Disabled Former Casino Worker Is Sent to Jail for Shoplifting Food in Order to Feed Her Twelve Cats
|Hannelore Schmedes Holds a Photograph of One of Her Cats|
"Ich habe noch nie etwas gestohlen. Aber jetzt wusste ich mir keinen anderen Rat."
-- Hannelore Schmedes
Hannelore Schmedes and her twelve cats have been put through the wringer and there are, unfortunately, more difficult days ahead for them.
Things were going reasonably well for for the now fifty-five-year-old resident of the Mahlum section of Bockenem in Niedersachsen, approximately thirty kilometers southeast of Hannover, until she came down with tuberculosis and rheumatism in 1997. It is a good bet that the tobacco-polluted air that she was forced to breathe inside the casino where she worked in neighboring Hildesheim as well as the long hours that she was forced to spend on her feet, if indeed that was the case, contributed mightily to her sudden deterioration in health.
Reduced to being unable to get around except with the aid of a walker, she was forced into early retirement. Although she receives a pension totaling €380 per month plus a disability check from the state for €540, it never was quite enough.
One thing led to another and soon she had fallen behind in the rent and her landlord had instigated eviction proceedings against her. Compounding an already difficult situation, she had twelve cats to feed and medicate.
As a result, she took to shoplifting cat food from a supermarket in Hildesheim. New to a life of crime, she lacked the savoir-faire needed in order to be successful in her new livelihood and, not surprisingly, she was caught by a store detective who handed her over to the police.
"Ich habe noch nie etwas gestohlen," she vowed to Bild of Berlin on February 1st. (See "Arme Rentnerin geht für Katzen in den Knast.") "Aber jetzt wusste ich mir keinen anderen Rat."
The prosecuting attorney was not swayed either by that or the fact that the merchandise she had pilfered was valued at a minuscule €100. As a result, she was fined €600.
"Ich habe €250 abgestottert, versuch den Schaden wieder gut zu machen," she told Bild. "Aber mehr Geld hatte ich nicht."
She therefore was remanded to Justizvollzuganstalt für Frauen in Hildesheim fur thirty-five days, which she completed between October 23rd and November 26th of last year. During her incarceration, Tierschutz Hildesheim und Umgebung took possession of either part or all of her twelve cats and two dogs.
Two of her cats and one of the dogs were, with her consent, placed in new homes. "Nach der Haft bekommen Sie ihre Tiere zurück," the bailiff promised her in regard to the remaining ten cats and one dog. Little did she realize then that getting them back would not be quite that simple.
After completing her sentence, she was able to secure a new apartment in Mahlum but her landlord will allow her to keep only five cats and an eleven-year-old Schäferhund named Sally. The fate of the other cats has not been disclosed.
|Two of Schmedes' Cats, Fienchen and Phil|
Meanwhile, Tierschutz Hildesheim is demanding €400 from her for boarding her animals while she was a guest of the county. "Wir müssen leider in diesem Fall auf unser Geld bestehen," the organization's Sabine Oelschläger told Bild in the article cited supra.
That is money Schmedes insists that she does not have at the moment. "Ich kann das Geld nur in €50 Raten abzahlen," she told Bild. "Aber damit ist das Tierheim nicht einverstanden."
In June of last year, a seventy-five-year-old unidentified motorist in Maastricht was pulled over by the police for not wearing a seat belt. As they approached, she was observed discarding bags that later were found to contain cocaine and cannabis.
She explained to the police that she was forced into peddling drugs in order to feed the dozens of cats that she keeps at home. Fortunately for her, the police let her off with a warning after she promised to find some other way to feed her cats. (See D-News of Amsterdam, June 30, 2010, "Alte Dame füttert ihre Katzen als Drogenkurierin durch.")
She did not necessarily receive any preferential treatment in that the leniency shown her was in keeping with Holland's liberal drug laws. For example, cannabis is sold legally in coffee shops.
The precise reasons why both of these women were forced into breaking the law are unknown, but it is likely that the prohibitive cost of spay and neuter operations was to blame. After all, water is free and feeding one or two cats can be easily managed even for those on fixed incomes. There are additionally organizations in Deutschland, such as Tiertafel, that dispense free cat and dog food.
Feeding dozens of cats is an altogether different matter. Plus, vaccinations and veterinary emergencies are enough to send even a gainfully employed person to the poorhouse.
Unfortunate situations such as these easily could be avoided if municipalities offered free sterilizations. Not only would such a worthwhile public service save the lives of millions of homeless cats and dogs each year but individuals who care deeply about cats would not feel compelled to care for more of them than they are financially able to feed, medicate, and sterilize.
If they merely did nothing, Animal Control and shelters would round up and kill all homeless cats. Compassionate individuals who take in homeless cats therefore are worthy of society's support but instead all they customarily receive from the authorities is abuse and repression.
Like just about everything pertaining to animals, sterilizing cats is a racket. For example, veterinarians in the United States and Canada often charge up to $300 for these simple, routine procedures.
In addition to unchecked greed, the cost is so high because veterinarians insist upon administering superfluous vaccinations, testing for various diseases, and implanting cancer-causing microchips. (See Cat Defender post of November 6, 2010 entitled "Bulkin Contracts Cancer from an Implanted Microchip and Now It Is Time for Digital Angel and Merck to Answer for Their Crimes in a Court of Law.")
The so-called low-cost spay and neuter services offered by humane societies and the SPCAs are not much of an improvement in that, on the average, they charge $60 in order to spay a female and $50 to neuter a tom. Like regular veterinarians, they also insist upon administering non-essential vaccinations as a means of jacking up the price. Many of them even add surcharges for painkillers and the disposal of the excised genitalia.
Additionally, they are nosey-Parkers who insist upon cat owners providing them with all sorts of personal data. In other words, anyone unable to pay the exorbitant prices demanded by veterinarians must be willing to dance to whatever tune the shelters call.
The only known organization operating in the United States and Canada that is making a real difference is PetSmart Charities of Phoenix. For instance, back in January it gave a grant of $39,950 to the SPCA of Wake County for the sterilization of cats and dogs living in downtown and southeast Raleigh.
"A good portion of these free-roaming cats were once owned, or they are one generation removed from house pets," the organization's Susana Della Maddalena earlier told USA Today on May 6, 2008. (See "Compassion Often Eludes Feral Cats; Groups Out to Save Them.") "We don't think it's fair to exclude them from help."
Even with that much free moola at its disposal, the SPCA of Wake County was not about to be denied its cut of the action and therefore charged $5 for each operation. (See News and Observer, January 23, 2011, "Grant Allows Low-Cost Neutering.")
If free sterilizations were available upon demand there no longer would be any need for Animal Control Officers, death camps that masquerade as shelters, and the manufacturers of sodium pentobarbital and gas chambers. The killing sprees of other merchants of death, such as private exterminators, also could be ended.
The politicians could solve this problem almost overnight if it were not for the fact that they do the bidding of the animal killers. That makes their and the capitalist media's denunciations of homeless cats and their caretakers all the more hypocritical.
Adding insult to injury, numerous municipalities have criminalized the feeding of homeless cats and even attempted to shutter cat sanctuaries. (See Cat Defender posts of February 26, 2007 and November 19, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Charged with Feeding a Feral Cat Named Fluffy, Retired Ohio English Teacher Beats the Rap" and "Florida Ailurophobes and Politicians Are Attempting to Kill Two-Hundred Felines by Closing a Sanctuary.")
The anti-cat fervor even has spread to apartment complexes. Last summer, for example, eviction proceedings were instigated against an eighty-one-year-old retired tutor in Temple Terrace, Florida, because she had the temerity to show compassion for homeless cats. (See Cat Defender post of August 2, 2010 entitled "Old, Poor, and Sickly Jeanne Ambler Is Facing Eviction for Feeding a Trio of Hungry Cats.")
Photos: Bild (Schmedes, Fienchen and Phil) and Tierschutz Hildesheim (Oelschläger).