.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Virginia's Disreputable Legal and Political Establishment Is All Set to Acquit Jonathan N. Snoddy at His Retrial for Brutally Beating to Death an Injured Cat

Kenneth Leo Alger II

"Integrity is at the top of the list. You have to have integrity, honesty and the trust of the people you work with in the community. If you don't have that you're not going anywhere."
-- Donald Harper, recently retired chief of police in Harrisonburg

Harrisonburg police officer Jonathan N. Snoddy's retrial for savagely bludgeoning to death an injured cat on Settlers Lane last November 11th has been postponed from April 9th until June 7th. It then will be heard by a jury in Rockingham County Circuit Court with Judge James V. Lane presiding.

The delay was prompted when the Virginia State Bar recommended that prosecutors in Rockingham County recuse themselves due to a conflict of interest. Specifically, the Bar took exception to their prior dealings with Snoddy's fellow officers who testified on his behalf at his first trial.

This marks the second time that the Bar has intervened in this case. Prior to the first trial, Rockingham County prosecutor Marsha Garst received its approval to proceed against Snoddy because, in its opinion, her office did not have enough of a relationship with him so as to prejudice the case. (See the Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg, March 27, 2012, "Convicted Officer Back on the Beat.")

The Bar's two rulings are contradictory in that it surely knew well before the first trial ever got under way that the Harrisonburg Police Department (HPD) would rally around Snoddy by not only testifying on his behalf but also by packing Rockingham County District Court in an effort to intimidate those charged with dispensing justice. The conflict of interest which existed in the first trial manifested itself writ large when Garst's underling, Cristabel Opp, prosecuted Snoddy with all the vigor of a doting maternal aunt lovingly stroking the hair of her favorite nephew. (See Cat Defender post of March 22, 2012 entitled "In Another Outrageous Miscarriage of Justice, Rogue Cop Jonathan N. Snoddy Is Let Off with a $50 Fine for Savagely Bludgeoning to Death an Injured Cat.")

The Bar's inexcusable failure to demand that Garst's office stand down was made all the more glaring after  judges Richard Claybrok and William Heatwole recused themselves due to their prior dealings with Snoddy. That opened the door for old political hack Steven Helvin to come out of retirement and try the case.

Although to his credit he did find Snoddy guilty of one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty in a bench trial that concluded on March 8th, Helvin left no doubt about his prejudices. "It's difficult for a judge to second-guess law enforcement," he declared. "(But) I think the way he killed the cat was in violation. The way he killed the cat was unnecessary." (See Daily News-Record, March 9, 2012, "City Cop Loses a $50 Case.")

As a result, Helvin let off Snoddy with an insultingly lenient $50 fine. "He doesn't deserve to go to jail," he proclaimed with a heavy heart.

As it may be recalled, resident Wayne Meadows discovered the injured cat after it had been run down, deliberately no doubt, by a hit-and-run motorist. When all local humane groups and veterinarians turned down his entreaties for help, he naïvely turned to the HPD.

Twenty-five-year-old Snoddy, who lives in nearby Bridgewater, arrived on the scene but instead of providing the cat with nearby emergency veterinary care, he took the law into his own hands and killed it with his night stick and by, perhaps, slamming its head against the rockwork outside Meadows's residence. Although by that time he had gone back inside, Meadows nevertheless did overhear up to twenty loud thumps coming from his front porch.

Press reports have not disclosed what Snoddy did with the cat's corpse and, as a consequence, it is doubtful that a necropsy was performed on it. Such a procedure likely would have been able to delineate the damage done by the motorist from that which Snoddy later  inflicted.

Since the cat was alive when Snoddy got his murderous hands on it, the presumption is that it possibly could have been saved if prompt veterinary care had been procured for it. Under no circumstances whatsoever should this injured cat have been savagely bludgeoned to death by Snoddy who, to this very day, remains utterly unremorseful, defiant, and contemptuous of all morality, legal norms, and public opinion.

None of that mattered to Helvin, however, who has a long history of short changing cats and other animals. (See Cat Defender post of June 22, 2006 entitled "Used Car Dealer in Virginia Murders Sweet Three-Year-Old Cat Named Carmen with a Rifle Shot to the Neck.")

Despite the sweetheart deal that he received from old reliable Helvin, Snoddy and his shysters were back in court the very next day, March 9th, demanding a new trial, this one by a jury, in Rockingham County Circuit Court. That request not only was granted but his retrial was expedited to begin on April 9th.

Under what passes for justice in Virginia, Snoddy's legal shenanigans probably are legal. They certainly are not fair, however, in that it is doubtful that most defendants in Rockingham County are accorded both speedy bench and jury trials in two separate courts.

If the state allowed all defendants to shop around to their hearts' content for prosecutors, judges, courts, and different types of proceedings it is doubtful that any of them ever would be convicted of anything. Besides, the cost to the taxpayers would be astronomical. If against all odds Snoddy should lose again in court on June 7th it will be interesting to see if Virginia's legal and political establishment will grant him a third trial.

Best of all as far as Snoddy is concerned, the taxpayers are footing the bill not only for his judicial wranglings but also for his highly-paid defense team as well. The legal and political establishment in Virginia quite obviously does not spare any expense when it comes to protecting one of its fellow criminals.

By contrast, Good Samaritan Meadows was left so traumatized by Snoddy's unprovoked murder of the injured cat that he was forced to miss an unspecified amount of work. He then no doubt was deposed by both Opp and Snoddy's attorneys before trial in addition to being called to testify in court.

Donald Harper Basking in a Career Devoted to "Integrity"

Now, he will be forced to go through the same rigmarole all over again. Unlike Snoddy, however, no one is paying him for his time and expenses.

The willful mistreatment and abuse of witnesses and plaintiffs is one of the major inequities within the American judicial system. Quite often, these seemingly never ending judicial exercises turn their lives upside down and deplete their resources without providing them with an ounce of either satisfaction or justice.

Prosecutors, judges, policemen, and other court employees fart around on the public's dime until the cows come home and therefore could care less what witnesses and victims are forced to endure. In such a perverted milieu, justice never could be much more than an afterthought.

In place of  the acquiescent Opp, Lane has appointed Kenneth Leo Alger II to prosecute Snoddy. Although the two-month delay was ostensibly granted in order to allow Alger to familiarize himself with the case, he more than likely will spend that time concocting a public relations ruse of some sort that will allow him to purposefully lose the case without damaging his reputation too severely.

There certainly is not anything in his lackluster background that would give fans of justice any reason for optimism. Elected in November of last year, he currently serves as district attorney in neighboring Page County.

Not only is he a sixth generation resident of that county but a cattle rancher as well. He therefore is as bedrock establishment as they come and an animal exploiter and killer on top of that.

He additionally is a greedy bugger in that he works part-time as a business law professor at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg. In a stinging indictment of both the halls of ivy and those who slave away at these bloodsucking, capitalist institutions, The New York Times reported on November 20, 2007 that a full seventy per cent of all professors are adjuncts. (See "Adjuncts Outnumber Tenured Professors on United States' Campuses" and Washington Post, July 21, 2002, "Professors of Desperation.")

The only individuals who take these second-class sinecures are either small-minded egomaniacs who like to hear themselves roar or individuals who are so greedy that they will do almost anything for a few extra bucks. Even delivering the mail would be a step up in the world as compared to them because it at least is honest work and all employees are, more or less, treated equally.

Alger also is a 2003 law graduate of the University of Georgia in Athens which, incidentally, is where Nico Dauphiné honed her skills at killing cats before moving on to Washington and plying her craft there. It is doubtful that Alger crossed paths with her in Athens but it nonetheless is something to be borne in mind. (See Cat Defender posts of July 12, 2011, November 18, 2011, and January 6, 2012 entitled, respectively, "The Arrest of Nico Dauphiné for Attempting to Poison a Colony of Homeless Cats Unmasks the National Zoo as a Hideout for Ailurophobes and Criminals," "Nico Dauphiné, Ph.D., Is Convicted of Attempting to Poison a Colony of Homeless Cats but Questions Remain Concerning the Smithsonians's Role" and "Nico Dauphiné Is Let Off with an Insultingly Lenient $100 Fine in a Show Trial That Was Fixed from the Very Beginning.")

The first real test of Alger's sincerity will come during voir dire. Since Snoddy needs only one member of the jury to vote in his favor for him to escape punishment, Alger must be especially careful during this phase of the trial if he is serious about winning.

That, by the way, is how James Munn Stevenson was able to get away with his feline killing spree. (See Cat Defender posts of November 22, 2006 and November 20, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Evil Galveston Bird Lover Is Finally Arrested After Having Gunned Down Hundreds of Cats" and "Bird Lovers All Over the World Rejoice as Serial Killer James M. Stevenson Is Rewarded by Galveston Court for Gunning Down Hundreds of Cats.")

The long and short of the matter is that absolutely no one expects Alger to prevail in court even if he mounts a vigorous prosecution. That is because it not only is nearly impossible to exclude all cat-haters from a jury but Americans are madly in love with cops and almost never convict them of anything.

Changing prosecutors therefore is woefully inadequate if the objective is to serve the ends of justice. For even a semblance of justice to be meted out in this case a change of venue also is needed. Specifically, this case from the outset should have been moved out of southern Virginia and tried by a competent prosecutor, if one can be found, and before an impartial judge. Above all, any jury impaneled to hear this case should consist of something other than Snoddy's redneck buddies and neighbors.

As for him, he was reinstated to active duty soon after his conviction and has been on patrol since the last week of March. From the time of the murder of the cat until his recent reinstatement, he had been assigned to desk duty where he continued to draw his full salary.

"Officer Snoddy has returned to his normal patrol assignment with the Harrisonburg Police Department," Mary-Hope Vass of the department told the Daily News-Record in the article cited supra. "No further information will be released from HPD due to the confidentiality of the internal affairs investigation."

The HPD's totally bogus internal investigation of Snoddy's criminal behavior was the beginning of what was destined to become a lengthy series of elaborate dodges orchestrated by it and the political and legal establishment in Harrisonburg. "An internal investigation was conducted in this matter and appropriate action has been taken internally," the department declared to WHSV-TV of Harrisonburg on November 30th. (See "Man Who Reported Officer Beating Dying Cat Speaks on Outcry.") "In addition, the department continues to review current procedures in handling animal complaints to determine if any changes or modifications need to be be made."

Stephen Monticelli

As is the case with just about all internal police investigations, the HPD swept Snoddy's crime underneath the rug and reinstated him despite his conviction. He has not been either punished or disciplined in any shape, form, or fashion.

As far as it is known, the HPD has not issued any new guidelines on how its officers are supposed to treat injured cats. In that context it is interesting to note in passing that the department's statement groups this incident under the rubric of an animal complaint. C'est-à-dire, it regards all cats and other animals as little more than pests to be abused and eradicated.

First of all, it is the duty of the HPD and all other law enforcement agencies to ensure that the streets are safe for cats, all other animals, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Included in that mandate is the responsibility to track down and arrest not only all hit-and-run motorists who injure and kill cats but also those who violate the rules of the road.

Second of all, if the citizens of Harrisonburg had anything remotely resembling a conscience they would insist that City Council and Mayor Richard Baugh set aside funding for the emergency veterinary care of sick and injured animals. As everyone knows only too well, most veterinarians will not say so much as hello unless they are paid $500 up front. (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.")

If the City Council had been willing to have done that along with revoking the HPD's authority to kill animals, the cat that Snoddy murdered might very well still be alive today. Also, in spite of the outrageous fees that veterinarians charge, the cat could have been treated for a fraction of what Harrisonburg is spending protecting Snoddy. Unfortunately, that is precisely the type of wrongheaded public policy that prevails when citizens allow crooks, liars, thieves, and cat killers to rule the political roost.

Based upon their total abdication of duty, Baugh and the members of City Council have shown themselves to be little more than barkers and flunkies for the HPD. "We just want to acknowledge that it is a story, and say in a public forum that it is something that the city is addressing," councilman Kai Degner gassed to WHSV-TV on November 23rd. (See "Harrisonburg City Council Still Discussing Cop Killing Cat Case.") "We have a lot of confidence in the city staff's ability to deal with it appropriately."

Suffice it to say, city council has done absolutely nothing to either protect cats or to reign in the HPD and make it accountable to the public. Its members accordingly are every bit as mendacious, derelict, and deceitful as Garst, Opp, Helvin, and the remainder of the crowd that runs the show in Harrisonburg.

On March 31st, Chief of Police Donald Harper retired. He had held that position since 1992 and spent the last forty-eight years of his life as a cop.

Fittingly enough, his last major act as chief of police was to reinstate Snoddy to patrol duty. After that, he hightailed it out of office.

Before he rode into the sunset, however, he paused for a few moments in order to chew the fat with the young sycophants at JMU. "Integrity is at the top of the list," he opined to The Breeze on April 2nd when asked to delineate the qualities needed in a good police chief. (See "Harrisonburg Police Chief Retires.") "You have to have integrity, honesty and the trust of the people you work with in the community. If you don't have that you're not going anywhere."

It is just too bad that the bitter irony contained in Harper's musings eludes most individuals because otherwise they surely would be splitting their sides with laughter. If he had been born a few years earlier, it is conceivable that he might have given the great comedians of yesteryear, such as Edgar Bergen and Laurel and Hardy, a run for their money.

Captain Dan Clayton will serve as interim chief until June 4th when stern-faced Stephen Monticelli of the police force in Columbia, Missouri, will take the helm. Before joining that unit, Monticelli was a member of the University of Missouri's Police Department. (See Columbia Daily Tribune, April 2, 2012, "Deputy Taking Police Job in Virginia.")

It used to be that even the major universities employed only a handful of security officers but now even rinky-dink schools have large police forces. That is in spite of the fact that college campuses of today are boring and sedate when compared with those of the wonderful, hell-raising 1960's.

With the universities now firmly entrenched in the right-wing establishment that pretty much signals the end of anything remotely resembling academic integrity. Lining their pockets, indoctrinating students, controlling the masses, and defaming and killing cats is just about all that any longer interests the so-called intelligentsia. (See Cat Defender post of July 18, 2011 entitled "Evil Professors Have Transformed College Campuses into Hotbeds of Hatred Where Cats Routinely Are Vilified, Horribly Abused, and Systematically Killed.")

Even more revolting than Snoddy's anticipated acquittal on June 7th is the fact that his defenseless victim has been reduced to little more than a footnote in this long-running carefully choreographed charade that masquerades as justice. For instance, almost nothing is known about the cat, not even its sex, color, and name. Also, since it was found in a residential area, it must have had a guardian who is either too uncaring or craven to even come forward and demand that it be given justice.

Since no one else is willing to do so, perhaps Meadows can be prevailed upon to be more forthcoming about this cat. In particular, if its remains have not been disposed of already, maybe he will take it upon himself to see that it receives a proper burial and a tombstone.

The entire legal and political system in Virginia has sold out just to protect a piece of garbage like Snoddy who belongs in jail instead of carrying a gun and wearing a badge. Since it treats cats as if their lives lacked any intrinsic value, it is hard to imagine that the impecunious, social outcasts, and minorities could possibly fare much better.

If the lazy rotters at the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in Washington cared anything about either the rule of law or equality under law they immediately would launch an investigation into Rockingham County's thoroughly corrupt legal and political establishment. For Snoddy not only to have gotten away scot-free with his heinous crime but to have been allowed to retain his job as well required the complicity of no less than the HPD, the mayor and city council of Harrisonburg, the Virginia State Bar, prosecutors Garst and Opp, and Helvin. Once round two is in the books, Alger, Lane, and twelve citizens of Rockingham County also will have become complicit in his crime.

The rulers in Harrisonburg are betting that cat-lovers will lose interest in this case and that Snoddy's crime will be all but forgotten by the time that his case comes to court on June 7th. Hopefully, they will be rudely disappointed about that.

Photos: Facebook (Alger), WVIR-TV of Charlottesville (Harper), and Columbia Daily Tribune (Monticelli).

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Adopted from a Shelter Only Hours Previously, Pudding Saves His Rescuer's Life by Awakening Her from a Diabetic Seizure


Pudding and Amy Jung

"He just really took right over. Really second nature. Anything he could to pull me out of it (the seizure). If something or someone hadn't pulled me out of that, I wouldn't be here."
-- Amy Jung

There is arguably nothing sadder and more unjust about the lot of cats than their inability to either speak or write. As a consequence, all but a handful of them live out their brief sojourns on this earth in obscurity and die unheralded and unknown except to perhaps an occasional appreciative owner. Even then very few owners ever really get much beyond a  superficial acquaintance with their beloved companions.

That is a shame because underneath their glossy coats beat long-suffering hearts that are noble, magnanimous, and truly beautiful. "These intelligent, peace-loving, four-footed friends -- who are without prejudice, without hate, without greed -- may someday teach us something," Lilian Jackson Braun once predicted.

One such great soul belongs to a nine-year-old orange and white cat named Pudding who lives with thirty-six-year-old Amy Jung and her son, Ethan, in the city of Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin. Life has not always been kind to him but throughout all the trials and tribulations he never once has either soured on life or become jaded.

Burn in July of 2003, he apparently had a home until February of 2008 when his owner dumped him at the Door County Humane Society (DCHS) because of an alleged allergic reaction to him. It does seem odd, however, that it would have taken that long for this condition to have manifested itself. The record is unclear but it is conceivable that he had more than one owner during this period of his life.

He was adopted again in April of 2008 but his new lease on life all but expired when his latest owner died in January of this year. So, it was back to DCHS where he was forced to bide his time by, inter alia, lounging on Executive Director Carrie Counihan's desk.

On February 8th, he was granted another reprieve when Jung and Ethan visited the shelter in order to play with the cats. Although they had not planned on bringing one home, they ultimately changed their minds and not only adopted Pudding but his pal, Wimsy, as well. Although Jung never has publicly stated what it was that prompted her abrupt change of heart, it was precisely that decision that ended up saving her life.

At around 11 p.m. that very evening she was fast asleep when she, a diabetic since age four, went into insulin shock. Unprompted, Pudding raced into her bedroom and jumped on top of her chest in a desperate attempt to awaken her.

When that failed to rouse her, he began swatting her in the face with his paw and biting her on the nose. That did the trick but Pudding's heroics for the evening were far from being finished.

Once the convulsions eased, Jung attempted to summon Ethan but he, like her only moments earlier, still was firmly enveloped in the Sandman's grasp. Without a moment to spare, the twenty-one-pound cat took it upon himself to race into Ethan's room where he soon awakened the young man by jumping in bed on top of him.

The chain of events that followed has not been explicitly detailed but suffice it to say that Jung belatedly received the emergency care that she needed and is alive today thanks to Pudding's heroics.

"He just really took right over. Really second nature," she told the Green Bay Press-Gazette on February 19th. (See "Sturgeon Bay Cat Saves Owner's Life.") "Anything he could to pull me out of it. If something or someone hadn't pulled me out of that I wouldn't be here."

Elijah

Pudding's dramatics  even astounded Counihan. "I think it's an amazing story, and I knew Pudding pretty well from his time at the shelter," she told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "...he was sensing something and reacting to it."

Upon the advice of her attending physician, Jung plans to register Pudding as therapy cat. Not having a scintilla of regard for bureaucratic red tape, Pudding already has assumed that post and now sits at Jung's feet in order to warn her whenever her blood sugar level is about to get out of kilter.

Whether or not his heroics and newfound importance in Jung's life ultimately will be sufficient in order to put an end to his being bandied about like the Flying Dutchman remains to be seen. It is difficult on a cat to be shunted between various homes and shelters and for this story to have a happy ending that stands the test of both time and morality Pudding's needs must take center stage.

Some individuals heap all sorts of praise on their cats and utter declarations of undying love only to turn around and initial their death warrants by surrendering them to shelters as soon as they become superfluous in their lives. Others kill off their companions without so much as a second thought once they become either elderly or sickly.

Even if Jung's gratitude should turn out to be as short-lived as yesterday's headlines, hopefully  DCHS will continue to watch out for Pudding and see to it that his life is held to be sacrosanct and that he never wants for any of the necessities of life. Of immediate concern is his obesity and there could not be any better way for Jung to demonstrate her appreciation to him than by putting him on a healthy diet and ensuring that he gets more exercise.

In spite of what many veterinarians and so-called feline experts profess, sterilizing cats, feeding them load after load of kibble, and imprisoning them indoors all of the time in horribly polluted environments hardly contributes to a healthy lifestyle. Responsible cat care involves considerably more than ensuring that veterinarians and cat food purveyors continue to make a mint.

In addition to saving his owner's life, Pudding's heroics have proven to be a boom  for DCHS. Once his story went viral on the World Wide Web, donations poured in from as far afield as Singapore and Brazil and Halo, Purely for Pets, Incorporated of Tampa donated five-thousand meals for cats and dogs through Mimi Ausland's web site, http://www.freekibble.com/.

"It's been a crazy month but one that has unfolded in such an unexpectedly happy way," DCHS stated in the winter issue of its in-house publication, Door Animals Quarterly. (See "Donations from Around the World Flow to Sturgeon Bay Honoring 'Pudding'.") "In extraordinary instances, an animal actually saves a life. Most often, our pets open more subtle doors to a better, fuller, healthier, funnier life."

That is just one more reason why Pudding is richly entitled to spend what is left of his golden years in a stable home environment. His uncanny ability to anticipate and to respond to diabetic seizures coupled with the way in which he has been able to touch so many people all over the globe are two additional reasons that both individuals and institutions should think long and hard before extinguishing the life of any cat.

Although both Jung's unidentified physician and Counihan expressed surprise at Pudding's heroics, it long has been known that cats are capable of anticipating sugar imbalances in diabetics. Some of these cats have been specifically trained for that task but in Tampa a now five-year-old orange and white one named Elijah apparently trained himself.

In an early history that mirrors that of Pudding, he used to reside with a woman who suffered from both diabetes and sleep apnea but when she died he wound up at the SPCA's notorious killing factory in Lakeland. (See Cat Defender post of  May 11, 2006 entitled "Mass Murderers at SPCA Are Operating an Auschwitz for Cats and Dogs in Lakeland, Florida.")
Blackie and Charles Bennett

Bailed off of death row by veterinary nurse Peter Shute, Elijah now forestalls diabetic seizures by sniffing his owner's breath several times a day for either an excess or a deficit of ketones. Like Pudding, he meows if something is amiss.

"I know that if I run into trouble that he is going to do something," Shute said in 2009. "He's got a job. He knows what he is doing and he does it."

Not only is it preferable to prevent diabetic seizures as opposed to being forced to react to them, but cats like Elijah and Pudding have the potential to greatly reduce the necessity for frequent blood tests. "I may not be stabbing my finger anymore," Shute added. "I may just have Elijah come up and tell me I'm okay."

Since cats are somewhat easier to care for than dogs, employing them in order to detect blood sugar problems is perhaps a better alternative for the elderly and disabled. Their expertise in this area also might prompt some shelters to spare a few more of their lives. (See Cat Defender post of May 18, 2009 entitled "Elijah Teaches Himself How to Detect Low Blood Sugar Levels in His Guardians and Others.")

Furthermore, the ability of cats to anticipate seizures is by no means limited to diabetic attacks. For instance, in Albany, Oregon, a former stray named Blackie lies awake at night monitoring the breathing patterns of his guardian, Charles Bennett, for emphysema attacks.

"I don't know if he's helped save my life or not, but he's saved me from some full-blown breathing attacks," Bennett declared in 2009. (See Cat Defender post of April 18, 2009 entitled "Blackie Stays Up Nights Monitoring His Guardian's Breath for Emphysema Attacks.")

"Cats have many gifts that are denied humans, and yet we tend to rate them by human standards," Braun wrote in 1966 in her first novel, The Cat Who Could Read Backwards. "To understand a cat, you must realize that he has his own gifts, his own viewpoint, even his own morality. A cat's lack of speech does not make him a lower animal. Cats have a contempt of speech. Why should they talk when they can communicate without words? They manage very well among themselves, and they patiently try to make their thoughts known to humans. But in order to read a cat, you must be relaxed and receptive."

Taking into consideration all the abuse and misuse that man makes of language, it could be argued that he would be less domineering and imperialistic if he lacked the faculty of speech. In Plato's Phaedrus, Socrates relates a story about the ancient Egyptian god Theuth who is said to have  invented, inter alia, arithmetic, calculus, geometry, astronomy, draughts, dice and, most importantly of all, letters.

He then brought these inventions to the attention of the god Thamus who also served as king of Egypt. The wise Thamus praised some of them but was especially critical of letters. "For this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to external written characters and not remember of themselves," he said. "The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality."

When his interlocutors scoffed at this tale, Socrates added: "He would be a very simple person, and quite a stranger to the oracles of Thamus and Ammon, who should leave in writing or receive in writing any art under the idea that the written word would be intelligible or certain; or who deemed that writing was at all better than knowledge and recollection of the same matters?" (Benjamin Jowett's translation.)

As civilization has evolved, Thamus's concerns have been more than amply borne out by both history and experience. "Language was our (man's) secret weapon, and as soon as we got language we became a really dangerous species," biologist Mark Pagel of the University of Reading told The New York Times on April 15, 2011. (See "Ancient Clicks Hint Language Is African-Born.")

Be that as it may, since cats and other animals cannot speak for themselves, someone must do so not only in order to give them some chance, no matter how small, of surviving but also to level the playing field. It would be far better still if mankind could be prevailed upon to appreciate them and Mother Earth more so than they do money and television but that is not about to happen anytime soon and the sand is fast running out of the hourglass.

Photos: Tina M. Gohr of the Green Bay Presse-Gazette (Pudding and Jung), John McQuiston of Zootoo (Elijah), and David Patton of the Democrat-Herald of Albany (Blackie and Bennett).

Friday, April 20, 2012

Grateful for Being Provided with a Loving Home, Fidge in Turn Saves Her Mistress's Life by Alerting Her to a Malignant Growth on Her Breast

Fidge and Wendy Humphreys



"She (Fidge) saved my life, definitely. No hesitation at all. I was told that if I hadn't been diagnosed when I was I could have died because of the hormones in the menopause. I am so glad I got her."
-- Wendy Humphreys



When fifty-two-year-old Wendy Humphreys of Wroughton, six kilometers south of Swindon in Wiltshire, acquired an eight-week-old black and white kitten named Fidge in May of last year little did she suspect that such a simple act of compassion would turn out to be the principal reason that she is alive today.

"She kept coming and sitting on my right breast when I was lying on the settee. She would jump onto it every night for a fortnight," Humphreys related to the Swindon Advertiser on January 23rd. (See "My Cat Saved My Life.")  "I went to see my GP (general practitioner) because I thought it was bruised. It just hurt and I didn't think anything else could be wrong."

Tragically, her physician discovered a pea-sized lump in her breast that was diagnosed in September to be malignant. Since then she has undergone chemotherapy and was scheduled to have had the breast removed at the end of March.

Although her long-term prognosis has not been publicly disclosed, her illness certainly has not in any way diminished her will to live. "The chemo is hard and I'm dreading having my breast removed," she admitted to the Swindon Advertiser. "But I am going to beat it, definitely."

As if she needed any additional incentives, her daughter has learning difficulties and therefore needs her to stick around for a while. She also has another child and her husband of thirty-two years, David, to consider.

Regardless of what the future holds in store for her, a little part of her heart forever will belong to Fidge. "She saved my life, definitely. No hesitation at all," she declared to the Swindon Advertiser in the article cited supra. "I was told that if I hadn't been diagnosed when I was I could have died because of the hormones in the menopause. I am so glad I got her."

Despite having once saved her mistress's life, Fidge instinctively knows that she must remain vigilant. "She goes around on your shoulder and on your back and none of the other cats have done that," Humphreys told the Swindon Advertiser. "She never leaves me alone. Every morning she jumps up and makes sure I'm all right."
 
Sumo and Judy Danchura

Eternally grateful, Humphreys strives to make Fidge's life as comfortable as possible. "We have given her plenty of food and toys and everything," she told the Swindon Advertiser. "(But) giving them (cats) love and loyalty is enough. Not all animals have that."

Despite her appreciation for what Fidge has done for her, Humphreys nonetheless remains flummoxed. "I just couldn't believe it because I didn't think cats were capable of that," she admitted. "I thought it was only dogs."

First of all, no one ever should underestimate a cat. Secondly, there is a substantial body of anecdotal evidence that cats indeed are capable of detecting cancer in individuals that they are in close contact with on a daily basis.

For example, in June of 2009 Judy Danchura of Winnipeg opened up her heart and home to an orange and white vagabond named Sumo. Hours later, he stepped on her bosom while climbing into the sack with her.

Besides making himself right at home, his pussyfooting unleashed a sharp pain in her bosom and when she examined it the next morning she found a lump. Although the growth turned out to be malignant, her physicians have given her a ninety-five per cent chance of surviving. 

"I don't know what my chances of survival would have been without him," she said later in 2010. "I know I'd certainly be far worse off." Like Humphreys, she too is forever indebted to the cat that she now refers to as her furry, four-footed angel. "I sometimes feel overwhelmed because I feel humbled," she confessed. "I can't understand why this animal turned up for me." (See Cat Defender post of March 27, 2010 entitled "Taken In Off the Street by a Compassionate Woman, Sumo Returns the Favor by Alerting Her to Cancerous Growth on Her Bosom.")

Women long have been known to dote on cats whereas men have not always been anywhere near quite so favorably disposed toward them. Cats do not harbor either grudges or prejudices in their magnanimous souls and as a result they do not restrict their life-saving heroics to the tender gender.

Tiger

 Doubters need only to ask fifty-nine-year-old Lionel Adams of Calgary who for some time had resided with an eight-year-old orange cat named Tiger. Their relationship, however, was not an especially close one.

"He never had that much to do with me except to come over for a pat," is how he characterized their relationship. All of that abruptly changed in 2009 when Tiger alerted him to the presence of a large tumor on one of his lungs.

 "He would climb into bed and take his paw and drag it down my left side," Adams explained. "He was adamant there was something there. And it was right where the cancer was."

Since that terrible time, Adams and Tiger have become a much closer couple. "I get a little emotional when I think about it," he later confessed. "As far as I am concerned, he saved my life. I think if he hadn't done that pawing part it could have gone on for another five, six months undetected." (See Cat Defender post of April 11, 2009 entitled "Tiger Saves His Owner's Life by Alerting Him to a Cancerous Growth on His Lung.")

With any type of cancer, early detection is the key to survival and that is why living with a cat oftentimes is more valuable than either annual x-rays or periodic examinations by a physician. Cohabiting with a cat that engages in considerable pawing and breath sniffing can, however, be a little disconcerting.

That is especially the case if the cat in question is Oscar at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island. (See Cat Defender posts of July 30, 2007 and Mary 27, 2010 entitled, respectively, "A Visit from Oscar the Cat Means the Grim Reaper Cannot Be Far Behind for the Terminally Ill at Rhode Island Nursing Home" and "When Lovers, Friends, Health, and All Hope Have Vanished, Oscar Is There for Those Who Have No One and Nothing Left.")

Various explanations have been advanced over the years as to how cats are able to detect various diseases and even imminent death. The most plausible of which attributes their uncanny ability to their vastly superior senses. In other words, they apparently are able to smell diseases, detect abnormal growths, and to recognize irregularities in breathing and blood sugar.

Lionel Adams

 As to why they go out of their way in order to alert their owners that something is wrong, some have theorized that they are acting solely out of self-interest. That may not necessarily be the entire story because it is just as likely that they are motivated by genuine concern and compassion. After all, just because altruism is in such short supply with men and women, it does not necessarily follow that the same is true of cats.

Others maintain that cats simply are psychic. Although never substantiated, that belief is as old as at least the Middle Ages and as modern as today.

"Cats are a mysterious kind of folk. There is more passing in their minds than we are aware of," Sir Walter Scott, writing in the early nineteenth century, maintained. "It comes no doubt from their being so familiar with warlocks and witches."

Although not too many contemporaries share Scott's sottise about cats and the occult, that prejudice stubbornly persists in some quarters. (See Cat Defender posts of February 26, 2009 and February 27, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Dog Groomer Who Sold Mutilated Gothic Kittens on the Internet Is Finally Identified and Ordered to Stand Trial" and "Sweet Valley Mutilator Is Convicted of Piercing the Ears, Necks, and Tails of Tiny Kittens That She Later Sold on eBay.")

Just as importantly, detecting diseases that physicians often have overlooked is only half of the equation. Some research tends to suggest that just living with a cat, inter alia, lowers blood pressure, improves heart health, eases stress, and prolongs life. (See U.S. News and World Report, February 21, 2008, "Cats Help Shield Owners from Heart Attack.")

It also is believed by some that there are discernible health benefits to be derived from being kindhearted and thankful and those certainly are two prominent character traits that Humphreys, Danchura, and Adams share in common. So, perhaps there is some truth in Plato's assertion that virtue is its own reward.

To carry the argument to its logical conclusion, moral virtue, properly understood, is the glue that holds together all individual, animal, and environmental health. That, however, is the last thing in this world that capitalists, imperialists, and consumers ever want to hear.

Photos: Swindon Advertiser (Fidge and Humphreys), CBC (Sumo and Danchura) and CTV (Tiger, Adams).


Friday, April 13, 2012

Serial Killer Who Freezes the Corpses of Cats and Dogs in Blocks of Ice and Then Exhibits Them on His Neighbors' Lawns Is on the Loose in Dawson Creek


"It is absolutely appalling that a cruel incident like this would occur once, but to have it happen again in the same neighborhood is extremely upsetting."
-- Marcie Moriarty of the BC SPCA


"The mind of man is capable of anything -- because everything is in it; all the past as well as the future," Joe Conrad wrote in his celebrated 1903 novel, Heart of Darkness. When it comes to the abhorrent mistreatment of animals, however, the minds of some individuals contain nothing but unadulterated evil.

In tiny Dawson Creek in northeast British Columbia (BC), for example, there is a cold-blooded, calculating monster on the loose who is getting his kicks by killing cats and dogs and then freezing their corpses in blocks of ice. As proud as punch of his devilry and passionately craving the public's acclaim, he then appropriates the lawns at the Mile Zero Mobile Home Park, located at 9117 Seventh Street, as his de facto art gallery in order to brazenly exhibit his victims.

His latest atrocity was discovered around noon on March 13th and contained the body a dark-colored cat of unspecified gender. Since the block of ice also contained considerable blood, the cat without a doubt was brutally killed and possibly even tortured before being entombed. A necropsy has been ordered but, as best it could be determined, the results of which have not been made public.

Given the size and shape of the block of ice, it appears that the murderer first killed the cat and then placed its body inside a large rubber trash can before adding water. He then either placed it inside a large freezer or left it outside overnight to harden in the near-zero degrees Fahrenheit temperatures that the region experienced on that date. (See photos of the cat above and below.)

"It is absolutely appalling that a cruel incident like this would occur once, but to have it happen again in the same neighborhood is extremely upsetting," Marcie Moriarty of the SPCA said March 14th in a press release. (See "BC SPCA Seeks Public's Help in Solving Shocking Case of Animal Cruelty.")

By that oblique reference she is referring to the corpse of a medium-sized black dog that also was discovered entombed in a block of ice only a stone's throw away on January 15, 2011. (See photo of it further down the page.)

In that unsettling case, the unidentified resident of the trailer park who made the grisly discovery later pleaded ignorance to both the identity of the dog and why it was deposited on his lawn. A necropsy was ordered but, as is the case with the cat, the results have not been posted on the SPCA's web site. (See BC SPCA press release of January 25, 2011, "Animal Cruelty Officers Seek Help in Solving Bizarre Case in Dawson Creek.")

Despite the simply horrific nature of the murders of this cat and dog and the known causal link that exists between animal abusers and serial killers, there is absolutely nothing in the public record to even hint that the SPCA is seriously investigating either case. Instead, the public is being fed the standard fare of shock and moral indignation.

"Realistically, in my seven years in this position, I haven't seen anything like this," Moriarty exclaimed to Toronto's Globe and Mail on March 14th of this year. (See "Cat in BC Found Frozen in Block of Ice.") "You see some sick things and this is definitely concerning."

She insists, however, that her agency is serious about solving these cases. "This is not a joke, this is not a prank," she added to the Globe and Mail. (See photo of her on the left below with a black and white dog.)

The SPCA's offer of rewards and appeals to the public for information have not, predictably, borne fruit. "Unfortunately, no one came forward with info regarding last year's case but we are hoping that someone in Dawson Creek knows something that will help us identify the individual responsible in this new incident so that we can seek justice and ensure that a sickening crime like this does not happen again," Moriarty stated in the March 14th press release cited supra.

Time and time again it has been demonstrated that declarations of moral outrage, offers of minuscule reward money, and appeals to a largely apathetic public for information are virtually worthless when it comes to solving animal cruelty cases. If the police treated offenses against individuals and property in the same lackadaisical fashion that humane groups deal with animal abuse, the most probable result would be widespread mayhem.

Only good old-fashioned detective work can solve crimes of this nature and the SPCA's intransigence demonstrates writ large that it is a good-for-nothing organization. The same can be equally said for the slackers at the RCMP and their refusal to intervene.

Any even remotely serious investigation into the deaths of these two totally innocent animals would include, at the bare minimum, door-to-door interviews of all residents of the trailer park. Should that fail to produce any positive results, the residents should be hauled into headquarters and interrogated one-on-one.

The SPCA also needs to become more proactive by patrolling not only the trailer park itself but various neighborhoods in and around Dawson Creek. Since it obviously cannot be everywhere all the time, it should install hidden surveillance cameras inside the park.

The frozen ground nearby where the victims were found should have been closely examined for tire tracks and impressions taken of all that were found. The fur of both animals should have been combed for forensic evidence as well as samples taken of all substances found underneath their claws.

DNA samples also should have been collected and stored so that they could be compared with those taken from any future victims. Above all, close-up photographs of the cat and dog, without their frozen shrouds, should have been published in the media and circulated throughout Dawson Creek and surrounding communities.

The SPCA supposedly had the bon sens to scan the animals for implanted microchips and found none. That also likely would preclude the possibility that they came from shelters in that it is rare nowadays for homeless cats and dogs to be sold back to the public without them.

Nevertheless, it would be a good idea to double-check with shelters as well as to interview all local cat and dog breeders. Any notices offering free kittens, cats, puppies, and dogs to the public, whether listed in newspapers or on billboards, should be given close scrutiny.

In spite of its pleas of helplessness, the SPCA already knows a great deal about the perpetrator. Since the killer is unlikely to be either a woman or a child, that reduces the number of potential suspects amongst Dawson Creek's eleven-thousand-five-hundred-eighty-three residents by approximately two-thirds. Unless he is a loner, then someone surely knows his identity and is shielding him.

Secondly, he obviously has the means, financial and otherwise, in order to procure cats and dogs. Thirdly, he owns a vehicle of some sort along with either a residence or a place of employment that has rubber trash cans and, possibly, even a large freezer.

Fourthly, he obviously has the leisure in order to plan and execute his diabolical crimes. That fact alone would tend to eliminate as suspects most men who have full-time jobs and families.

Although it is by no means a certainty, the culprit may not reside at the trailer park but rather simply dumps his victims there as a red herring designed to divert suspicion away from him and his actual abode. After all, it is not uncommon for residents of such facilities to be erroneously stereotyped as "trailer park trash."

The only other obvious reason for selecting the trailer park would be to repay a vendetta against either its management or one or more of its tenants. It is even conceivable that he could be a former tenant. That is, admittedly, a long shot but it still might be worthwhile for the SPCA to explore it nonetheless.

Ultimately, the SPCA may be forced into expanding its investigation beyond not only the trailer park itself but Dawson Creek as well. If it does not get on the ball and make some progress soon, however, it may be necessary for pet detectives, bounty hunters, and other concerned individuals to take action.

Although British Columbia has a reputation as an idyllic place both to live and visit, a spate of recent animal cruelty cases has revealed a far darker side of the province. On March 6th, for instance, a three-year-old tortoiseshell named Libby was found buried alive in Squamish. (See Cat Defender post of April 4, 2012 entitled "Buried Alive in a Culvert for Weeks Without Food and Very Little Water, Libby Is Rescued Battered and Bruised but, Thankfully, Alive.")

Back in 2010, an assailant in the Vancouver suburb of New Westminster killed Harley by dipping him in turpentine. (See Cat Defender posts of July 30, 2010 and August 30, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Harley Suffers Severe Burns to His Tongue and Mouth as Well as Lung Damage after He Is Deliberately Dunked in Turpentine" and "Hope, Prayer, and Veterinary Intervention Ultimately Prove to Be Insufficient in Order to Save Harley after He Is Deliberately Dunked in Turpentine.")

When the police in New Westminster categorically refused to even investigate Harley's murder, a cat named Vincent also was dunked in turpentine shortly thereafter. (See Cat Defender post of January 3, 2011 entitled "Another Cat, Vincent, Is Dunked in Turpentine in New Westminster as the Police and Animal Control Continue to Laugh Up Their Dirty Sleeves.")

Kill traps are another huge problem throughout the province. (See Cat Defender posts of August 18, 2005 and December 24, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Brave Orange Tabby Cat Dubbed Hopalong Cassidy Loses a Limb to a Leghold Trap in British Columbia" and "A Cat Named Trapper Falls Victim to Another Rusty Leghold Trap in British Columbia.")

Even when ailurophobes are not abusing and killing cats, birds of prey take a heavy toll on the species. (See Cat Defender posts of February 16, 2012 and July 31, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Hawk Suffers Puncture Wounds to His Stomach and One Paw When He Is Abducted by a Raptor Hired to Patrol a City Dump on Vancouver Island" and "Fifteen-Year-Old Cat Named Bamboo Miraculously Survives Being Abducted and Mauled by a Hoot Owl in British Columbia.")

As abysmally as cats are treated in British Columbia, the unspeakable abuse meted out to dogs is even far worse. For example, between April 21st and 23rd in 2010 Robert Fawcett, general manager of Howling Dog Tours in Whistler, single-handedly either shot in the head or slit the throats of one-hundred perfectly healthy Siberian Huskies which he later buried in a mass grave. Although he was raking in £200 for a three-hour sled ride during the 2010 Winter Olympics in nearby Vancouver, the dogs became redundant once the games ended. (See photo below of him and his dogs waltzing around a pair of tourists too lazy to walk.)

Far too cheap and greedy to continue feeding and housing them, Fawcett attempted to get a local veterinarian to kill them but when he was rebuffed he turned to the BC SPCA which refused to take in the dogs. "Why does it suddenly become a humane society's issue because (a company) decided they (sic) want to unload a dog?" Moriarty bellyached to the Calgary Sun on February 2, 2011. (See "SPCA Drawn into Husky Controversy.") "It's not acceptable to make money off them and then dump them. We are not here to take people's unwanted animals."

That certainly is a revealing statement for an employee of the BC SPCA to utter. Au contraire, most members of the general public have been led to believe, falsely as it turns out, that taking in homeless animals is precisely the mandate of the BC SPCA and other so-called humane groups.

By contrast, Animal Control in Calgary and the Calgary Humane Society have policies in situ that preclude them from turning away unwanted animals under any circumstances. The difference between Calgary and the BC SPCA is largely semantic, however, in that all traditional shelters kill just about all cats that they impound and a majority of the dogs.

It also would appear from her own declarations that Moriarty would not have had a problem with this en masse liquidation if it had been carried out by a bona fide knacker. "Slaughterhouses have very strict rules for how supposed culling takes place," she told the Daily Mail on February 1, 2011. (See "Pack of One-Hundred Huskies Shot and Knife to Death Before Being Tossed in a Mass Grave by Tour Operator Trying to Save Money.") "This violated every one of them."

She, quite obviously, has either little or no regard for the sanctity of life. What she and other who think like her fail to realize is that the moral transgression lies not in the method employed in order to snuff out a life, but rather in the taking of life itself.

Despite Moriarty's anti-life rhetoric, the BC SPCA and the provincial government ultimately did allocate C$225,000 in order to exhume the bodies of at least fifty-six of the dogs in May of 2011. (See Daily Mail, May 3, 2011, "War Game Experts Exhume Bodies of One-Hundred (sic) Sled Dogs Killed by Tour Operator in Post Winter Olympics Massacre.")

In September of last year, the SPCA handed over thousands of pages of evidence that it had collected against Fawcett to crown prosecutors but, as far as it is known, no charges have been filed against him. (See Macleans, October 27, 2011, "Whistler's Sled Dog Massacre.")

For what it is worth, Outdoor Tours, which owns Howling Dog Tours of Whistler, has pledged to in the future inveigle veterinarians into killing off its unwanted dogs for it. Besides being morally repugnant in itself, there is reason for skepticism because bullets to the head long have been the preferred method that mushers have used in order to dispose of their unwanted dogs and, with that being the case, it is highly unlikely that these predatory capitalists now are going to be willing to pay a veterinarian to do what they can do considerably cheaper themselves with a firearm.

More poignantly, the naked exploitation and extirpation of sled dogs is so endemic and widespread across Canada that Fawcett's atrocities more than likely would have gone unreported if he had not had the unmitigated gall to apply for a disability pension from WorkSafeBC. On January 25, 2011, Allan Wotherspoon of the agency approved his claim on the grounds that he was suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder brought on by his killing spree. In particular, Fawcett claimed to be afflicted with nightmares, panic attacks, and depression.

CKNW AM980 of Vancouver shortly thereafter discovered a heavily-censored copy of Fawcett's disability claim on the web site of an unidentified lawyer and in turn forwarded it to the SPCA. Even then, that did not occur until nine months after the mass slaughter.

Fawcett most likely was lying through his teeth because it is difficult to believe that anyone who would commit such atrocities possibly could have anything remotely resembling a conscience. Even if he should be relating a semblance of the unvarnished truth, he, like America's imperialist soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who have made similar claims, only received a small measure of what he deserved in retribution.

"I've no doubt he has suffered posttraumatic stress, but there is a thing called choice," Moriarty, in one of the saner moments, told the Calgary Herald on February 1, 2011. (See "Canmore Firms Shocked by Slaughter of One-Hundred Sled Dogs in Whistler, British Columbia.") "I absolutely would not have done this and he could have said no, this is a Criminal Code offense, and to have just stopped. I don't feel sorry for this guy for one minute."

WorkSafeBC's decision to reward Fawcett for his heinous crimes stands in stark juxtaposition to how the American judicial system treated serial canine exploiter and killer, Michael Vick. He at least was forced to serve twenty-one months in prison for killing, most likely, hundreds of pit bulls that he previously had nakedly abused in the operation of an interstate dog fighting ring. Over the strenuous objections of both PETA and the Humane Society of the United States, who wanted the surviving dogs to be immediately killed, United States District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson of Richmond, who later was destined to become the first jurist to strike down Obama's new health care law, instead wisely fined Vick $1 million which he set aside for the care and rehabilitation of his dogs.

At last report, the lives of all but two of the fifty or so dogs seized from Vick's compound had been spared. Some of them have been adopted while others live at sanctuaries. A few of them even are gainfully employed as therapy dogs. (See New York Post, October 3, 2010, "Fighting the Past: Michael Vick's Fight Dogs Find True Homes.")

It would be unfair, however, to label Canadians as the only ones who abuse sled dogs. The Iditarod, which covers more than a thousand miles between Anchorage and Nome, is run each March and it claims the lives of numerous huskies either during the race itself or in the training that leads up to it.

Yet, these atrocities seldom even are reported by the capitalist media. In fact, veterinarian Elizabeth Cohen extolled the virtues of both the race itself and the life of a sled dog in a totally outrageous piece of propaganda that she delivered for her paymasters at WCBS AM880 in Manhattan on February 13, 2011. (See photo of her and her dog, Allie, directly above.)

Even someone as callous as Moriarty has considerably more integrity than that. "There is a problem with the sled dog industry in general. People see these twenty sled dogs, an idyllic setting with snow in the background and think 'how great'!" she explained to the Calgary Herald in the article cited supra. "But what they don't see is the two-hundred dogs tethered and sleeping out back, chained to a barrel."

In another scurrilous report delivered for WCBS-AM on July 3, 2011, Cohen recommended that anti-anxiety drugs be administered to pets frightened by thunderstorms. That is in spite of the fact that as a veterinarian she knows just how dangerous it is to prescribe drugs to cats and dogs. Besides, there are numerous non-hazardous alternatives, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, that do a much better job of desensitizing animals to loud noises.

Anyone who either has read Jack London's novels about sled dogs or been thrilled by the exploits of Yukon King on the old radio show, "Challenge of the Yukon," readily can appreciate the value of these dogs. (Thanks to the invention of the web, these timeless shows now are available gratis at www.otr.net, Internet Archive, and elsewhere online.)

These wonderful dogs, who for way too long have been shamelessly abused, nakedly exploited, and then rewarded for their hard work and loyal service with bullets to the head, deserve decidedly far better than what they currently are receiving on either side of the Canadian-American divide. Above all, they have the right to live long and full lives and never should be harmed under any circumstances.

The total disregard for the sanctity of animal life exhibited by some residents of British Columbia coupled with the appalling do-nothing attitude of the SPCA has placed the welfare of all cats and dogs residing in the province in grave jeopardy. This is especially the case for those currently living in Dawson Creek.

The individual responsible for killings the cat and dog desperately needs to be apprehended and permanently removed from society for the sake of not only other felines and canines but the the general public as well. Unfortunately, the total unwillingness of citizens to demand that the authorities act does not portray them in a favorable light either.

Photos: BC SPCA (cat,dog, and Moriarty), Whistler Dogsleding via The Gazette of Montreal (Fawcett), and WCBS-AM (Cohen).

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Buried Alive in a Culvert for Weeks Without Food and with Very Little Water, Libby Is Rescued Battered and Bruised but, Thankfully, Alive

Libby

"We received an urgent call from a District of Squamish employee who happened to be in the area and noticed that the culvert had been deliberately blocked off with wood, brick, and rocks. Inside was the terrified cat."
-- Marika Donnelly of the Squamish Valley Branch of the BC SPCA

As Edgar Allan Poe poignantly demonstrated in his celebrated 1846 short story, "The Cask of Amontillado," the prospect of being either walled up or buried alive is nothing short of terrifying. In Victorian England, for example, that fear apparently was so prevalent that some individuals insisted upon being laid out in coffins equipped with bells on top that could be rung by a cord from inside should they revive before being interred. At least that is what Michael Crichton reported in his 1975 historical novel, The Great Train Robbery.

Unfortunately for some cats, such a cruel fate is often more than just a scary story. For example, sometime in, most likely, February a three-year-old tortoiseshell named Libby was sealed up in a five-foot-long culvert that was only eight inches wide in the Brackendale section of Squamish in British Columbia.

It was not until 9 a.m. on March 6th that she was discovered by an unidentified public employee who notified the Squamish Valley Branch of the British Columbia SPCA. "We received an urgent call from a District of Squamish employee who happened to be in the area and noticed that the culvert had been deliberately blocked off with wood, brick, and rocks," Marika Donnelly of the SPCA related in a March 9th press release. (See "BC SPCA Seeks Public's Help after Cat Is Left to Die in Culvert.") "Inside was the terrified cat."

The SPCA rushed to the culvert, located adjacent to the Squamish city dump, but it still took the agency three hours in order to corral Libby in a live trap. Near death due to a prolonged lack of food and water, she was given fluids in order to help alleviate her dehydration and placed on a heating pad in order to elevate her body temperature.

She also either had been beaten before she was entombed or injured herself while trying to escape. "We suspect that she may have been abandoned in the densely wooded area for some time before she was discovered because she has severe hair loss on sixty per cent of her body and is covered in scabs and open wounds," Donnelly told the Squamish Chief on March 9th. (See "'Emaciated' Cat Found Barricaded Inside Culvert.")

At last report, she was putting on weight and it now looks as if she is going to live. "She was extremely frightened and stressed, but once we took her into care, her demeanor totally changed," Donnelly added to the Squamish Chief. "She is friendly and loving and seemed so grateful to see friendly faces."

Nevertheless, it was an awfully close call for Libby in that her weight had plummeted to only six pounds by the time that she was discovered. On a scale used by some veterinarians in order to evaluate the health of a cat, she scored only a 1.5. (A score of one indicates emaciation while a rating of nine is reserved for those that are considered to be obese.)

Once she regains her health, her wounds heal, and her fur grows back the SPCA has pledged to try and find her a new home. After all that she has been through it would be nothing short of criminal should the organization ultimately decide to kill her.

"We are so glad that she is now in care and getting the treatment she needs and deserves," is as forthcoming as Donnelly was willing to be in the press release cited supra. "She has a wonderful, feisty attitude and a ravenous appetite so we are hopeful that she will make a full recovery and that someone will come forward to offer her a home."

Typically, no arrest has been made and none is expected. That is in spite of the fact that she obviously had a previous owner who not only socialized her but tried to kill her as well.

If the SPCA is to be faulted in any way it is for its lack of candor. "I am just baffled as to why anyone would deliberately leave a beautiful cat to die like that," Donnelly wondered aloud to the Squamish Chief in the article cited supra.

First of all, dumping unwanted cats at landfills appears from anecdotal evidence to be widespread in British Columbia and Donnelly surely is cognizant of that. (See Cat Defender post of February 16, 2012 entitled "Hawk Suffers Puncture Wounds to His Stomach and One Paw When He Is Abducted by a Raptor Hired to Patrol a City Dump on Vancouver Island.")

Secondly, burying cats and, especially, kittens alive is a rather commonplace all across the globe. For instance, on August 26, 2010 an unidentified couple out gathering mushrooms in Hindås, thirty-four kilometers east of Göteborg, discovered a trio of four-week-old kittens buried alive. Rescued in the nick of time, they were handed over to Kattstugan (Cat Cottage) in nearby Horred. (See Cat Defender post of September 11, 2010 entitled "Swedish Couple Out Gathering Mushrooms Unearths a Trio of Four-Week-Old Kittens Buried Alive in the Woods.")

Along about that same time a seven-month-old black and white kitten was stuffed in a basket, deposited in a hole alive, and then covered up with dirt and bricks in the Glen Top section of Stacksteads in the borough of Rossendale in Lancashire. Rescued by a trio of teenage girls, the kitten was given to the RSPCA in Oldham, Greater Manchester. (See Lancashire Telegraph, August 27, 2010, "Buried Alive Kitten Saved by Rossendale Teenagers.")

A five-year-old tom named Spud from Caerphilly, twelve kilometers outside of Cardiff, was not nearly so fortunate after he was bludgeoned over the head with a shovel and then buried alive in a garden at Maxton Court on the Lansbury Park Housing Estate on May 6, 2010. Because of the amount of grit and mud that had settled in his lungs, it is estimated that he was in the ground for hours before he was dug out.

Only by then it was too late to save him. (See South Wales Echo of Cardiff, May 27, 2010, "Cat Died after It Was Buried Alive" and Caerphilly News, May 27, 2010, "RSPCA Investigate (sic) Cat Buried Alive in Caerphilly Garden.")

The vast majority of unwanted cats and kittens are not buried alive in the conventional sense but rather are sealed up in bags and then deposited in trash cans. Such patently criminal behavior is, after all, pretty much the perfect crime. (See Cat Defender posts of October 3, 2009 and February 24, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Deliberately Entombed Inside a Canvas Bag for Six Days, Duff Is Saved by a Pair of Alert Maintenance Workers at an Apartment Complex in Spokane" and "Sealed Up in a Backpack Inside a Plastic Bag and Then Tossed in the Trash, Titch Is Rescued by a Passerby in Essex.")

Others either are sealed up in bags and boxes and left at the side of the road in order to be collected by garbagemen or deposited directly in Dumpsters. (See Cat Defender posts of February 25, 2010, July 3, 2009, and October 14, 2011 entitled, respectively, "Bess Twice Survives Attempts Made on Her Life Before Landing on All Four Paws at a Pub in Lincolnshire," "Pretty Little Sleepy Survives a Suffocation and Starvation Attempt on Her Life Thanks to the Timely Intervention of a Mattress Store Employee" and "Chucked Out in the Trash, Tabitha Winds Up in an Oxygen Chamber with Four Broken Ribs, an Injured Lung, and Pneumonia.")

Still other cats make it all the way to recycling centers before a few of them are saved at the last minute from being cut to bits. (See Cat Defender posts of August 23, 2007 and May 4, 2010 entitled, respectively, "An Alert Scrap Metal Worker Discovers a Pretty 'Penny' Hidden in a Mound of Rubble" and "Picked Up by a Garbage Truck Driver and Dumped with the Remainder of the Trash, Alfie Narrowly Misses Being Recycled.")

A few cats even have the notoriously bad luck of being accidentally exiled to city dumps by their thoughtless owners. (See Cat Defender post of March 23, 2009 entitled "Mistakenly Tossed Out with the Trash, Autumn Survives a Harrowing Trip to the City Dump in Order to Live Another Day.")

In the final analysis it does not make much difference whether a cat is buried alive, like Libby, or tossed out in the trash because it is just as dead whichever modus operandi is employed. Moreover, there can be little doubt that the number of cats and kittens who die from both methods each year is astronomical.

Accordingly, there is absolutely nothing bewildering about this entire sordid affair. Au contraire, what was done to Libby is every bit as mundane as death and taxes on the one hand and smelly feet and bad breath on the other hand. It is revolting, however, that humane groups, the police, and garbage haulers cannot be prevailed upon to take positive measures in order to end this senseless and needless sacrificing of feline lives.

Photo: Squamish Valley Branch of the BC SPCA.