Rogue TNR Practitioner and Three Unscrupulous Veterinarians Kill at Least Sixty-Two Cats with the Complicity of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals
"He (Anthony) was sweet, mellow and very laid back. Nothing bothered him. I called him the Rastafarian cat. One of my other cats, Parker, keeps looking for him and crying. Our hearts are broken."
-- Marie Nasta
Serial cat killers come in as many guises as the protagonist in Herman Melville's The Confidence Man and employ an equal number of ruses. For Paul Zhang, the public facade that he hid behind in order to mask his outrageous atrocities was that of a dedicated practitioner of TNR. (See photo of him above on the right.)
His modus operandi, although hardly novel, was every bit as mundane as it was diabolical. He borrowed traps from the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals and other unidentified groups, trapped at least sixty-two cats from colonies that he claims to have managed in Ridgewood, Queens, and Bushwick, Brooklyn, and then took them to at least three money-hungry, totally unscrupulous veterinarians in Queens who were only too happy to do his killing for him in return for, quite naturally, a hefty fee.
Since his recent unmasking, the forty-one-year-old Zhang has made more pirouettes around the truth than a dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet does during a season of performances. If each verbal revolution has proven anything, it is that he is not only a ruthless killer but an inveterate liar to boot.
For whatever it is worth, he claims to have been feeding and sterilizing cats at nine colonies in Ridgewood and Bushwick for the "past few years" but out of the blue one day decided to become their executioner because he could no longer go on feeding them. Other than indicating that he has relocated from Queens to Manhattan, Zhang has not provided any clue as to why he no longer was able to continue caring for the cats.
Since his claim to have been a humane practitioner of TNR never has been independently verified, it is conceivable that he has been trapping and killing cats all along. If that is true, the number of cats that he has had killed could be astronomical because he boldly claims to have assisted the Mayor's Alliance in trapping thousands of them. Besides, there are other nefarious ways in which to kill cats other than taking them to a veterinarian.
In categorically rejecting all humane alternatives, Zhang has sought sanctuary in the often repeated lie that he did not want to see the cats suffer. "I can't bear the thought of my animals getting out or being abandoned," he told The Gothamist on December 13th. (See "Sixty-Two Cats and Counting: Confessions of a Serial Cat Killer.") "So I did the best thing I can consider for them to never experience suffering. So I put them all down."
Although morally abhorrent and patently dishonest, such sophistry has many adherents. In particular, countless cat and dog owners scarcely think twice about killing off their companions once they become either elderly or incontinent.
In doing so they wallow in the same lies as Zhang when in reality they simply are too cheap to provide them with proper veterinary care and too lazy to clean up after them. (See Cat Defender posts of October 27, 2008 and March 12, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Loved and Admired All over the World, Feline Heroine Scarlett Is Killed Off by Her Owner after She Becomes Ill" and "Too Cheap and Lazy to Care for Him During His Final Days, Betty Currie Has Socks Killed Off and His Corpse Burned.")
That also is the gospel that disreputable PETA trumpets from the rooftops. Although the organization uncharacteristically has not publicly commented on Zhang's crimes, it surely must be thrilled to its rotten back teeth to have found such an ardent acolyte. (See Cat Defender posts of October 7, 2011, January 29, 2007, and February 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "PETA Traps and Kills a Cat and Then Shamelessly Goes Online in Order to Brag about Its Criminal and Foul Deed," "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in North Carolina Courtroom," and "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs.")
There are numerous rebuttals to such a morally repugnant and dishonest philosophy but none perhaps more pertinent than to point out that a cat is not a human. Whereas individuals can freely choose to have their lives extinguished by Dignitas and the likes of Jack Kevorkian, no cats ever have made such requests and inveterate cat-haters like Zhang and PETA do not have any right making them for them.
Even if cats were capable of talking, like Saki's fictional Tobermory, it is highly unlikely that any of them would freely choose to take the Roman way out of this vale of tears. In perhaps no species is the will to live any stronger than in cats. After all, it is not without reason that they are said to have nine lives.
As far as the argument about suffering is concerned, it is first of all patently untrue that homeless cats suffer far more than domesticated ones. Their lives sometimes are marred by pain and deprivations but they are free and lead fuller, more vibrant existences than do their house-bound cousins who often only grow fat and lazy.
Moreover, indoor cats are subject to a variety of ailments and toxins that do not affect those that live exclusively outdoors. (See Cat Defender posts of August 22, 2007 and October 19, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Indoor Cats Are Dying from Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Various Toxins in the Home" and "Smokers Are Killing Their Cats, Dogs, Birds, and Infants by Continuing to Light Up in Their Presence.")
Much more poignantly, all life involves a far amount of suffering and that is true for cats as well as humans. It is impossible to have one without the other. The fact that cretins like Zhang and PETA exult in committing mass exterminations exposes their crocodile tears about suffering to be nothing but a self-serving fabrication.
It additionally is the very epitome of anthropomorphism run amuck for them to maintain that the lives of homeless cats do not have any value. "Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it," Henry David Thoreau once said. That is especially the case where the animals and Mother Earth are concerned but when it comes to cats some individuals and groups have gotten it into their desiccated gourds that they have a God-given right to kill them with impunity.
Before arriving at his abominable decision to have the cats liquidated, Zhang claims first to have sought out the assistance of multiple animal welfare organizations to take over their care but none would give him so much as the time of day. Ordinarily that is par for the course in that rescue groups, like social workers and theologians, blow long and hard about how much they love cats but whenever they actually are presented with live, breathing animals in need they suddenly become as deaf as adders and run for cover.
In Zhang's case, however, his claim is contradicted not only by two veterinarians but, much more importantly, his own words and deeds. In particular, he admits categorically refusing to hand over the cats to the city's Animal Care and Control (ACC), not out of a legitimate fear that they would be killed, but rather just the opposite.
"Because I also think Animal Care and Control does shit adoptions," he told The Gothamist in the article cited supra. "I'm sorry, I'm a little prejudiced but I've seen the people that come in to adopt there and I would never let my cats go with them."
On that point Zhang's fears were groundless because ACC either cannot or will not put up homeless cats for adoption. "There's no point in a feral cat going into Animal Care and Control because they can't adopt them out," Jane Hoffman of the Mayor's Alliance told The Gothamist on December 15th. (See "Don't Let Crazies Kill Kittens, Get Trap-Neuter-Release Certified.")
Since he undoubtedly was as well aware of that as everyone else, his choice to pay veterinarians in order to kill off the cats must have been undertaken solely in order to avoid detection.
The case against Zhang comes into sharper focus once the testimony of veterinarians who cooperated with him in his diabolical scheme is examined. In particular, an unidentified practitioner claims to have wanted to adopt out one of his cats but he would not permit it.
"I wanted to help him put it up for adoption since it was healthy and didn't show any aggression," the veterinarian told The Gothamist in the December 13th article cited supra. "It was against our ethics to put that to sleep, I wouldn't do it."
It is nice to know that the veterinarian belatedly located either his or her moral compass even if it was only after, according to Zhang, killing twenty-six other cats for him. The veterinarian's reference to the cat as "that" additionally demonstrates either an inability or an unwillingness to recognize a difference between animate and inanimate objects.
The only veterinary clinic so far to be publicly identified as willingly participating in Zhang's mass slaughter is Antelyes Animal Hospital at 6209 Fresh Pond Road in Middle Village, Queens. It was opened in 1985 by Patricia Squillace who was joined in practice in 1994 by Satomi Ueda.
"At Antelyes Animal Hospital, we know how much your pet means to you. After all, they are part of the family. And, because they're part of the family, your pets deserve the best medical care available," Squillace and Ueda proclaim on their web site. "Whether it's an emergency or regular preventative treatment, Antelyes Animal Hospital is Middle Village's best choice for quality veterinary services." (See photo above that appears on the surgery's web site.)
In addition to all of that it surely must be Middle Village's number one cat killing factory because it acknowledges killing at least ten cats for Zhang. "We did euthanize several cats for him, believing that we were doing the right thing. We scanned them for microchips but none had them," the surgery told The Gothamist on December 12th. (See "Meet the Proud Cat Killer of Brooklyn and Queens.")
After a while even the unscrupulous moneygrubbing slugs at Antelyes got cold feet and began to offer Zhang other alternatives. "We offered to take in some to use as barn cats. He refused. We offered to spay-neuter and release at low cost. He refused. We offered to find good homes for these cats. He refused," Antelyes told The Gothamist.
It was, however, when the surgery steadfastly refused to kill any more cats for him that Zhang finally showed his true colors. "He threatened to drown the cats at home," Antelyes told The Gothamist. "This was when his true sick nature was finally displayed to us. We deeply regret that we even helped him for a short time."
Even in admitting that much Antelyes is being considerably less than candid because instead of immediately reporting Zhang to the police it merely instructed him to find another veterinarian to do his dirty work for him. It therefore is not only guilty of murdering ten totally innocent cats but complicit in Zhang's other monstrous crimes.
His profuse anti-feline rhetoric also exposes him as an inveterate cat-hater. "Not wanting to put cats to sleep is an emotional response, not a logical one if you really know what's going on out there," he pontificated to The Gothamist in the December 13th article cited supra. "I wish there was a service where we can trap these outside cats and put them to sleep, but it's not available since it's considered politically incorrect."
First of all, life for cats and humans alike is all emotion; reason merely aids the passions in achieving their objectives. For example, some individuals, such as Zhang, hate cats whereas other love them.
Secondly, with Animal Control, conventional shelters, rescue groups, veterinarians, fraudulent no-kill operations, the various departments of the United States Government, ornithologists, wildlife biologists, and others killing tens of millions of cats each year Zhang's vigilanteism is neither needed nor warranted.
No one is willing to disclose either how long or how many cats Zhang has killed. Even more disturbing, his killing spree easily could have gone on seemingly forever if he had not mistakenly trapped Marie Nasta's cat, Anthony, on November 20th and taken him to Antelyes to be killed. (See photos of him below.)
Eternally devoted to the orange stray that she took into her Bushwick apartment in 2008, Nasta made inquiries around her neighborhood after he disappeared that eventually led her to Zhang. "He denied it at first. He was very lucid and polite. But the timing and the fact of the cat's personality didn't sound right," she confided to The Gothamist in the December 12th article cited supra. "So when I called him back I asked him again. And finally he admitted he'd taken him to a vet."
"I feel very sad for what happened because Anthony did have a loving home. Please don't feel insulted by my saying this: Too many pets get lost and many of them have a worse fate out there than to be humanely euthanized," Zhang halfheartedly apologized to Nasta according to the December 12th edition of The Gothamist. "I don't know why this happened but it did. If I could bring Anthony back, I would. I could feel how much you loved him. Perhaps because so many people abandon their animals in the Bushwick area, I just made a wrong decision thinking, like all other cats, no one would look for them (sic)."
After all of his other explanations had been exposed as lies, Zhang next turned to religion in order to justify his complete lack of morality. "Many people have made physical threats against me. You (Nasta) may have read my posting (on Craigslist) that I do not fear death at all and look forward to it because I have a firm belief in the beauty of the afterlife," he told The Gothamist. "If it's any consolation, you will see Anthony again just as I will reunite with all of my animals again."
If Zhang's appeal to religion sounds familiar it is because Ken White of the Peninsula Humane Society in San Mateo recently indulged in the same self-serving baloney in order to justify killing Marvin of Half Moon Bay. (See Cat Defender post of September 28, 2011 entitled "Marvin Is Betrayed, Abducted, and Murdered by a Journalist and a Shelter Who Preposterously Maintain That They Were Doing Him a Favor.")
The more that religion is delved into the clearer it becomes that it is not only a particularly unsavory business but anti-life as well. Not only do adherents use it as a convenient excuse in order to absolve themselves of all moral responsibility toward their fellow man, the animals, and Mother Earth, but they additionally invoke it as a justification to commit all sorts of heinous crimes. (See Cat Defender posts of May 1, 2010 and December 23, 2010 entitled, respectively, "When It Comes to Cats, Acts of Faith Count for Absolutely Nothing with the Good Christians of Northside Baptist" and "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.")
If Zhang and those who think like him truly hate this life and world as much as they pretend the proper thing for them to do is to free themselves from it by jumping off of a bridge. They do not, however, have any right to take out their hatred of it on cats by denying them the right to exist.
"People keep calling me crazy now and won't talk about my solution but I told the three vets I used exactly what it is," Zhang told The Gothamist in the December 13th article cited supra. "I am trying to prevent or reduce colony cat suffering. Why would I go through this trouble, to do this? What sick reason could I have?"
No, Zhang definitely is not crazy. Rather, he is an evil cat-hating fiend and should be treated as such.
In addition to Anthony, Zhang also has killed several other cats that Nasta regularly fed. She since has sent out missives to area veterinarians warning them about Zhang's tactics but it is highly unlikely that any of them will be willing to pass up an opportunity to line their pockets at the expense of innocent cats.
Since the part-time instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan is not planning on instigating civil action against Zhang, she has been left to her grief and the bitter realization that Anthony's cold-blooded killer is destined to go unpunished. "He was sweet, mellow and very laid back. Nothing bothered him. I called him the Rastafarian cat," she told The Gothamist on December 12th. "One of my other cats, Parker, keeps looking for him and crying. Our hearts are broken."
Anyone who ever has loved and lost a cat knows only too well the heartbreak and pain that she now is experiencing. For some individuals there is no greater tragedy in life than losing a beloved cat.
The deafening silence of animal protection groups in New York City in the wake of Zhang's unmasking has been almost as revealing as his twisted thinking. "It's a shame that this has happened and I hate to have one bad apple spoil the whole barrel, because there are a lot of good people out there doing good TNR and we're really beginning to gain traction," Hoffman of the Mayor's Alliance declared to The Gothamist in the December 15th article cited supra. "We in no way, shape, or form condone what he was doing and emphasize it is not trap-neuter-return."
That is a debatable point in that no one other than the volunteers knows for certain what goes on in managed colonies. For example, Alley Cat Allies admits to returning to the Boardwalk only forty per cent of the cats that it traps in Atlantic City.
It accordingly could be killing off the other sixty per cent. (See Cat Defender post of December 10, 2011 entitled "Snowball Succumbs to the Inevitable after Toughing It Out for Two Decades at Atlantic City's Dangerous Underwood Hotel.")
It therefore is impossible to truly gauge the humaneness of TNR without knowing the kill rate of each managed colony. In furtherance of that goal, veterinarians and so-called no-kill operations also should be compelled to disclose their kill rates.
Any TNR program that does not respect the right of all cats to live is therefore completely illegitimate. Furthermore, implicit in that right is the right to competent veterinary care and, in particular, cats that suffer from such common maladies as FeLV and FIV must be treated as opposed to being killed.
Even more telling, Hoffman's organization not only categorically has refused to investigate Zhang and his accomplices within the veterinary medical profession but it aided and abetted his crimes by, at the very minimum, lending him traps. Besides running for cover, all the Alliance has done is to demand that he return the traps lent to him.
"That's fine. They can take their traps and shove it," Zhang retorted to The Gothamist on December 12th. "They have no idea what they are going to lose. They want five or six back? That's fine, I (have) bought more of my own."
As far as it is known, Zhang is still in control of all of his colonies except those in Bushwich which he claims to be too afraid to go near any longer. He therefore could very well still be either taking cats to various veterinarians to be killed or, as he has threatened, drowning them.
For some time now the Mayor's Alliance, working hand in glove with Neighborhood Cats and the Humane Society of the United States, has been attempting to bring all colonies and their caretakers under its thumb. Its complicity with Zhang, however, exposes that plot not only to be folly but also casts considerable doubt on the wisdom of allowing the Alliance to be involved with cats in any fashion. (See Cat Defender post of June 15, 2009 entitled "American Bird Conservancy, The New York Times, and the Humane Society Unite to Form as Achse des Bösen Against Cats.")
Not only has the Alliance refused to take action against Zhang and his accomplices, but New York City is not much closer to achieving no-kill status than it was a decade ago when Mayor Mike "Dirty Bloomers" Bloomberg established that lofty goal. More generally speaking, although Gotham is by far the wealthiest city in the country its spending on animal welfare routinely ranks near the bottom year after year.
New York harbors many filthy secrets in its malignant bosom but none is dirtier than its abysmal treatment of cats, geese, carriage horses, and other animals. The pockets of New Yorkers may be deep but their arms are awfully short.
Moreover, the Alliance stood idly by in 2007 when the Port Authority of New York and New York liquidated the cats at JFK. (See Cat Defender post of November 5, 2007 entitled "Port Authority Gives JFK's Long-Term Resident Felines the Boot and Rescue Groups Are Too Impotent To Save Them.")
Earlier this year it failed to act when Gracie's life came under threat at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island. (See Cat Defender post of August 11, 2011 entitled "Gracie's Life Is Placed in Grave Danger after the Snug Harbor Cultural Center Attempts to Drown Her and Steals Her Food Bowls.")
Only recently the city's Department of Health went after Matilda III of the Algonquin and, once again, rescue groups did absolutely nothing when hotel management responded by trussing her up and subjecting her to electrical shock. (See Cat Defender post of December 5, 2011 entitled "The Algonquin Cruelly Responds to Threats Made by New York City by Trussing Up Matilda III and Bombarding Her with Shock Therapy.")
Stealing cats and employing veterinarians to kill them is only a slight variation from the age-old practice of abducting them and giving them to shelters to slaughter. Back in 2006, amateur ornithologist Richard DeSantis of West Islip on Long Island used that modus operandi in order to get rid of his neighbors' cats. (See Cat Defender posts of June 15, 2006 and March 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Serial Cat Killer on Long Island Traps Neighbors' Cats and Then Gives Them to Shelter to Exterminate" and "Long Island Serial Cat Killer Guilty of Only Disorderly Conduct, Corrupt Court Rules.")
Real estate tycoon and gardener Mark J. Oberschmidt of Saginaw, Michigan, did the exact thing to his neighbors' cats last year. (See Cat Defender post of August 19, 2010 entitled "Music Lessons and Buggsey Are Murdered by a Cat-Hating Gardener and an Extermination Factory Posing as an Animal Shelter in Saginaw.")
Bird advocates Robert and Debbie McCallum of Edmonds, Washington, attempted to do likewise to Laura Martin's two-year-old cat, Turbo, in 2006 but were foiled in their attempt. (See Cat Defender post of October 30, 2006 entitled "Collar Saves a Cat Named Turbo from Extermination After He Is Illegally Trapped by Bird-Loving Psychopaths.")
Cat-hating vigilantes are not the only ones who steal and kill cats. The RSPCA, for example, has a nasty habit of doing the same thing. (See Cat Defender posts of June 5, 2007 and October 23, 2010 entitled, respectively, "RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated" and "RSPCA Steals and Executes Nighshift Who Was His Elderly Caretaker's Last Surviving Link to Her Dead Husband.")
Private exterminators and policemen also are allowed to kill cats with impunity. (See Cat Defender posts of August 30, 2007 and September 22, 2010 entitled "Texas Couple Files Lawsuit Against Pest Control Company for Trapping and Gassing Their Cat, Butty" and "Neanderthaloid Politicians in Lebanon, Ohio, Wholeheartedly Sanction the Illegal and Cold-Blooded Murder of Haze by a Trigger-Happy Cop.")
Not much attention is paid to them but it is conceivable that veterinarians kill nearly as many cats as shelters. Since all of them charge fees that they know most individuals either cannot or will not pay, they aggressively push murder as a cheaper alternative.
Pro bono work is practically unheard of and most of them categorically refuse to extend any form of credit to pet owners. Most of them are in practice only for the money and could care less about what they have to do in order to get it.
As a consequence, saving lives means absolutely nothing to them. As professionals, they are the scum-of-the-earth! (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.")
Even on those rare occasions when they can be prevailed upon, for a fee of course, to stir themselves they quickly distinguish themselves by their gross incompetence. For example, Wrekin View Vets of Wallington in Shropshire is so negligent that earlier this year it killed the wrong cat. (See Cat Defender post of July 28, 2011 entitled "Tammy and Maddy Are Forced to Pay the Ultimate Price after Their Owner and an Incompetent Veterinarian Elect to Play Russian Roulette with Their Lives.")
Other are are so incompetent that they are unable to either properly set broken legs or to recognize the difference between an eye infection and a ball bearing. (See Cat Defender posts of June 17, 2010 and July 19, 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 "Molly Loses an Eye to an Assailant with a Ball Bearing Gun Only Later to Be Victimized by an Incompetent Veterinarian.")
They even quite often botch routine sterilizations. (See Cat Defender posts of July 2, 2010 and February 26, 2008 entitled, respectively, "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" and "The Dark Side of Spay and Neuter: Veterinarian Botched Surgeries and Back Alley Castrations Claim the Lives of Numerous Cats.")
The implantation of cancer-causing microchips and the administration of unnecessary and often harmful vaccinations are two more of the profession's favorite scams. (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.")
There are many loopholes in the law that allow all sorts of groups and agencies to kill cats with impunity but perhaps none is more egregious than the one that allows veterinarians to decide which animals are to live. No physician ever could get away with deliberately killing patients and veterinarians should be held to the same standard. Moreover, if they were banned from killing, they eventually might be forced into lowering the exorbitant fees that they charge and, for once, actually treating sick and injured animals.
Even those cat owners who do not care one whit about the homeless should be astute enough to realize that even domesticated cats that live indoors sometimes either get lost or stolen. They in turn often wind up in the clutches of monsters like Zhang who hand them over to veterinarians and shelters to be liquidated.
In the final analysis, the only sure-fire way to stop the mischief is to impose an across the board ban on the killing of cats under all circumstances with mandatory lengthy jail terms for all violators. Otherwise unscrupulous veterinarians, monsters like Zhang, shelters, and phony-baloney animal rights groups like the Mayor's Alliance and PETA are destined to continue committing their dastardly crimes.
Photos: The Gothamist (Zhang), Antelyes Animal Hospital (veterinarians with a dog), and Marie Nasta (Anthony).