Long-Suffering Andrea Finally Secures a Permanent Home after Incredibly Surviving Quadruple Attempts Made on Her Life by an Unrepentant Utah Shelter
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it."
-- Upton Sinclair
Andrea, the beautiful black and white female who survived being gassed twice at the West Valley City Animal Shelter (WVCAS) in Utah back on October 13th, finally has a permanent home. She was adopted by an unidentified local family on December 11th and joins a household that includes another female and a pair of toms.
In addition to having been gassed twice with carbon monoxide, shelter personnel attempted to suffocate her to death in a plastic trash bag as well as to freeze the life out of her by confining her in a refrigerator. The only consideration shown her by shelter employees was that they did not attempt to either wring her neck or to drown her in a bucket of water as some of their colleagues at other institutions have been known to do whenever the deadly gas fails to do the trick.
She did not, however, come away completely unscathed. In particular, her life and death ordeal left her with an unsteady gait and she reportedly experienced difficulties using the litter box. Even more disturbing, it initially was feared that she had suffered neurological, liver, and kidney damage.
Those concerns apparently were premature in that Janita Coombs of the Community Animal Welfare Society (CAWS) in Clearfield recently stated that Andrea seems to have made a complete recovery. (See photos of her above and below.)
There cannot be any denying that she certainly has been put through a simply horrifying ordeal. Hopefully, CAWS made sure that she received all the proper diagnostic tests but even then it is difficult to predict what maladies she may encounter further down the road and how they may affect her life expectancy.
If The Fates remain on her side, she will not encounter any new health problems and therefore will be able to go on to enjoy a long and happy life in her new home. It almost goes without saying that if there ever was a cat who was entitled to her happiness it certainly is Andrea.
Just as she lives on, so too does the national debate over the use of gas chambers in order to eradicate companion animals. Unfortunately, the sticks-in-the-mud who run the show in West Valley City so far have proven themselves to be impervious to all morality, intelligence, and honesty.
"The issue has been examined closely multiple times since the shelter's construction," Wayne Pyle, city manager of West Valley, told ABC-TV on January 5th. ("Cat Survives Two Rounds in Gas Chamber, But Can't Change City Policy.") "We're comfortable that the policy in place is a good one."
In fact, the city, which gasses fifty-one per cent of all animals that it kills, steadfastly maintains that Andrea's survival was a freak occurrence. "We've never had an instance like this since we started using this method so it does work," WVCAS's Aaron Crim told the Daily Mail on October 19th. (See "The Cat That Wouldn't Die.") "It's actually very humane and it's very quick. This is just an anomaly."
Documents obtained by Coombs and CAWS under the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) prove Crim and Pyle to be outrageous liars. Specifically, notes made by shelter employees reveal that gassing failed to kill condemned animals on at least nine occasions between February 2010 and October 2011.
It has not been specified what then happened to the animals but presumably they were gassed a second time. If that indeed were the case, it also is likely that some of them survived the second attempt made on their lives only to later die from either suffocation or the cold.
Even a cursory recitation of the great suffering that accompanies carbon monoxide poisoning, suffocation, and hypothermia fails to do justice to the myriad of ghastly horrors that take place inside gas chambers. First of all, most gassings are anything but orderly, dignified, and individualized; rather, they are chaotic, undignified, en masse exterminations that sometimes involve up to as many as two dozen animals at a time.
Under such abominable conditions, fights and wrestling matches often erupt as the condemned animals jockey for standing room. The blood left on the floor, the scratches on the walls, and the animals' terrified and anguished screams all attest to the utterly diabolical character of gas chambers.
Not surprisingly, seizures, convulsions, excessive drooling, prolonged asphyxiation, and considerable banging around are common. Sometimes the suffering and terror drags on for up to a half-hour before the last survivor finally succumbs to the inevitable.
Anyone who would dare to label such horrendous mistreatment of an animal as humane is not only a barefaced liar but a sadist to boot. (See Cat Defender post of November 12, 2011 entitled "The Multiple Attempts Made Upon Andrea's Life Graphically Demonstrate the Urgent Need for an Immediate Ban on the Killing of All Shelter Animals.")
In spite of all of that, politicians in West Valley City and nearby Taylorsville, which also uses the shelter to do its dirty work, are not in any hurry to mend their evil ways. For instance, West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder is on record as stating that he wants to witness both gassings and lethal injections before making up his mind on the subject.
Taylorsville Mayor Russ Wall has been equally equivocal by calling for an investigation of the shelter. "We're going to make sure the animals are being handled as humanely as possible," he blowed to The Salt Lake Tribune on January 12th. (See "Advocates Pushing to Close West Valley City Animal Gas Chamber.") "Frankly, I don't like either (gas or sodium pentobarbital). It was disturbing to me to watch a euthanasia."
West Valley City councilman Corey Rushton is, apparently, the only local politician to be unequivocally opposed to gassing animals. "It's a trend that's on the its way out," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "The bottom line is the majority of the country is moving away from gas chambers."
Since veterinarians always have made good money through the quick and easy administration of lethal doses of sodium pentobarbital to animals that they instead should be treating, it is not surprising that local practitioner Kay Brown is a proponent of that method of killing. "We human beings are responsible for ensuring that an animal's life is taken only with the highest degree of respect and as free as possible from pain and distress," she pontificated to The Salt Lake Tribune in the article cited supra.
Candid admissions of that sort make it quite obvious that Brown and her colleagues within the veterinary medical profession do not have so much as a scintilla of regard for the sanctity of animal life. As such, they have irrevocably forfeited their right to speak up in behalf of their victims. (See Cat Defender posts of December 22, 2011, January 11, 2012, and January 19, 2012 entitled, respectively, "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," "A Deadly Intrigue Concocted by a Thief, a Shelter, and a Veterinary Chain Costs Ginger the Continued Enjoyment of His Golden Years," and "Veterinary Watchdog Group Not Only Allows an Incompetent Substitute Practitioner to Get Away with Killing Junior but Scolds His Owner for Complaining.")
For whatever it is worth, recent research suggests that, at least in America, most pet owners are opposed to shelters killing companion animals as a population control measure. For example, a telephone poll of one-thousand-one-hundred-eighteen pet owners conducted October 13th-17th by Gfk Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications at the behest of Petside and the Associated Press found that seventy per cent of them were opposed to shelters killing animals except those that are too sick to be treated and too aggressive to be adopted. (See the Atlanta Constitution and Journal, January 5, 2012, "Euthanasia to Control Shelter Populations Unpopular.")
That is not really saying very much in that all sick animals can be treated to some degree if the money were made available and sanctuaries are the humane option for unadoptable cats that are not returned to managed colonies. Even aggressive dogs can be saved.
For instance, although both PETA and the Humane Society of the United States wanted all of Michael Vick's fighting dogs to be killed, humane voices prevailed and just about all of them ultimately were saved. Some of them since have been adopted whereas others are in sanctuaries.
That study follows on the heels of an earlier one conducted in 2007 by Alley Cat Allies (ACA) that found that eighty-one per cent of the one-thousand-two-hundred-five respondents agreed that it was more humane to allow homeless cats to live outdoors as opposed to trapping and killing them. (See "United States Opinion on Humane Treatment of Stray Cats.")
With the notable exception of strenuous opposition mounted by cat-hating ornithologists, wildlife biologists, and the United States Government, TNR as practiced by ACA and other groups is gaining a grudging acceptance across the land. The general public's position on the fate of shelter animals is a good deal more problematic. This is due primarily to the fact that it is individual cat and dog owners who abandon their companions at shelters.
If they could be convinced to stop behaving in such a patently immoral and irresponsible manner there would not be nearly as many animals entering these extermination camps. Nevertheless, some pet owners are so uncaring that they will exploit any economic downturn as a convenient excuse in order to get shed of their companions. (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.")
Beyond that there is the inherent hypocrisy of pet owners who condemn shelters for killing animals but yet think absolutely nothing about having their own cats and dogs killed off by moneygrubbing, unconscionable veterinarians once they become either elderly or sick. In that regard, veterinarians should be compelled by law to disclose, like shelters, the number of defenseless animals that they exterminate each year.
Animal Control officers and policemen also kill animals in the field and these deaths are not included in the kill rates announced by shelters and animal rescue groups. The same is true of the various branches of the cat-hating national government, vivisectors, and college professors. (See Cat Defender posts of June 23, 2011 and July 18, 2011 entitled, respectively, "Wallowing in Welfare Dollars, Lies, and Prejudice, the Bloodthirsty United States Fish and Wildlife Service Is Again Killing Cats in the Florida Keys" and "Evil Professors Have Transformed College Campuses into Hotbeds of Hatred Where Cats Routinely Are Vilified, Horribly Abused, and Systematically Killed.")
Gas chambers are justifiably condemned because of their graphic nature and the horrible suffering that they impose upon cats like Andrea. Nonetheless, they merely are one method of extermination.
Even more alarming, their opponents are not the least bit reluctant to sing the praises of lethal injection. In doing so they are advocating that the en masse slaughter of innocent animals is justifiable because these injections supposedly are quicker, more efficient, and inflict less pain.
By indulging in such self-serving sophistry they conveniently omit that lethal injections, like carbon monoxide, are not one-hundred per cent foolproof. (See The Detroit News, November 9, 2010, "Euthanized Dog Who Wouldn't Die Will Be Going to New Home.")
Nor for that matter are street corner gunshot wounds to the head inflicted by rogue cops. (See People Magazine, May 12, 2003, "Dosha the Wonder Dog.")
The crime lies in the taking of innocent lives and in that sense the method of execution is irrelevant. All those individuals and groups that so delight in spending their days debating the minutiae of extermination methodology simply are making excuses for the continuation of the status quo.
Ten days before Andrea miraculously survived a double gassing by WVCAS, a twenty-pound beagle-mix named Daniel also was gassed by Animal Control in Florence, Alabama. Luckily for him, the staff at the pound gave up on killing him after one attempt and, as far as it is known, he did not suffer any permanent damage. The facility does admit, however, that he was the third animal in a dozen years to have defeated the deadly gas.
Thanks to the timely intervention of Eleventh Hour Rescue, Daniel was flown to its shelter in Rockaway, New Jersey, on October 26th by Pilots and Paws. He then was placed in foster care with hairdresser Jill Pavlik.
Three weeks later in mid-November he was adopted by dog writer and motivational speaker Joe Dwyer of Nutley. (See photo above of them together.)
At the Dwyer home he joins Joe's wife, Geralynn, daughter Jenna, and four other dogs. "He's a happy, healthy guy," Jenna exclaimed to The Star Ledger of Newark on November 16th. (See "Having Survived Gas Chamber, 'Miracle Dog' Enjoys Newfound Life with Nutley Family.") "I love him."
Not only does Daniel now have a permanent home but Dwyer has a busy future planned for him. Eventually he may be used as a therapy dog but for the time being his talents will be employed in order to help put an end to the gassing of companion animals as well as to promote increased adoptions. For example, on November 13th he appeared at a rally in Malvern in order to lend his support to an eponymous bill that would end the gassing of animals in Pennsylvania.
Introduced by State Senator Andy Dinniman, Daniel's Law was unanimously passed by the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on December 14th. "I'm heartened that my fellow committee members unanimously agreed that it's time for Pennsylvania to join the sixteen states that no longer allow euthanasia by gassing," Dinniman stated in a December 16th press release posted on his web site. (See "Senate Committee Approves Dinniman Bill Banning Animal Gassing.") "The method is cruel, unnecessary, and even dangerous to shelter personnel."
Like everywhere else except in Washington when it comes to bailing out Wall Street crooks, the legislative wheels grind slowly in Harrisburg thus making it difficult to predict if and when Daniel's Law will become a reality. At last report it had been returned to the Appropriations Committee on January 25th for further consideration.
It is just too bad that Dinniman, like politicians in Utah and elsewhere, fails to realize that killing cats and dogs by lethal injection and other methods that do not entail gas chambers also is not only cruel and unnecessary but patently immoral. Moreover, it is nothing short of outrageous that he would cry his eyes out for individuals who have freely chosen to earn their shekels through the liquidation of totally innocent animals.
If the truth dare be told, what they deserve is either substantial jail time or, at the very least, a spot in the unemployment line. All of society's sympathies instead should be reserved for their victims.
Dinniman, however, is far from being the only individual who has his priorities all wrong. (See Cat Defender posts of September 30, 2005 and November 23, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Morally Bankrupt Washington Post Pens a Love Letter to Shelter Workers Who Exterminate Cats and Dogs" and "Texas Newspaper Defends Pet Genocide by Publishing Graphic Photographs of Shelter Workers Exterminating a Dog.")
That is not about to change anytime soon because the mistreatment, abuse, and systematic slaughter of companion animals is not only ingrained but a billion dollar racket as well. At the epicenter of this black-hearted scheme are, inter alia, Animal Control officers, shelters, phony-baloney rescue groups, veterinarians, cops, the manufacturers of gas chambers and sodium pentobarbital and, above all, politicians that are too corrupt to fund sterilizations, sanctuaries, veterinary care, and legitimate adoption services. In addition to the money involved, some of these individuals and groups no doubt revel in the commission of their heinous crimes.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it," Upton Sinclair wrote in his book, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked. Actually, he was being diplomatic because all of those who earn their livelihoods by exploiting animals understand only too well what they are doing; au contraire, they simply think more of money and power than they ever will of the inalienable rights of animals.
To top it all off, many of these individuals, groups, and institutions selectively invoke religion as an excuse for not doing more to save cats and dogs. "The Lord works in wonderful ways, because not only was Daniel saved, but he became a symbol and an impetus for us to get this bill going," Dinniman preached to The Star Ledger in the article cited supra. "Dogs are fortunate: they can live in the moment and not resent the past."
Dwyer also is guilty of the same offense. "God spared his life for a reason," he declared to the New York Post on November 17th. (See "Happiness Is Live Puppy.")
First of all, any invocation of the supernatural is inherently suspect. Even more so are the pronouncements of adherents who pretend not only to have access to their gods but to know their desires as well.
Any religious creed that is satisfied with saving only a handful of innocent animals while simultaneously condemning millions more to be systematically eradicated each year is not one that any genuine animal lover ever would willingly embrace. Such a religion is not only hypocritical but immoral.
Nevertheless, at a time when bold and decisive action is urgently needed in order to stop the slaughter of the innocents this society is stuck with the likes of Dinniman and Dwyer and their nickel and dime moralities. Cats, dogs, and other animals are entitled to far better representation than that.
Photos: The Mirror (Andrea on blue rug), CAWS (Andrea on yellow and orange rug), and Jennifer Brown of The Star Ledger (Daniel and Dwyer).