more than memorials erected in honor of humans. The truth of the matter is that Trelle does not consider the lives of cats to be either worth saving or commemorating.
Earlier last summer, forty-seven-year-old Andreas Schidlowski from the Oberschöneweide section of the borough of Treptow-Köpenick in Berlin erected three wooden crosses and a couple of signs in the median of a busy street near where he lives in memory of his cats, Brösel, Isis, and Tibbels.
All three recently were run down and killed by speeders while attempting to cross the street in order to visit cats belonging to members of a homeless encampment in Wuhlheide Park. One of the signs plaintively asks: "Wieviele noch?" The other one makes a request: "Als Mahnung an die Autofahrer, hier doch bitte nicht so zu rasen. Aus Rücksicht auf meine Katzen." (See photo above.)
He is now advocating for a thirty kilometer speed limit for the street. "Alle hat es am selben Ort erwischt, innerhalb von ein paar Monaten," he related to the Berliner Zeitung on July 5th. (See "Katzen-Friedhof auf dem Mittelstreifen.") "Diese verdammten Raser! Wenn ich könnte wie ich wollte, würde ich diese Straße zur Tempo-dreißig-Zone machen."
With Brösel, Isis, and Tibbels long in their graves, Schidlowski now only has Trigger left and he lives in constant fear for his safety. "Dieses Gefühl hatte ich immer, ging raus und fand dann meine toten Katzen," he told the Berliner Zeitung in the article cited supra. "Entweder an der Straße oder drüben im Park." (See photo of him and Trigger above on the right.)
Schidlowski is hopeful that the authorities will allow his memorial to his dead cats to remain in situ but the recent developments in Möhnesse cast considerable doubt on his prospects.
He is far from being alone in his quest to establish a thirty kilometer speed limit in neighborhoods where cats reside. Zum Beispiel, the Rheinischen Post of Düsseldorf reported on June 27th that an unidentified cat owner in Ingolstadt, Bayern, is advocating for the same thing in his neighborhood. (See "Dreißig Stundenkilometer für zwei Katzen.")
This follows in the wake of his longhaired cat Wuschel losing a leg after being hit by a motorist. (See photo on the right.)
His other cat, Beauty, lost an eye to a marder. (See photo on the right below.)
If enacted, such a measure undoubtedly would save some cats from being mowed down like bowling pins by motorists but it is doubtful that it would do very much for those of them that fall prey to attacks from members of the Mustelidae family. (See Cat Defender posts of July 19, 2007 and August 28, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Up to Their Old Tricks, Wildlife Officials Reintroduce Fishers to the Northeast to Prey Upon Cats and to Provide Income for Fur Traffickers" and "TNR Programs, Domestic Cats, Dogs, and Humans Imperiled by Wildlife Proponents' Use and Abuse of Coyotes and Fishers.")
In Lodi, California, feline rescuer and all-around animal lover Tina Teixeira got into hot water with her neighbors, local authorities, and the press in May of 2009 after she erected in front of her West Elm Street residence a memorial of a slightly different sort to one of her cats. Her sign read: "Hit a Cat I'll Hit Your Kid." (See photo of her with sign further down the page.)
Her emotional response came after a speeding motorist veered into a bike lane in order to run down and kill one of her cats. Two more of her cats also were struck by motorists along about the same time.
"People fly down this street and they don't care. You don't want me to kill your kids, don't kill mine," she told the News-Sentinel of Lodi on May 23, 2009. (See "Lodi Resident Puts Up Sign to Tell Drivers to Pay Attention.") "I don't come to your neighborhood and do this stuff. It's Lodi for God's sake! It's not Stockton. It's not East Los Angeles."
She has a good point in that motorists doing sixty-five miles per per regularly cruise through her neighborhood where the posted speed limit is only thirty-five miles per hour. Besides killing cats, they also are endangering the lives of children who attend classes at a nearby school.
The public furor engendered by her hastily chosen words prompted Teixeira to take down the sign and replace it with one that read: "I Watch Out for Your Kids, so Please Watch Out for Mine." She later erected a third sign which read: "God Have Mercy on Your Souls."
While local residents and the capitalist media were quick to condemn Teixeira, none of them had the decency to utter so much as a syllable of condolence over the loss of her beloved cat. "I don't mean to offend anyone, but I don't see anyone apologizing for the loss of my animal," she added in the interview with the News-Sentinel.
More to the point, if the thoroughly worthless, criminal, and evil police would do what they are getting paid to do and enforce the laws of the road the lives of innumerable cats and other animals could be spared. The same rationale is applicable to a fair share of the more than five-thousand pedestrians who are killed annually by American motorists.
It is axiomatic that if the authorities are not going to enforce the laws criminals are going to run roughshod over everyone and everything. Nevertheless, the knee-jerk response from most Lodi residents was to condemn Teixeira for attempting to protect her cats.
"I can't just let her (my cat) die in vain for nothing," she told KXTV-News 10 of Sacramento on May 25, 2009. (See "Lodi Woman: 'Hit a Cat I'll Hit Your Kid'.") "Someone needs to stand up to these people."
The one known positive development in this regard occurred in early 2007 when Bobette Moore and Gary Caufield were able to convince the authorities in Milford, Connecticut, to erect a cat crossing sign on Erna Avenue. (See photo of them with their sign below.)
"It's a wonderful law. I'm glad they realized there was a need and did what they could to help," local Animal Control officer Pat Liptak said on that historic occasion. "There are probably twenty other places in the city where we could use the signs. Cats are getting killed all the time but Erna Avenue was one of the worst spots."
In stark contrast to the ailurophobic policies and pronouncements of Trelle in Möhnesse, Milford's director of Public Works, Bruce Kolwicz, not only helped to construct the cat crossing sign but had it erected as well. "It appears to have made a big difference," he said at that time. "It's not really enforceable, but it's working and that's what really matters." (See Cat Defender post of January 26, 2007 entitled "Cat Activists Succeed in Getting Connecticut Town to Erect a Cat Crossing Sign.")
Cat crossing signs also are being tried on the remote Japanese island of Iriomote in a last-ditch effort to save the imperiled Iriomote Wildcat. (See bottom photo.)
It is not known, however, if they are having any measurable impact. (See Cat Defender post of November 27, 2006 entitled "After Surviving on Its Own for at Least Two Million Years, Rare Japanese Wildcat Faces Toughest Battle Yet.")
Whereas cat crossing signs and roadside memorials are steps in the right direction, motorists who refuse to yield to cats and other animals should be ticketed and arrested. First of all, the animals have a right to live and, secondly, their safety is far more important than the vile shekel chasing and pleasure-seeking pursuits of kamikaze motorists.
It additionally could be argued with some force that cats are more deserving of roadside memorials than humans due simply to the fact that they are innocent and unwitting victims of man's incurable love of violence. People, on the other hand, knowingly choose to travel the roads even though they fully realize the dangers involved in doing so.
Through a liberal indulgence in bigotry, greed, and violence, man demonstrates time and time again that he is by far the most contemptible beast on the planet. Moreover, to intentionally destroy the natural world just so that he can race around in his cars displays a disturbing lack of both intellect as well as appreciation for that which is both beautiful and eternal.
More generally speaking, something desperately needs to be done about the anarchy that exists on roads all over the world. Most notably, speed restrictions and stop lights are routinely ignored with impunity.
On top of that general disregard for the laws of the road, motorists eat, booze, dope, text, and gas on the telephone while driving. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to see drivers reading paperbacks, shaving, combing their manes, and putting on makeup while flying down the road.
Others have been spotted pruning their toenails and adjusting their tank tops. As things now stand, the streets and roads are a no man's land for both animals and pedestrians.
Cars and trucks keep getting larger when they should be going in the opposite direction and this development not only wastes fuel but makes the roads even more precarious. Additionally, auto emissions have replaced factory pollution as arguably the greatest threat to public health.
If individuals selfishly insist upon clinging to the independence provided by a motor vehicle, they should be willing to accept smaller, energy efficient, and cleaner-running models. Above all, they should be willing to obey the rules of the road.
If not, the automobile should be outlawed and everyone forced to either walk or take public transportation. From the way things now appear, the world is going to reach that critical juncture anyway just as soon as it either finally runs out of petrol or the air becomes too dirty to any longer support life of any sort.
Photos: Soester-Anzeiger (memorial to Jule), Sven Meissner of the Berliner Zeitung (memorial to Brösel, Isis, and Tibbels as well as Schidlowski and Trigger), Rheinischen Post (Wuschel and Beauty), KXTV-News 10 (Teixeira with sign), Connecticut Post (Moore and Caufield with cat crossing sign), and Kanpira (cat crossing sign on Iriomote).