Sliced Nearly in Half by a Kill Trap, Churchill Unwittingly Stumbles into a Live Trap and That Faux Pas Ultimately Saves His Life
"Never an injury like that. The cat was almost cut in two."
-- Madi Legere of CA-R-MA
If ever it could be said that a cat had experienced Glück im Unglück, Churchill is the one. The eight- to twelve-month-old homeless kitten's trail of sorrow began during the first week of December when he stumbled into some type of kill trap while searching for food in east Moncton, New Brunswick.
Caught right behind his front legs, the deadly snare quickly sliced through the marmalade and white tom's muscle tissue down to his abdominal cavity. From the description of his injuries it would appear that Churchill was victimized by a body-gripper trap although it is remotely possible that a common leghold snare was the villain.
His injuries were so severe that he surely would have succumbed to either blood loss, infection, predation, hunger, or the elements if he had not unwittingly stumbled into another trap shortly thereafter. This time around it fortunately turned out to be a live one belonging to the Moncton chapter of Cat Rescue Maritimes (CA-R-MA).
"Never an injury like that," CA-R-MA volunteer Madi Legere, who found and rescued Churchill, told the Moncton Times and Transcript on December 14th. (See "Lucky Cat Escapes Hunter's Snare with Eight Lives Intact.") "The cat was almost cut in two."
Churchill also is indebted to the unseasonably warm weather for his narrow escape because CA-R-MA normally does not trap homeless cats during the winter months because it would be irresponsible to release spayed females back into the severe cold. For example, normal nighttime lows in Moncton during December average a bone-chilling 9° Fahrenheit with daytime highs struggling to reach 31° Fahrenheit.
Legere promptly rushed Churchill to the Vet Care Pet Hospital in nearby Riverview where Dr. Miro Drmac removed a significant amount of fur and dead muscle tissue, sutured the gaping wound shut, and placed him on antibiotics. Amazingly enough, none of his vital organs suffered any damage in his frantic, albeit ultimately successful, struggle to escape from the snare and he is expected to make a complete recovery. (See photo above of him and the horrific damage done to his midsection by the trap.)
"He's just an exceptional fighter," Drmac told the Moncton Times and Transcript. "He's a sweet cat."
Nevertheless, it was an awfully close call for him. "It would have been a matter of days (before he died)," Drmac added. "It (the injury) was really bad."
As soon as he was well enough to leave the hospital Churchill was transferred to the residence of CA-R-MA's co-director, Marlah Hoganson. "I have to give him antibiotics every two days, and I have managed to do that," she related to the Moncton Times and Transcript in the article cited supra. "He's feral, but he's not aggressive, if that makes any sense."
The game plan calls for him to remain with Hoganson until spring. If a good home cannot be secured for him by then, she plans to have him join the fourteen cats who live in her barn.
Hopefully that will not be necessary because in addition to being a very courageous and long-suffering cat, Churchill is a handsome fellow who would make a very special addition to most any home. Besides, he is still young enough to adapt to domesticity if an owner can be found who is knowledgeable in the ways of homeless cats and has the prerequisite patience to work with him.
Either way, his days of roughing it in the unforgiving Canadian cold and snow are now history. So, too, hopefully are his encounters with kill traps.
Unfortunately, there was not so much as a smidgen of Glück in the horrific Unglück that last month befell a handsome one-year-old black tom named Marmite from the rough and tumble Chapelfields section of York in North Yorkshire. Snared in what is believed to have been a leghold trap, Marmite sustained deep lacerations to one paw as well as two broken legs. (See photo of him above.)
"Normally he would jump up on the window, but he didn't this time," fifty-two-year-old Vincent Scaum, whose seventeen-year-old stepdaughter Megan Horsewood owned Marmite, told The Press of York on January 19th. (See "Cat Put Down after Suffering Dreadful Injuries in 'Snare' Horror.") "My daughter went to see what was wrong with him and his paw was hanging off and both legs were badly broken." (See photo of them below.)
In an all-too-familiar scenario, Scaum and Horsewood took Marmite to a local veterinarian and had him killed. This is in spite of the fact that injured paws can be surgically repaired and broken legs can be set and put in casts in order to protect them from further damage while they heal.
Even in severe cases, cats can get by just fine with severed appendages. Three-legged cats are common and in Monmouth, Illinois, one named Trace only has two.
Even more astounding, a cat named Callie Mae in Theodore, Alabama, is getting by just fine without any legs. (See Cat Defender post of November 17, 2010 entitled "Penniless and Suffering from Two Broken Legs, It Looked Like It Was Curtains for Trace Until Geoffrey Weech Rode to Her Rescue on His White Horse.")
It thus would appear from the available information that Marmite's life could have been spared if Scaum and Horsewood had been either willing or able to provide him with proper, expert veterinary care. The veterinarian who so callously snuffed out his life in return for a hefty fee is likewise not only a disgrace to the practice of veterinary medicine but a sorry, miserable excuse for a human being as well.
Churchill, whose injuries appear to have been far worse than those sustained by Marmite, is alive today thanks to the compassion, generosity, and genuine respect for feline life shown to him by Legere and CA-R-MA. Marmite, on the other hand, received none of that from either his owners or the attending veterinarian and as a consequence is prematurely dead.
Even in death there has not been any peace for him because instead of receiving a dignified funeral and a proper burial, his mangled corpse has been placed in cold storage so that the do-nothing rotters at the RSPCA can have a gape at it, strut around, and utter meaningless platitudes. Not only is it highly unlikely that it will lift so much as a finger in order to bring Marmite's killer to justice, but it previously has demonstrated a total unwillingness to press the authorities for an across the board ban on kill traps.
"The RSPCA has said it would like to see snares banned, but it doesn't look like this is going to happen in the near future," a mouthpiece for the organization admitted to The Press in the article cited supra.
That is in spite of an increase in these types of incidents all across England. "Unfortunately, there are far more incidents of animals getting caught in traps, like snares, than there should be and RSPCA inspectors often have to deal with incidents in which snares have inflicted injury and extreme suffering to animals," the spokeswoman continued. "Snares are usually set to catch foxes or rabbits for the purpose of pest control but their victims can often be badgers, cats, or dogs. Snares don't discriminate between species and anything that moves through the snare's noose is a potential victim."
That is all the more reason that these deadly devices should be banned. No animal, including those that some consider to be pests, ever should be killed in such a patently inhumane and barbaric manner. Yet it is precisely wildlife biologists such as Stephen M. Vantassel, Aaron M. Hildreth, and Scott E. Hygnstrom of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln who not only champion the use of these devices against wild animals but cats as well. (See "Feral Cats and Their Management.")
Even live traps are bad enough and therefore only should be used in order to treat sick and injured animals, to relocate others, and for sterilization purposes. Not only is such trapping traumatic for all animals but even live traps can be lethal if they are left unattended for any measurable length of time. (See Cat Defender post of August 23, 2010 entitled "Valley Oak SPCA Kills a Cat by Allowing It to Languish in the Heat in an Unattended Trap for Five Days at the Tulare County Courthouse.")
The thoroughly detestable practice of whereby wildlife biologists repeatedly hound down animals so that they can either dart or trap them for purposes of equipping them with surveillance devices not only robs them of their freedom but costs many of them their lives. (See Cat Defender posts of May 21, 2009, April 17, 2006, and May 4, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Macho B, America's Last Jaguar, Is Illegally Trapped, Radio-Collared, and Killed Off by Wildlife Biologists in Arizona," "Hal the Central Park Coyote Is Suffocated to Death by Wildlife Biologists Attempting to Tag Him," and "Scientific Community's Use of High-Tech Surveillance Is Aimed at Subjugating, Not Saving, the Animals.")
The same logic is likewise applicable to glue traps which snare cats and other animals as well as mice. As is the case with kill traps, the RSPCA blows considerable smoke about them but does not appear to be doing very much in order to get them banned. (See Cat Defender post of August 17, 2010 entitled "Sticky Loses Much of Her Fur after She Is Ensnared in a Glue Trap Inhumanely Set in a Birmingham Garden.")
Although the indiscriminate use of kill traps is a worldwide problem, anecdotal evidence suggests that their utilization is particularly pervasive in British Columbia. For instance, in August of 2005 a two- to five-year-old cat named Hopalong Cassidy lost his right leg in a leghold snare in Ellison. Worst still, it is estimated that he was forced to drag around the device for two to three days before he was rescued. (See Cat Defender post of August 18, 2005 entitled "Brave Orange Tabby Dubbed Hopalong Cassidy Loses a Limb to a Leghold Trap in British Columbia.")
In December of that same year, a black and white cat named Trapper had one of his legs badly mangled in another leghold trap in Mission, sixty-two kilometers outside of Vancouver. (See Cat Defender post of December 24, 2005 entitled "A Cat Named Trapper Falls Victim to Another Rusty Leghold Trap in British Columbia.")
In 2007, emergency personnel in Decatur, Alabama, were forced to use water hoses in order to flush a terrified black male out of a sewer after he had taken refuge there in the aftermath of getting tangled up in a leghold trap. Even though the rescue was a success, it was feared that he might lose a paw.
In that same year a twelve-week-old kitten named Moppel from Rodau in Sachsen escaped death by inches when his neck became caught in a leghold trap. He still easily could have died while attempting to extricate himself from the device if it had not been for the timely intervention of fifty-seven-year-old Reiner Kümpfel. (See Cat Defender post of September 4, 2007 entitled "Kitten Named Moppel Is Rescued Unharmed from a Leghold Trap in Sachsen but a Cat in Decatur Is Not Nearly So Fortunate.")
It thus seems clear that kill traps are incompatible with any halfway humane animal rights agenda. Moreover, those groups and individuals, such as evangelical theologian Vantassel, who persist in deploying them in order to maim and kill defenseless animals are guilty of acts of gross animal cruelty and should be punished accordingly.
Until the day dawns when these heinous killing devices are outlawed once and for all time something desperately needs to be done in order to ensure that when cats like Marmite are injured by them that they receive the emergency veterinary treatment that they so richly deserve. Getting caught in a kill trap and being severely injured was bad enough in its own right but he certainly did not deserve the expedient of having his precious, young life extinguished.
English society failed him through its steadfast refusal to ban these deadly devices, his owners betrayed his love and trust by refusing to pay for his treatment, and the attending veterinarian completed the trifecta of criminal immorality by ending his life. Three strikes was all it took in order to put Marmite out of the great game of life but if there were any justice in this world the fortunes of all those involved would have been reversed and Marmite would still be alive.
Photos: CA-R-MA (Churchill) and The Press (Marmite, Horsewood and Scaum).