Tavia's Desperate Pleas for Help Fall Upon the Deaf Ears of the Evangelical Who Abandoned Her and the Heartless Officials and Citizens of Kissimmee
Q. Do you feel responsible for leaving Tavia all alone in an unheated house for two months and thus causing her horrible death?
A. "No, I don't. To be honest with you, I feel it's the responsibility of a lot of individuals who didn't help us."
-- Prophetess Royal Poinciana Sprewell
Tavia's last two months on this earth were nothing short of pure hell. Left all alone in an unheated house in Kissimmee, Florida, the nine-year-old white Persian may nor may not even have had an adequate supply of food and water. (See photo above of her begging at a glass door for the help that never arrived.)
When Osceola County Animal Control (OCAC) from nearby St. Cloud belatedly stopped procrastinating and on December 6th procured a court order to enter the deserted dwelling, believed to be located on Peppermill Circle, it was much too late. Tavia was dead and a necropsy later attributed her death to an unexplained combination of hepatitis and kidney failure. (See photo below of the house.)
There also is more than ample evidence to confirm that she was the victim of long-term neglect. For example, instead of giving her a daily grooming that all longhaired cats require, her owner had been sedating her and then shaving away the tangled fur from around her neck. Barbiturates never should be given to a cat except when surgery is required and the administration of these deadly drugs very well could have irrevocably damaged both her delicate liver and kidneys.
Tavia also had lesions on her mouth which is one indication that she may have been suffering from an inflammatory skin disorder known as Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex (EGC). Of the three known varieties of EGC, she most likely had either a rodent ulcer or Eosinophilic Granuloma, both of which manifest themselves on the mouths of cats.
The gallery of rogue individuals and groups responsible for Tavia's horrific suffering and untimely death constitutes a Who's Who of cat abusers, derelict humane organizations, and other assorted irresponsible and uncaring public officials as well as private citizens. If there were an ounce of justice in this miserable world all of them would be spending the holidays in jail as opposed to merrily continuing on with their destructive, shameful lives.
At the center of this outrageous crime is a thirty-seven-year-old black evangelist from Milwaukee who passes herself off to the faithful as Prophetess Royal Poinciana Sprewell. A visit to her web site, www.royalpoincianaministry.com, exposes the shadowy world of black evangelicalism to be every bit as egomaniacal and preoccupied with the accumulation of wealth as their white counterparts. Sprewell even has the audacity to promote herself as the "number one prophetess called to the nations for this generation."
She furthermore claims to be the founder of both Anointed Sabbath Ministries and the United Christian Kingdom Association. Apparently her ministry is headquartered at 7500 Futures Drive in Orlando although she collects her loot at 2641 Lookout Lane in Kissimmee. (See photo of her below.)
She was ordained on February 22, 2004 by Pastors Leon Coleman and John West of the House of Deliverance in Milwaukee. Having forsaken the straight and narrow, West was indicted in April of this year for heading a ten-person heroin distribution ring that included his twenty-eight-year-old son, Jonathan. (See Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 20, 2010, "Former Pastor Faces Drug-Dealing Charge.")
Although they are not nearly as well-known as white evangelicals who are distinguished not only by their larceny and voracious sexual appetites but also by their desire to kill off all the animals and to destroy the earth so as to hasten the return of Jesus, black evangelicals never have been known for their love of cats either. (See Cat Defender posts of July 30, 2009 and February 12, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Ferals Living at a Baltimore Church Find Out the Hard Way That Hatred of Cats Is Every Bit as Christian as Unleavened Bread and Cheap Wine" and "God-Fearing Baptists at Eastern University Kill Off Their Feral Cats on the Sly while Students Are Away on Christmas Break.")
To be objective about it, the Catholics historically have been the absolute worst when it comes to defaming and killing cats. That is in addition to sexually molesting children and gunning down abortionists.
The Mormons are another sleazy group of rotters not only because they maintain harems comprised of twelve- and thirteen-year-old girls but also due to the mistreatment and abuse of cats by wildlife biologists at Brigham Young University. (See The Salt Lake Tribune, August 9, 2010, "BYU Students Could Track Feral Cats on Campus.")
The more closely that its theological underpinnings, institutions, and the behavior of its adherents are scrutinized the more repulsive Christianity reveals itself to be. "I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it," Abraham Lincoln once observed and that always should be borne in mind when evaluating all religions, creeds, and public policies.
In addition to whatever else she may be, Sprewell certainly is a busy individual. For example, she preaches at 1 p.m. Sundays on the Internet radio station www.rejoice1140.com. Additionally, she is pursuing both a degree in theology as well as an undergraduate degree with a double major in nursing and communications.
Her ministry also claims to be involved in, inter alia, a monthly food pantry, food drives, missionary work, teen mentoring, clothing drives, prison outreach, and hospital visitations. Her future plans calls for teen pregnancy workshops, adult literacy classes, and humanitarian work in the Third World.
To cap it all off, she is scheduled to address believers at a gathering called "Queens of the Kingdom Conference" to be held May 13th-15th at the Doubletree Hotel in Orlando. Tickets range from $75 to $200 with rack rates starting at $89.
With all of that on her plate, it is not surprising that she went broke and could not afford either the rent or the electricity. The details are shrouded in secrecy but as best it can be determined she was being sued for non-payment and skipped out leaving Tavia to fend for herself.
She, however, retained the keys to the house and claims that she stopped by once every three days in order to leave food and water for Tavia. Once they entered the house officials from the OCAC did find unspecified amounts of both.
Since OCAC posted a notice on the door some time before entering it has been suggested that Sprewell saw the notice and then dropped off some food and water after allowing Tavia to starve for weeks. As things now stand, the public only has her word that Tavia was being fed every three days during the last two months of her life.
Most shocking of all, when asked by News-13 of Orlando on December 8th if she felt responsible for killing Tavia Sprewell was every bit as remorseless as she is irresponsible. "No, I don't," she shot back. (See "Owner of Cat Left to Die in Kissimmee Home Tells Her Side of the Story.") "To be honest with you, I feel it's the responsibility of a lot of individuals who didn't help us."
Although totally reprehensible, such sentiments are by no means unique to Sprewell. In fact, they are heard every day all across America from the Oval Office and Wall Street on the one hand to Main Street and Skid Row on the other hand.
Responsibility for oneself, one's family, the animals, Mother Earth, and the republic as a whole is a thing of the past in twenty-first century America. This society has devolved into a dog-eat-dog version of the old television game show Supermarket Sweep where the objective is transform this once bountiful country into a wasteland that is every bit as barren as Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard. Very few Americans have so much as an ounce of decency left in their bones.
Despite her unwillingness to accept responsibility for killing Tavia, Sprewell nevertheless would have the world to believe that she cared deeply about her. "I loved Tavia," she declared in a video that accompanies the News-13 article cited supra. (See "Dead Cat's Owner Speaks.") "She was dear to our family."
Almost in the same breath she turns around and claims that Tavia, in spite of the results of the necropsy, died of loneliness. "Because we gave her so much love and affection, and by us being away for basically a two-month period, she felt a lack of affection," she told News-13 in the article cited supra.
It is not known how long Tavia was with Sprewell or from where she was acquired. Considering Sprewell's niggardliness, it is unlikely that she transported her from Milwaukee to Kissimmee and therefore she must have been procured locally and possibly even from OCAC.
The only thing positive that can be said about her behavior is that if she had handed over Tavia to a shelter she would have been killed on the spot. Although her last days were painful, at least she lived an additional two months.
Furthermore, if she had surrendered Tavia no one would have uttered so much as a syllable against her. Most citizens of this society have become so morally numb that the senseless slaughter of tens of millions of cats each year by shelters, Animal Control, PETA, wildlife biologists, and birders does not faze them at all.
The next villain is Sprewell's neighbor, Santiago Sandoval, who by his own admission knew of Tavia's plight for at least a month before he informed OCAC. "The first time he (sic) didn't scream," he told News-13 on December 7th. (See "Cat Dies after Being Abandoned in Empty Kissimmee House.") "But the second time he (sic) said 'meow,' and the third time, he (sic) started to panic like he (sic) was asking for food or water."
Even after he got up the gumption to contact OCAC Sandoval was ordered not to feed her. "There was nothing I can do," he added. "I asked him 'can we give him (sic) food, can we give him (sic) water?' He says 'no, we can't'."
The him that Sandoval is referring to is presumably OCAC top dog Lee Radevaugh who through his dereliction of duty has not only proven beyond a shadow of doubt that he has no business dealing with animals under any circumstances but, more importantly, that he is a sorry excuse for a human being as well. For starters, as Tavia was wasting away he deliberately chose to hide behind what only can be described as bureaucratic self-serving silliness.
"Our hands are tied in that there has to be probable cause to ask a judge for a warrant to go into a private dwelling or business," he told News-13 on December 7th. Quite obviously he does not consider saving the life of a dying cat to constitute probable cause.
Since he publicly has endorsed Sprewell's sottise that a cat can die from loneliness, he likewise is defending his dereliction of duty on grounds of financial hardship. "We're in a very economic distressed time and our resources are limited," he bellyached. "We really limit our responses to truly emergency situations (such as) injured animals, bite cases and car accidents."
He is such a despicable rotter that it is unlikely that he would give a dehydrated cat so much as a drop of water if he owned all of Niagara Falls! He and his inhumane attitude are symptomatic of all that is wrong with Animal Control and why their extermination factories must be outlawed and shuttered.
At least in Sandoval's case his eyewitness testimony makes a liar out of Sprewell. If she was feeding Tavia every three days as she claims she certainly would have known that she was suffering terribly and near death. Also, the photograph that he took of Tavia will ensure that she is not easily forgotten.
Nevertheless, the callous and irresponsible behavior exhibited by Sandoval, Radevaugh, and others are in stark contrast to the prompt emergency care that three abandoned cats and a trio of Pekingese received recently when they were left without either food or water in a three-room apartment in Fuchsbichl near Villach in the southern Austrian state of Kärnten. (See photo below of one of the dogs.)
After their owner had hightailed it out of town in the middle of the night in order to return to Slovenia, a neighbor notified the police one week later. The services of a locksmith were secured and all six animals were rescued by Tierrettung Schober of Kärnten.
"Drinnen bot sich uns ein Bild des Schreckens!" Nina Wimmer of Tierrettung Schober told Krone of Wien on December 13th. (See "Herzlose Frau ließ Hunde und Katzen in Wohnung zurück.") "Die Räume waren voller Kot, die Tiere mussten in ihrer Not den eigenen Urin trinken, un nicht zu verdursten."
Thanks to the prompt action taken by the neighbor and Tierrettung Schober's intervention, the cats and dogs will, unlike Tavia, receive a second chance at life. "Wir päppeln die armen Viecherln jetzt wieder auf," Wimmer vowed.
Even rural Baldwin, Kentucky, is far more progressive in its treatment of animals than Kissimmee. For example, when homeless cat caretaker Jan Hendricks of Boonesborough spotted an undetermined number of cats, forty dogs, four sheep, and four horses abandoned at a property on Whitlock Road on August 1st she immediately procured help for them. (See bottom photo.)
The cats and dogs, many of whom were suffering from eye and respiratory difficulties, were being held captive in a horse trailer as the thermometer outside soared to 100° F. Worst still, none of the animals had anywhere near an adequate supply of either water or food.
Although under Kentucky law there is a three-day waiting period before abandoned animals can be seized under a court order, the Humane Society's Animal League for Life of Madison County was allowed to feed and water them. Later, the animals' owners, Robert and Lisa Richburg, surrendered them to the Madison County Animal Shelter.
Unfortunately, it has not been possible to determine what later became of them. (See The Richmond Register, August 3rd, August 4th, and August 11th, respectively, "Police Search for Owners of Hungry, Unattended Animals," "County Works with Animal Owner to Ensure Better Living Conditions," and "Looking for a Happy Ending.")
The tragic events in Villach and Baldwin demonstrate conclusively that caring humane groups, such as Tierrettung Schober, and decent human beings, such as Hendricks, do not stand idly by concocting lame excuses while animals are dying. Au contraire, they act promptly and decisively.
The Kissimmee Police Department and the Osceola County Sheriff's Office also have blood on their hands for their failure to act. Unidentified deputies later had the temerity to tell News-13 in the December 7th article cited supra that they would arrest anyone caught breaking into a house in order to save the life of a cat.
If a human's life were in danger there can be little doubt that the authorities would not hesitate to enter a locked dwelling and the same principle should be applied to cats and other animals in need. Much more to the point, the police never have been troubled by legal niceties and consider themselves to be above the law.
For example, when looking for either fugitives or stolen property it is the modus operandi of most law enforcement officers to first break into buildings in order to substantiate their suspicions. They then later go to a judge in order to get a warrant so as to legalize their initial illegal search.
Besides being habitual criminals and inveterate liars, the police use the law as a dodge in order to save them from investigating all sorts of crimes. Furthermore, their indolence can be partially explained by the fact that they often are either too busy committing crimes of their own or running personal errands, such as shopping, doing their laundry, and getting their hair cut, in order to be bothered with protecting both animals and the public.
The owner of the house, who never has been publicly identified, also is guilty of gross negligence. Landlords who foreclose on homeowners and evict tenants are nevertheless responsible for whatever animals they leave behind.
During the current economic downturn both homeowners and renters alike have forsaken tens of thousands of animals allegedly because they were unable to care for them. Such claims are disingenuous because if every American were given a million dollars most of them nevertheless would turn up the very next day at either the welfare office or their congressman's headquarters in order to plead penury.
Since they never can get enough, there is not much of a correlation between a lack of money and animal abandonment. (See Cat Defender post of February 5, 2008 entitled "When Bankers Become Crooks and Homeowners Get Greedy, Cats and Other Animals Pay the Ultimate Price.")
Humane organizations in Kissimmee, Orlando, and nearby areas also are to blame for allowing OCAC to get away with its crimes. Some group, such as the SPCA of Central Florida in Orlando, should have intervened on Tavia's behalf.
The cosmetic necropsy ordered by Niki Whisler of Osceola County Public Safety raises more questions than it answers. (See News-13, December 10, 2010, "Report: Cat Died of Kidney Failure, Hepatitis.")
In particular, the types, extent, and likely causes of Tavia's fatal liver and kidney troubles should be made public. The inventory taken of her stomach also should be revealed.
In particular, any telltale signs of malnutrition, dehydration, and drug abuse should be disclosed. Simply stating that Tavia died of kidney and liver problems is woefully inadequate and smells of a cover-up.
An independent necropsy conducted by a qualified pathology department should be commissioned, that is if Tavia's remains have not already been burned. Considering Sprewell's callousness and cheapness it is doubtful that she provided her with so much as a Christian burial.
Finally, OCAC has closed its investigation and elected not to charge Sprewell with animal cruelty. That inexcusable decision is contrary to the wishes of eighty-three per cent of those who responded to an online poll conducted by News-13.
There will not be either any presents under the tree or yuletide treats for Tavia this holiday season. Struck down in the prime of life, she will not be around to usher in 2011 either.
Although her tragic death is truly heartbreaking, the sadder news is that she is only one of countless cats who suffer similar fates each day. This country is chock-full of Sprewells, Radevaughs, Sandovals, and others who operate beyond the reach of all compassion, morality, and the law. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done about this deplorable situation due to the intransigence of the citizenry.
Photos: Sandoval (Tavia), News-13 (house and Sprewell), Krone (abandoned dog), and Bill Robinson of The Richmond Register (abandoned animals in Baldwin).