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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

Monday, October 28, 2013

Slow to Recuperate from Life-Threatening Injuries Sustained in a Savage Mauling by an Unleashed Dog, Stubbs Announces His Intention to Step Down as Mayor of Talkeetna

Mayor Stubbs in His Office

"As you have read I don't think I will return to public life in the same manner as before. I had a great run and a very exciting life as mayor but it is time for Talkeetna to find a new mayor."
-- His Honor Mayor Stubbs

The recent news out of the tiny Alaskan town of Talkeetna was every bit as heartbreaking as it was shocking. The storybook relationship that the town, and the world for that matter, has had for the past sixteen years with its honorary mayor, Stubbs, is apparently nearing its end.

"As you have read I don't think I will return to public life in the same manner as before," His Honor announced October 18th on his Facebook page. "I had a great run and a very exciting life as mayor but it is time for Talkeetna to find a new mayor."

Even more distressing, Stubbs' abdication is a strong indication that his recovery from a savage dog attack on August 31st that left him knocking on death's door is not progressing as well as expected. Since his owner, fifty-four-year-old Laurie Stec of Nagley's Store, is not saying, the public has been left pretty much in the dark regarding his health but it does not take a clairvoyant to realize that his impending resignation could be anything but a positive omen.

"I am still recovering slowly but he (sic) has been able to make my way out to the front of the shop (Nagley's) and although not quite my old self I am feeling a bit better today," Stubbs confided in the Facebook posting. "I am still very stiff and hold close to Lori (sic) as I'm still a little jumpy around other animals and loud noises."

That is perfectly understandable in light of what recently happened to him. In fact, the attack was so ferocious and inflicted so much internal damage that it is nothing short of a miracle that the orange-colored, part-Manx tom is even still alive.

As best the grisly and horrifying story can be pieced together from various news accounts, Stubbs was on his way to get a dish of crabmeat at the Wildflower Cafe at 13578 East Main Street, which is only a short one- minute walk from Nagley's at 13650 East Main Street, when the unprovoked nighttime assault occurred. Notified by telephone at home by an unidentified party, Stec rushed to the vicinity of the attack and with considerable effort was able to eventually locate Stubbs bloodied and lying on the ground.

She then rushed him to Golden Pond Veterinary Services in Talkeetna where practitioner Jennifer Pironis was able to stanch the hemorrhaging and stabilize him. That was followed by a nightmarish ninety-six kilometer mad dash to the Big Lake Susitna Veterinary Hospital in Big Lake.

Stubbs was in such terrible shape that Pironis even brought along a jab of sodium pentobarbital in order to rob him of his precious life en route if his already dire condition had taken a sudden turn for the worst. Mercifully, that did not happen and her killing hand was stilled thus allowing the mayor to be safely delivered into the care of veterinarian Amy Lehman.

"I knew who he was when I got the call and so I knew who was coming, but I was never expecting this kind of circus to arise out of his being here," she later told KTUU-TV of Anchorage on September 5th. (See "Veterinarian Says Stubbs, Talkeetna's Cat Mayor, Lucky to Be Alive.") "But he's a cat, you know, so for me he's a patient and I'm treating him just like everybody else."

The extent of the mayor's internal injuries doubtlessly came as an even bigger shock to her than all the hoopla occasioned by having such an illustrious patient in her surgery. Specifically, he had a long, deep gash in his side that required twelve stitches to close.

He also had sustained a punctured lung, a fractured sternum, an unspecified number of broken ribs, and a bruised hip. The repairs, along with the insertion of a breathing tube, consumed three hours of Lehman's surgical expertise.

Stec, on the other hand, did not require a veterinary diagnosis in order to realize that the cat she had adopted sixteen years previously as a throwaway kitten was in bad shape; she could see that with her own two eyes. "The wound is deep, all the way into his ... you could see inside his body, and he had a punctured lung," she related to KVTA-TV of Anchorage on September 2nd. (See "Talkeetna's 'Mayor' Stubbs the Cat, Attacked by Dog.")

Thanks to Lehman's handiwork, Stubbs was back on his feet and eating on his own by September 5th. "That's a huge prognostic indicator for kitty cats that are in the hospital," Lehman told KTUU-TV in the article cited supra.

That also was the first time that Stec had been allowed to visit him since the night of the attack although it is far from certain that he even was aware of her presence due to the side effects of the painkillers and sedatives. "He's pretty out of it still," she told USA Today on September 7th. (See "Honorary Cat Mayor of Alaska Town Grabs Hearts Globally.") "His pupils were dilated. I could scratch his little ears until he fell asleep."

The Mayor and Laurie Stec

There likewise was not any conceivable way that Stec was able to conceal the profound loneliness that had enveloped her due to the mayor's long absence from home. "He sits in my office every day while I'm typing on my computer and, you know, keeps me company," she told KTUU-TV. "I miss him. We all miss him."

It was not until September 9th, however, that Lehman cleared Stubbs to return home. Initially, Stec confined him to a house that connects to Nagley's in the rear but after a few days she relocated him to his customary sleeping spot in a dogsled perched high atop a freezer inside the store itself. "He'll be with his pals," she told ABC News on September 10th in an oblique reference to the fox, caribou, beaver, and lynx furs that line the sled. (See "Honorary Feline Mayor Goes Home After Dog Attack.")

Once the severity of his injuries coupled with his advanced years (eighty in human terms) are taken into consideration, just making it out of the hospital was nothing short of a stupendous accomplishment in its own right. Nevertheless, his road to recovery was destined from the outset to be a long and arduous one that was going to include additional pain medication as well as frequent trips to the veterinarian.

Almost as importantly, the savage attack has placed in jeopardy the footloose and carefree lifestyle that he so cherishes. "He's going to have to curb back the social lifestyle for a few weeks, at least a month and a half, and we'll see how he's doing from that point on," Lehman told KTUU-TV. "It's going to take a long time for him to heal."

The outpouring of love and support from cat-lovers all around the world in wake of the attack has been nothing short of uplifting. "I'm getting cards and calls from Australia to Germany to fricking London to all over the lower forty-eight (states)," Stec told USA Today in the article cited supra.

9Lives® generously donated $3,000 to his veterinary care and Stec in turn has pledged that any leftover funds will be donated to Golden Pond and the Matanuska-Susitna Animal Shelter in Palmer. The cat food supplier's spokesperson, Morris, also sent Stubbs a get-well card via Facebook.

He also has received a package of organic catnip from an unidentified admirer in Canada who obviously is familiar with his indulgence in catnip-laced water from a wine glass at the West Rib Pub and Grill, which adjoins Nagley's. How long it will be, if ever, before he is seen once again bellying up to the bar and enjoying his favorite thirst-quencher is anybody's guess.

Not all of the public's reaction to the attack on Stubbs has been favorable to Stec, however. Some of her detractors have argued that she should have refused the donation from 9Lives® and instead paid the full veterinary tab out of her own pocket.

The bulk of the criticism has centered however on her policy of allowing Stubbs out into the mean streets of Talkeetna, which purportedly served as the model for the fictional town of Cicely in the 1990's CBS television show Northern Exposure, to roam unescorted and at all hours of both the day and night. "I'm even getting hate mail," she confided to KTUU-TV on September 9th. (See "Talkeetna's Honorary Cat Mayor Stubbs Gets PETA Care Package.")

Not about to be left out of the fun whenever there is either a cat or its owner to be disparaged and dragged through the mud, the no-good rotten feline defamers and mass murderers at PETA could not resist piling on and shoving in an unwanted oar. "Maybe he (the attacking dog) was a yellow-dog Democrat feeling disenfranchised in a town run by a fat cat from the Grand Old Purrty," is how the organization's Alisa Mullins tastelessly attempted to make light of the horrific attack in a September 10th press release. (See "Get Well Soon, Mayor Stubbs!")

Although the empty skulls at PETA, like many Americans, may revel in the shenanigans of the Democrats and Republicans, no self-respecting cat would touch either party or their self-serving policies with so much as a proverbial ten-foot pole. The same likely could be said for dogs as well.

The organization also sent Stubbs a cheap and tawdry care package that included a blanket, toys, herbal treats, and a copy of Ingrid Newkirk's 1998 anti-cat propaganda offering to the world, Two-Hundred-Fifty Things You Can Do to Make Your Cat Adore You. Accompany the organization's beau geste was a letter addressed to Stec from Alicia Woempner that amounted to little more than a crude rehash of its avid support for the American Bird Conservancy's cats indoors agenda.

"But cats can be perfectly happy running the world from the safety of an executive mansion, especially when provided with toys, scratching posts and 'trees,' catnip and cat grass, and large windows or screened porches from which to survey their domain," the press release and, presumably, the letter as well declared.

Stec wisely responded by telling the phony-baloney, totally dishonest, and unscrupulous organization exactly what it could do with its propaganda missive. "I will be closely monitoring him, but when he feels better, he will be let outside," she pledged to the Alaska Dispatch of Anchorage on September 10th. (See "Mayor Stubbs: Wily Alaska Cat's Vet Bills Paid by Another Well-Known Feline Named Morris.") "He's been roaming Talkeetna since he was a kitten. Caging him up inside would kill him."

Stubbs and His Horrific Injuries

In much the same fashion as a broken clock is said to be able to get the time correct twice a day, PETA in this particular instance did offer up one suggestion that is worthy of consideration. "...PETA is also urging Stubbs' 'chief of staff,' Lauri Stec... to prevent an untimely coup by advising Mayor Stubbs to stay closer to his 'office' from now on," the organization stated in the press release. "We recommend that, if he must leave for official business, he wear a leash and harness and be accompanied by a member of his entourage at all times."

Stec, however, has even rejected that modest proposal. "He's a loved cat, he's very well taken care of," she vowed to KVTA-TV of Anchorage on September 11th. (See "Contributions Pour in for Injured Cat 'Mayor' of Talkeetna.") "I'm not going to put him on a leash and I'm not going to put him on a harness."

The ultimate resolution to this extremely troubling dilemma likely will depend upon the level of Stubbs' recovery and even that is still very much in question. In particular, the point could be moot in that his health may not permit him to do very much roaming.

Regardless of that, two things seem to be clear. First of all, considering the large number of unleashed dogs that inexplicitly are allowed to roam the streets of Talkeetna, Stubbs should not be allowed outside under any circumstances without an escort. He does not necessarily need to be leashed and harnessed but someone should be watching over him.

Secondly, he should not be allowed out at night. If he wants to visit either the West Rib Pub and Grill or the Wildflower Cafe he should be provided with a chaperon.

All too often many individuals make the unforgivable mistake of failing to realize the true value of their cats until they are long gone and in Stubbs' case he is far too wonderful and valuable of a companion to be delivered up to vicious dogs on a silver platter. More to the point and as Stec is acutely aware, the mayor has had several close calls with disaster in the recent past.

In 2008, for example, he was shot in the rear by a group of evil teens armed with air guns. Sometime thereafter he unwittingly scampered aboard a garbage truck and as a result was transported to the outskirts of town before he finally was able to jump off and walk back home. Only last year he fell into a fryer at a local restaurant but luck was on his side on that occasion in that the appliance was cold and he thus was able to escape unscathed except for getting his fur soaked in oil.

Ailurophobes are another pressing concern and Talkeetna, like every other city on the planet, certainly has its share of them. "His biggest political rivals would be other local businesses that would hate that he comes over and takes a nap and leaves fur everywhere," Skye Farrar of Nagley's told the New York Daily News on July 17, 2012. (See "Cat Has Been Mayor of Alaska Town for Fifteen Years.") "They aren't big fans of him. We usually say, 'You have to deal with it. He runs the town'."

On such detractor is Patti Callen of the Mostly Moose Gift Shop at 13594 East Main Street. "He likes to hang out in here but we can't let him, because we can't sell cat hair shirts," she told The Wall Street Journal on October 15th. (See "Mayor of Alaskan Town Is a Cat.")

Wildlife advocates, such as local outdoor writer Peter Mathiesen and his unnamed wife, have a palpable dislike for Stubbs and, presumably, all cats as well. "My wife hates cats and gets totally creeped out eating at the pub (West Rib) with Stubbs," he candidly admitted to The Wall Street Journal.

Those sentiments are on a par with those expressed earlier this year by outdoor writer Ted Williams of the National Audubon Society when he advocated that cats be poisoned with Tylenol.® (See Cat Defender post of May 18, 2013 entitled "Ted Williams and the National Audubon Society Issue a Call for Cats to Be Poisoned with Tylenol® and Then Try to Lie Out of It.")

The hatchet job that outdoor writer Bruce Barcott did on cats with the full support and cooperation of the equally ailurophobic Sulzberger gang at The New York Times is yet still another poignant reminder of how individuals like him, Mathiesen, and Williams think and behave. (See Cat Defender post of December 8, 2007 entitled "All the Lies That Fit: Scheming New York Times Hires a Bird Lover to Render His 'Unbiased' Support for James M. Stevenson.")

In the best of all worlds, Hugh Chisholm's decision to provide Tuxedo Stan with a large, fenced-in yard known as Catopia would be the ideal solution for most cats. (See Cat Defender post of September 26, 2013 entitled "Former Halifax Mayoral Hopeful Tuxedo Stan Is Killed Off by His Owner after Chemotherapy Fails to Halt the Onslaught of Renal Lymphoma.")

Stubbs Grabbing Some Well-Deserved Kip

Stubbs' history, personality, and inclinations are far different from those of Stan however and because of that cooping him up indoors could prove to be detrimental to his health. As difficult as the task may be, Stec needs to arrive at some sort of a compromise that will allow Stubbs to continue to enjoy a measure of his former lifestyle while at the same time ensuring his safety and well-being.

As far as Newkirk's old tome is concerned, the best use that Stec could make of it would be as cheap fuel in order to ignite a blaze in her fireplace on cold Alaskan night. Although the urge must indeed be great, she must resist the temptation to use it as wiping paper.

Given the high acidity level of the contents, doing so would be almost certain to give her a case of the piles so severe that even a boxcar load of Preparation H® would be unable to assuage. If on the other hand she should elect to wade through it, she would be well advised beforehand to ignore Newkirk's sottise about transforming obligate carnivores, such as Stubbs, into vegetarians.

Much more importantly, she and everyone else need to always bear in mind that if PETA had discovered Stubbs covered in blood and near death on that fateful August night it would have killed him on the spot without so much as a second thought. (See Cat Defender post of October 7, 2011 entitled "PETA Traps and Kills a Cat and Then Shamelessly Goes Online in Order to Brag About Its Criminal and Foul Deed.")

That petit fait alone makes it the very epitome of hypocrisy for the organization to lecture Stec on how best to care for Stubbs. By choosing without a moment's hesitation to do everything in her power in order to save his life she has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that as a human being she is worth considerably more than all of Newkirk's more than two-million brainwashed acolytes combined.

For example, at its shelter in Norfolk, Virginia, the organization annually exterminates upwards of ninety-eight per cent of all the cats and dogs that it impounds. Not only bereft of anything even remotely resembling a moral conscience, the organization also is far too miserly to provide sick and injured animals with veterinary care and too lazy to secure homes for the remainder.

Plus, whenever it runs of cats and dogs of its won to annihilate it dispatches its deaths squads to shelters in North Carolina and elsewhere in order to collect and kill even more animals before disposing of their corpses in private trash cans. (See Cat Defender posts of January 29, 2007 and February 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in North Carolina Courtroom" and "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs.")

PETA according has squandered any right that it ever may have had to speak on behalf of cats and accordingly all of its pronouncements on the subject should be treated with profound skepticism. Moreover, whatever relevancy that it still may somehow enjoy it owes to the capitalist media which, likewise, never has done very much worthwhile for cats.

Not much information concerning the attack itself has surfaced other than that the assailant was a mixed-breed dog. Given the extent of Stubbs' injuries, however, it is safe to make a few deductions.

First of all, the dog surely must have been a rather large one that either ambushed Stubbs or ran him down on open ground. Otherwise Stubbs likely would have been able to escape by either fleeing or climbing to a higher place; as things turned out he, unfortunately, never stood much of a chance against such a savage foe.

Secondly, the attack quite obviously went on for some time and that calls into question the conduct of the dog's owner who could have deliberately sicced it on Stubbs. It also is conceivable that the owner belatedly called it off and that is what ultimately spared Stubbs' life.

Stec apparently knows both the dog and its owner and has filed a complaint with Animal Control officers at the Matanuska-Susitna Animal Shelter but no arrest has been made. Moreover, it is extremely doubtful that the officers have so much as even cursorily looked into the matter.

That is due in no small part to the fact that unleashed dogs apparently are allowed to roam at will in Talkeetna. If it is not feasible to hold the dog's owner criminally liable, Stec ought to seriously consider instigating a civil lawsuit against either him or her.

For the time being, however, she seems content to let the matter die a natural death. "The dog has not been seen and neither has the owner," she told USA Today in the article cited supra. "I can guarantee you they will not come into this town again."

It is difficult to understand how she is able to make such a categorical statement especially in that her bravado is eerily reminiscent of similar sentiments expressed only a year earlier by an unidentified business owner. "I've never seen a dog mess with him (Stubbs)," the entrepreneur told Time Magazine on July 17, 2012. (See "Cat Marks Fifteen Years as Mayor of Alaska Town.")

The Mayor Outside His Favorite Watering Hole

Although the antipathy that exists between cats and dogs is of long-standing duration, there is more often than not a substantial human component involved whenever relations between them turn violent. For example, one of the favorite ploys of dog walkers is to sic their charges on cats and then to turn around and brand their victims as the instigators of these attacks. (See Cat Defender posts of October 18, 2009 and October 23, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Minneapolis Is Working Overtime Trying to Kill an Octogenarian's Cat Named Hoppy for Defending His Turf Against Canine Intruders" and "Essex Welfare Bum Who Sicced His Dog on Cats and Beat Them with His Cane Is Now Pretending to Be the Victim of an Assault.")

Another popular pastime, especially with teenagers and juveniles, is to feed cats and kittens to vicious dogs. For instance, on February 22, 2010 a group of at least ten teens on Carlton Drive in Strabane (County Tyrone) in Northern Ireland stole and fed a seven-month-old kitten named Bailey to a lurcher.

Bailey, who suffered multiple broken bones and lacerations, died en route to the veterinarian. "I just don't know how these young people can sleep at night after doing something like this," Bailey's anonymous owner later said. "They are nothing but scum!" (See Cat Defender post of March 24, 2010 entitled "Seven-Month-Old Bailey Is Fed to a Lurcher by a Group of Sadistic Teens in Search of Cheap Thrills in Northern Ireland.")

Both domestic and homeless cats also are stolen off the street by criminal syndicates so that they can be hunted by lurchers, labradors, and other large dogs. (See the Times and Star of Workington in Cumbria, October 9, 2012, "Fears Cats Being Stolen in Cumbria to Be Used as Hunting Dogs' Bait" and The Guardian, November 7, 2012, "Eight Dogs Impounded in Police and RSPCA Operation after Reports of Pets Being Chased in County Durham.")

As unspeakable as the atrocities committed against the species by these so-called sportsmen are, they nonetheless pale in comparison with both the scope and nature of those perpetrated by wildlife biologists. For example, on both Marion and Robben islands the South Africans employed dogs in order to track down cats so that they then could be assassinated by snipers. (See Cat Defender posts of March 23, 2006, April 27, 2006, and March 23, 2007 entitled, respectively, "South Africans, Supported by Ailurophobic PETA, Are Slaughtering More Cats on Robben Island," "Cat-Hating Monster Les Underhill and Moneygrubbing Robben Island Museum Resume Slaughtering Cats in South Africa," and "Bird Lovers in South Africa Break Out the Champagne to Celebrate the Merciless Gunning Down of the Last of Robben Island's Cats.")

Not about to outdone, the inveterate cat-haters and liars at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service also used dogs in order to eradicate the cats on San Nicolas. (See Cat Defender posts of June 27, 2008, July 10, 2008, April 28, 2009, November 20, 2009, March 16, 2010, and February 24, 2012 entitled, respectively, "United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navy Hatch a Diabolical Plan to Gun Down Two-Hundred Cats on San Nicolas," "The Ventura County Star Races to the Defense of the Cat-Killers on San Nicolas Island," "Quislings at the Humane Society Sell Out San Nicolas's Cats to the Assassins at the Diabolical United States Fish and Wildlife Service," "Memo to the Humane Society: Tell the World Exactly How Many Cats You and Your Honeys at the USFWS Have Murdered on San Nicolas Island," "Humane Society's Sellout of San Nicolas's Felines to the Assassins at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Was the Biggest Cat Story of 2009," and "United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Humane Society Hoist a Glass in Celebration of Their Extermination of the Cats on San Nicolas Island.")

In Arnhem Land in Australia's Northern Territory, dogs currently are being used in order to hunt down cats so that they can be equipped with radio transmitters that will track their movements and activities. Once the scientists have collected a sufficient amount of data that they feel will justify their elimination, the cats, whom they disparagingly refer to as pests, will be hounded down a second time and hideously killed. (See Northern Territory News of Darwin, October 14, 2013, "Scientists Calls in the Dogs to Control Pests.")

Au premier coup d'oeil it would appear that cat and dog owners would have a considerable amount in common but that is hardly the case. The marked disdain that canine owners harbor in their bosoms for cats was vividly demonstrated only recently in a guest column that Kevan Cleary of the Animal Law Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association authored for the New York Daily News on October 14th. (See "Fight for the Life of Every Dog.")

In the process of lambasting the administration of outgoing New York City Mayor Mike "Dirty Bloomers" Bloomberg for its abject failure to transform the city's abysmal shelters into no-kill operations, Cleary cries a proverbial river for dogs but scarcely even mentions the plight of cats. Right off the bat he declares that "New York City Animal Care and Control is overwhelmed with abandoned dogs right now," but he conveniently neglects to mention that the city's shelters kill far more cats than dogs.

A little further along he laments that "thousands of dogs, most of them beautiful, kind dogs, are dying," but once again he fails to even acknowledge all the cats that are systematically exterminated in droves every day.

Even in setting forth his action plan in order to make New York a no-kill city he limits his appeal to dog lovers. "Here's an urgent agenda that those who love dogs should insist gets put into action immediately," he bellows just as if he were talking down to his naïve students at Tuoro and Brooklyn colleges, where he teaches, or shooting the breeze with his fellow legal eagles at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, which also pays him handsomely to run his big mouth.

To cap it all off, old dreary Cleary heaps piles of derision and scorn upon all those kindhearted and dedicated souls who dare so much as to care about the fate of kittens that are abandoned in the city's labyrinthine subway system and the shameful and utterly disgraceful plight of Manhattan's long-suffering carriage horses. "It is embarrassing that the longest sustained discussions of animal welfare in this election year have revolved around a relatively small number of carriage horses and two kittens found near subway tracks," he boils over with with self-righteous moral indignation.

Au contraire, what is truly embarrassing is old thingamajig Cleary's profound selfishness and abysmal narrow-mindedness. First of all, individual cats and horses, like individual dogs, do count and saving their lives is not only important but a moral imperative as well.

The Mayor Enjoying a Tipple of Catnip and Water

Secondly, if he thinks for one moment that the shelter system in this country can be changed for the better in even the tiniest manner without the inclusion of cats and their supports in the process he is wasting his breath.

Thirdly, it is nothing short of hypocritical that he would tacitly condone the running down of defenseless cats and kittens with speeding locomotives while simultaneously whining about shelters killing dogs. Fourthly, anyone who would turn a blind eye to how horribly the city's carriage horses are treated can hardly be considered to be a friend of animals.

The only purpose that Cleary's unctuous gruntings serve is to demonstrate that cat-lovers have about as much in common with dog advocates as they do with ornithologists and wildlife biologists. That is not surprising in that about the only thing Americans are good for anyway is fighting; cooperation, like sharing, is a dirty word as far as the majority of them are concerned.

As far as possible successors to Stubbs are concerned, no one so far as come out and publicly declared either his or her intentions to replace him. That more than likely is attributable at least in part to the enormity of the task itself.

"Those are difficult paws to fill," Susan Mossaner of Denali Brewing Company said of Stubbs in The Wall Street Journal article cited supra.

"We don't know what we'd do without him, really," twenty-seven-year-old fisheries biologist Leah Vanden Busch added to The Wall Street Journal.

"I'm very confident that Talkeetna will be A-OK as long as we have Stubbs around," Farrar told KTUU-TV on July 13, 2012. (See "Talkeetna Mayor Is a Cat Named Stubbs.")

Other residents are considerably less discerning so long as one particularly odious species of mammals is barred from office. "Anything's better than a human," forty-six-year-old Gil Gunther of the Antler Outpost chipped in to The Wall Street Journal.

If there is one thing that both Stubbs' fans and detractors can agree upon it is his financial value to the community. "Oh my gosh, we probably have thirty to forty people a day come in (to Nagley's) who are tourists wanting to see him," Stec stated last year. "He was just in Alaska Magazine (April 2012 edition), and he's been featured in a few different things." (See Cat Defender post of September 25, 2012 entitled "Talkeetna Has Profited Handsomely from Mayor Stubbs' Enlightened Leadership but the Lure of Higher Office Soon Could Be Beckoning Him to Change His Address.")

As for the mayor himself, he remains every bit as humble upon leaving office as he was when he first assumed power all those years ago. "I only hope I have served them (the residents of Talkeetna) with as much love and respect as you (sic) all have shown me," he stated in the Facebook posting cited supra. "I love you all -- meeow!"

On that count the mayor can rest easily because he has done considerably more for the city of Talkeetna than it ever did for him. Regrettably, some residents are far too consumed with selfishness and ailurophobia in order to realize that.

It is a moot point anyway because Talkeetna will survive with or without Stubbs. What matters now is that he makes a full recovery and thus is able to live out the remainder of his days in both good health and security.

Finally, although individual replies cannot be guaranteed, those wishing to send him either a get-well card or a special treat can do so by writing to him at Nagley's Store, 13650 East Main Street, Talkeetna, AK 99676.

Photos: Jim Carlton of The Wall Street Journal (Stubbs at work and with Stec), Laurie Stec (Stubbs and his injuries), Big Lake Susitna Veterinary Hospital (Stubbs napping), Queen of Subtle of Flickr (Stubbs outside a bar), and Facebook (Stubbs drinking out of a wine glass).

Friday, October 11, 2013

Heroic Hermione Is Holding Her Own Despite Tragically Losing a Kidney in a Botched Sterilization Two Years Ago

Hermione with Dr. Adriana Odachowski

"She's amazing. Her surgery was Monday, and by the end of the day she was bouncing around like a maniac."
-- veterinarian Adriana Odachowski

When it comes to cats with kidney trouble, stories with anything even remotely resembling happy endings are about as rare as hens' teeth. In most cases, the very best that they can expect from members of the unconscionable, moneygrubbing veterinary medical profession are deadly jabs of sodium pentobarbital that are followed by unceremonial burnings of their mortal coils.

In spite of the predominance of that morally reprehensible practice, ever once in a while a lucky cat is able to defy all the odds and thus hold the Grim Reaper and his human stooges at bay. A two and one-half year old black cat named Hermione from Lutz, Florida, is one such survivor.

At the tender age of only four months, she was found outside a PetSmart store somewhere in the Tampa-St.Petersburg area in early July of 2011. Since the pet food supplier offers adoption services for cats, it is highly likely that Hermione was intentionally dumped on its doorstep.

She was discovered by an unidentified rescue group that in turn fobbed her off onto the East-West Animal Hospital in Lutz. It was there that a mass was detected in her abdomen.

Tests later revealed that her ureter had been tied off during a botched sterilization and as a result one of her kidneys was unable to properly drain. Tragically, the kidney was so badly damaged that it had to be surgically removed on July 25th at a cost in excess of $1,000.

To their eternal credit in both this and the next worlds, the enlightened and kindhearted staff at East-West apparently never even once considered killing her off. "We were already in (love with her)," veterinarian Linda Register told the Land O'Lakes Patch on August 1, 2011. (See "Rescue Kitten Surviving Fine with One Kidney.")

Named in honor of the only daughter of King Menelaus of Sparta and Helen of Troy, Hermione upheld her end of the bargain by coming through the surgery with flying colors. "She's amazing," veterinarian Adriana Odachowski, who performed the operation, told the Patch. "Her surgery was Monday, and by the end of the day she was bouncing around like a maniac."

Veterinarian technician Jade Sceusa likewise was equally impressed with Hermione's zest for life. "The minute you pick her up, she starts purring," she told the Patch. "She's very inquisitive."

Although cats are every bit as capable as humans of getting by on only one kidney, Hermione will require specialized care through the remainder of her life. That is due in no small part to the prevalence of kidney failure in all cats, even those with two good kidneys. It also is conceivable that the botched sterilization may have in some way compromised the normal functioning of her sole remaining kidney.

In addition to constant monitoring, Hermione requires special supplements and a diet rich in, among other things, omega three fatty acids. So far, no one associated with the veterinary hospital has been willing to publicly speculate as to her long-term prognosis.

Initially, it was even feared that she would be forced to spend the remainder of her days at East-West. "I wouldn't say one-hundred per cent we wouldn't adopt her out (but the odds of that happening are slim)," Register told the Patch in the article cited supra.

Maxi and Thomas Rätsch

It took a while but fortunately a suitable home was secured for Hermione about a year ago. Although it always is difficult to accurately gauge the health of a cat suffering from kidney problems, she nevertheless seems to be doing rather well under the circumstances.

Merely surviving the loss of a kidney is traumatic enough in its own right for any cat, but for Hermione finally to have made it out of the hospital and into a permanent home after such a lengthy convalescence is also a testament to her perseverance. Considering all that she has been put through, hopefully she has many more happy years ahead of her; she deserves at least that much out of life.

As far as the botched sterilization is concerned, Register believes that Hermione was butchered at a low-cost sterilization mill. While that certainly is a distinct possibility, the track record of conventional surgeries that charge exorbitant fees for these procedures is not all that much better. (See Cat Defender posts of July 28, 2011, July 2, 2010, and February 26, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Tammy and Maddy Are Forced to Pay the Ultimate Price after Their Owner and an Incompetent Veterinarian Elect to Pay Russian Roulette with Their Lives," "Lexi Was by No Means the First Cat to Be Lost by Woosehill Vets Any More Than Angel Was Their Last Victim of a Botched Sterilization," and "The Dark Side of Spay and Neuter: Veterinarian Botched Surgeries and Back Alley Castrations Claim the Lives of Numerous Cats.")

In order to better ensure the safety and well-being of their cats, Register recommends that owners find out well beforehand which veterinarian actually is performing the procedure and if any preoperative laboratory work is included in the cost. She fails to mention it, but trumping all of those concerns is the availability of remedial veterinary care in case of post-operative problems.

Those concerns can range from botched surgeries on the one hand to hemorrhaging and broken stitches on the other hand. All of these complications can be potentially life-threatening and that makes prompt access to emergency care imperative.

That is especially the case for the impecunious who utilize the services of sterilization mills but do not have access to veterinarians of their own choosing. Sterilizing cats is important but what happened to Hermione is yet still another poignant reminder that these procedures are anything but minor and routine and that an awful lot can go terribly wrong if the surgeon is anything less than both competent and conscientious.

Kidney transplants are another option for cats that are dying from renal failure. They have been available in the United States since the mid-1980's, in England since 2003, and likely are offered elsewhere in the world today.

In 2010 for instance, thirty-five-year-old Thomas Rätsch of Hannover made headlines around the world when he announced that he was transporting his six-year-old cat, Maxi, to the United States for a kidney transplant. That was in spite of the daunting reality that the surgery was expected to have set him back €7000 plus another €7000 in travel-related expenses.

Since he is fortunate to have a good-paying position within the lucrative medical equipment supply field, money never was an object as far as he was concerned. "Das ist nebensächlich," he told Die Welt of Frankfurt am Main on October 27, 2010. (See "Katze soll neue Niere für siebentausend Euro bekommen.") "Dann fahre ich halt kleinere Autos."

He was not, however, oblivious to the consternation that his munificence toward Maxi evoked from some critics. "So viel Kohle (in this instance slang for geld) für 'ne Katze," he exclaimed to the Hannover Allgemeine Zeitung on October 27, 2010. (See "Kater aus Hannover bekommt Vereinigten Staaten-Niere für siebentausend Euro.") "Ich kann verstehen, dass die Leute das verwunderlich finden."

The hoi polloi are free to think whatever they please but on this occasion love won out over money. That is especially the case in that Rätsch and Maxi had grown particularly close following the latter's adoption from a shelter in 2007.


"Er ist ein vollwertiges Familienmitglied," Rätsch told Die Welt in the article cited supra. "Er spürt, wenn es einem nicht gut geht."

That certainly is true enough in that Maxi never once left Rätsch's side while he was recuperating from injuries sustained in a 2010 automobile accident. "Maxi spendete mir viel Kraft nach meinem Autounfall Anfang des Jahres," he affirmed to Die Welt.

Maxi's eleventh-hour trip to the United States was necessitated by the fact that feline kidney transplants are illegal in Deutschland. On top of that, his health was rapidly deteriorating.

"Das Tier wird quasi langsam von innen vergiftet," Rätsch confided to the Hannover Allgemeine Zeitung. His condition was so critical in fact that attending veterinarians in Deutschland wanted to kill him.

Regrettably, it has not been possible to determine either the outcome of Maxi's transplant operation or even if he is still alive today. Organ rejection and infections are always primary concerns and survival rates tend to vary somewhat depending upon which transplant facility performs the delicate operation. Generally speaking, however, only about fifty per cent of transplant recipients live three years or longer.

Feline kidney transplants also raise contentious ethical issues. "People can make a decision about being an organ donor but animals are unable to do so," Chris Laurence of the RSPCA, which so far has refused to sacrifice its homeless cats to kidney transplant centers, told the BBC on February 27, 2003. (See "Vets Approve Cat Kidney Transplants.") "Neither can the recipient, nor the donor, appreciate the long-term treatment that may follow."

Predictably, in the United States few individuals care one way or the other where transplant facilities get their spare kidneys. Consequently, they are stolen from cats already unjustly incarcerated at research laboratories, shelters, and God only knows where else. Individuals also are permitted to supply their own organ donor felines.

Whereas the RSPCA's willingness to champion the right of cats not to be robbed of their kidneys is light years ahead of the mercenary policies of their morally depraved cousins on this side of the Atlantic, it nonetheless rings somewhat hollow coming as it does from an organization that does not think twice about slaughtering cats and dogs in droves. (See Cat Defender posts of June 5, 2007 and October 23, 2010 entitled, respectively, "RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated" and "RSPCA Steals and Executes Nightshift Who Was His Elderly Caretaker's Last Surviving Link to Her Dead Husband," as well as the Daily Mail, December 29, 2012, "Revealed: RSPCA Destroys Half of the Animals That It Rescues -- Yet Thousands Are Completely Healthy.")

The only humane concession that the operators of transplant facilities in America make is to require that the owners of transplant recipients also adopt the donor cat. Even under those circumstances the injustice of that arrangement has not been completely lost on Rätsch. "Es ist brutal, einer gesunden Katze eine Niere herauszureißen," he admitted to Die Welt in the article cited supra.

He was totally unwilling, however, to allow those considerations to stand in the way of his plans. Moreover, it certainly did not take him long to concoct a convenient rationale in order to excuse the blatant immorality inherent in his decision.

"Ich muss das Tier (the donor cat) adoptieren," he told the Hannover Allgemeine Zeitung in the article cited supra. "Ich fahre also mit einem kranken Kater hin und komme mit zwei gesunden Katzen züruck."


That is a debatable point. First of all, cats who wind up being sacrificed as organ donors already have been put through Hell. That is true regardless of whether they come from research laboratories, shelters, or are donated by unscrupulous individuals. They accordingly should be entitled to their freedom, rights, and compassion instead of being subjected to further exploitation and abuse.

Secondly, having a kidney removed is, as Hermione found out the hard way, a terrible ordeal to put any cat through even when the surgery is necessary as opposed to being elective. Even the ones lucky enough in order to survive these grueling procedures sometimes face not only long-term impairments to their health but shortened life-expectancies as well.

Worst of all, donor cats do not have any rights under the law. C'est-à-dire, there is absolutely nothing to prevent their new owners from either withholding life-saving veterinary care or having them killed outright.

It is, after all, axiomatic that if caring for one cat with kidney disease is an expensive and trying ordeal, caring for two of them would be prohibitive for just about all individuals. Consequently, whenever push comes to shove the donor cat is all but certain to be the first one discarded.

Even when the scientific community is not actually robbing cats of their vital organs, it is stealing their eggs and sperm and shanghaiing them into serving as surrogate mothers during diabolical cloning experiments. Although there are many of these Frankenstein institutions, the Audubon Center for Research in Endangered Species in New Orleans has proven itself to be one of the most egregious abusers and killers of domestic cats. (See Cat Defender posts of September 6, 2005 and November 17, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Clones of Endangered African Wildcats Give Birth to Eight Naturally-Bred Kittens in New Orleans" and "Mr. Green Genes' Coming Out Party Ushers In a New Era of Unspeakable Atrocities to Be Committed Against Cats by Cloners and Vivisectors.")

Countless thousands of cats likewise are currently being held hostage as blood donors at veterinary clinics. One such victim is Christopher at Nine Lives Foundation's Feline Well-Care Clinic in Redwood City, California. (See Cat Defender post of November 13, 2010 entitled "Christopher, Who Has Persevered Through Tragedy and Given Back So Much, Is Now Being Held Captive for His Valuable Blood.")

In addition to transplants, diuresis, dialysis, continual renal replacement therapy, and chemotherapy are now available to cats suffering from kidney failure. Not surprisingly, the cost of all of these procedures is well beyond the means of most cat owners.

As grim as that picture may be, there nonetheless exists a glimmer of hope for cats suffering from kidney failure and, best of all, it does not cost an arm and a leg. In fact, in many cases all that is required is for owners to be willing to give their ailing cats daily injections of subcutaneous fluids and to put them on a special diet.

"I've seen even very sick cats, cats who needed hospitalization in the beginning, do really well on home care with an owner who was willing to give it a try," Miami veterinarian Patty Khuly told the San Francisco Chronicle on August 18, 2009. (See "Caring for a Cat Whose Kidneys Have Failed.") "What makes the difference in how well a cat with kidney failure does is not how sick they (sic) are, or how bad their (sic) kidney values are on a blood test. It's the attitude of the owner."

Best of all, the rewards to be reaped from home care extend far beyond simply making a cat's last days less difficult. Such an effort can in fact add quantity as well as quality to its life.

"Many of these cats who were on the brink of death can be brought back with supportive care at home," Khuly added. "Not only brought back for days or week or months, but years."


Veterinarian Alice Wolf of Texas A&M is in complete agreement. Progressive kidney failure in cats "can be successfully managed for years if it is detected early and managed appropriately," she is quoted in the Chronicle as stating earlier in 2006.

That also is the considered opinion of Modesto, California, veterinarian Jeff Kahler. (See The Seattle Times, February 3, 2011, "Renal Disease Common in Older Cats.")

As Khuly understands only too well, the difficulty lies in convincing owners to go the extra mile for their sick felines. "You just don't know unless you try," she concluded to the San Francisco Chronicle.

One dedicated cat owner who made such an effort was Dottie Zammetti of parts unknown and as a result she was able to extend the life of her beloved companion, Munchkin, for another two and one-half years. Munchkin's downward spiral first began when she contracted an unspecified form of cancer.
Chemotherapy was tried but that in turn caused her kidneys to fail.

Once her veterinarian was able to stabilize Munchkin, Zammetti began to inject her on a daily basis with subcutaneous fluids and that made all the difference. "It took a while for us to adjust to that process, but after around a week and a half, she just accepted it as part of our routine," she told the San Francisco Chronicle in the article cited supra.

Zammetti also profited handsomely from the invaluable assistance that she received from online support groups. In particular, she learned from them not only where she could purchase better needles but less expensive fluids as well.

Every bit as important as the practical advise so liberally dispensed by these groups was their moral support. "The people in the groups helped keep me going, because when I felt like I didn't see an end to it (Munchkin's illness), they would give me the helpful advise to get me through that rough period," she added to the Chronicle.

Unfortunately, Zammetti is the exception rather than the rule in that there are not too many owners who are willing to do for their cats what she did for Munchkin. For instance, the directors of the Burwood Spinal Unit in Christchurch, New Zealand, killed off their longtime resident feline, Alfie, on July 5th after he was diagnosed to be suffering with renal failure.

No other details of either his illness or of any efforts undertaken on his behalf in order to prolong his stay on this earth have been divulged and that makes it difficult to speculate if he could have benefited from the type of care that Zammetti gave Munchkin. Regardless of his condition, the dashing brown and black tom had an unqualified right to live out his last days to the very end and as a consequence what the directors did to him can only be labeled as murder.

During the nineteen years that he spent at Burwood, Alfie dispensed loving care to both patients and staffers alike. "He was just a constant presence. He'd pick the sickest and just sit with them," former nurse Ngaire Hunt told the Marlborough Express of Blenheim on July 6th. (See "Spinal Unit's Alfie Was a Healer.") "I remember one man was in the ward dying of cancer and Alfie stayed on his bed for days, only leaving to pee and poo and eat. He was an amazing cat just the way he picked the ones who needed him most."

He also is credited with giving Fleur Hansby, a Blenheim woman who was left paralyzed as the result of a cycling accident, the strength and courage to face life in a wheelchair. He doubtless provided inspiration and encouragement to countless others during his lengthy tenure at the spinal unit.

Sammy Is Comforted by a Deer

It is conceivable that there could have been a connection between the empathy that he showed to others and his own experiences in that he, too, suffered from a lower spinal cord injury. In particular, he not only injured his lower back but lost his tail when it got caught in an automatic door.

It is unclear, however, whether he suffered that injury at Burwood or sometime before his arrival. According to Hunt, no one knows anything about his past other than that he showed up at the hospital one day when he was about two years old and never left.

There can be little denying, however, that Alfie has left an indelible mark on Burwood that will not soon be erased. It is just a shame that his tenure there could not have ended on a more positive note.

"People loved him -- well not everyone, some people hate cats -- but he brought comfort," Hunt added to the Marlborough Express. "Alfie changed us from a hospital into a home rehab unit and while we still have to be a hospital, home is exactly what people who come here need."

It likewise is not known what measures, if any, that Margie Scott of Bellingham, Washington, took in order to save the life of her nine-year-old, longhaired gray and white cat, Sammy, before he died of kidney failure on June 16, 2006. Moreover, his demise only came to the attention of the public thanks to an extraordinary act of kindness that preceded his death.

Having been cruelly declawed when he was only six months old, Sammy had been forced to spend his entire life cooped up indoors. During his final days, however, Scott relented and allowed him to spend some time outside her apartment.

One day he was befriended by a deer. The deer strolled up, touched noses with him, and began licking him around the face and neck.

"I truly believe the deer was able to sense that there was something wrong with Sammy and that was why he started licking him, like he was trying to nurture him," Scott later theorized. It nevertheless is sad that he apparently received more compassion during his final days from a total stranger than he did from his owner. (See Cat Defender post of January 16, 2007 entitled "Dying of Kidney Failure, Nine-Year-Old Cat Named Sammy Is Shown Compassion from an Unexpected Friend.")

Only recently on September 8th, Tuxedo Stan of Halifax in Nova Scotia was killed off by his owner after he came down with renal lymphoma. In his case, he was in all likelihood well beyond all mortal assistance but that in no way excuses his owner's decision to end his life. (See Cat Defender post of September 26, 2013 entitled "Former Halifax Mayoral Hopeful Tuxedo Stan is Killed Off by His Owner after Chemotherapy Fails to Halt the Onslaught of Renal Lymphoma.")

The good news out of Halifax these days is that the Tuxedo party, founded by Stan in order to call attention to the plight of homeless cats, is not only still active but is now headed by his brother, Earl Grey. Currently, the party is advocating for changes in Nova Scotia's Animal Protection Act that would both outlaw kitty mills as well as criminalize the abandonment of cats. (See the News Herald of Halifax, September 22, 2013, "Earl Grey Takes Up Stan's Case.")

There is considerable debate as to what causes kidney failure to be so prevalent in cats. Traditionally, the usual suspects have included, inter alia, the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), the Feline Immunosuppression Virus (FIV), abdominal trauma, genetic abnormalities, urinary tract obstructions, hypertension, Hyperthyroidism, diabetes, inbreeding, and toxins in the environment.

In that light it is interesting to note that purebreds, such as Maine Coons, Abyssinians, Persians, Siamese, Russian Blues, and Burmese, tend to be more predisposed to developing the disease and that petit fait alone would tend to suggest that inbreeding could be at least part of the problem. If so, that constitutes another good reason for affording additional legal protections to these beautiful breeds.

Earl Grey

More recent research has shifted the blame onto the shoulders of the veterinary medical profession. For example, researchers at Colorado State University believe that they have uncovered a link between feline kidney disease and  the vaccinations for Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (herpes), Feline Calicivirus (pneumonia), and Panleukopenia (distemper). Collectively, this battery of vaccines is known as FVRCP.

Veterinarian Jean Hofve, for instance, believes that cats over sixteen weeks of age and with healthy immune systems need to be vaccinated only once for FVRCP. (See www.Truth4pets. org, May 25, 2012, "Don't Vaccinate Your Adult Cat for Distemper" and www.catinfo.org,  April 2011, Lisa A. Pierson, "Vaccines for Cats: We Need to Stop Overvaccinating.")

In that regard it never must be forgotten that the practice of veterinary medicine, like health care as well, is first and last a business. Under such perverted circumstances, what matters most to practitioners is not saving lives but enhancing their bottom lines.

This most readily can be seen in the marked increase of vaccine related sarcomas and cancers caused by implanted microchips. (See Cat Defender posts of September 21, 2007 and November 6, 2010 entitled, respectively, "FDA Is Suppressing Research That Shows Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer in Mice, Rats, and Dogs" and "Bulkin Contracts Cancer from an Implanted Microchip and Now It Is Time for Digital Angel and Merck to Answer for Their Crimes in a Court of Law.")

Most revealing of all is the veterinary medical profession's love affair with killing off cats and dogs. Such conduct constitutes a blatant conflict of interest and should be immediately outlawed.

In addition to veterinary malpractice, Chicago-area practitioner Karen Becker points an accusatory finger at dry food as being a likely cause of kidney failure in cats. That is not anything new in that it has been known for a long time that cats need meat, not cheap cereal, in their diets.

Besides, some research has shown that the meal which constitutes the bulk of kibble comes from slaughterhouse dregs, roadkill, and even other cats and dogs that have been liquidated at shelters. The meal is then fortified with vitamins, additives, and dyes in order to make it palatable but garbage is still garbage no matter how wholesome it may look and taste.

In addition to a high quality protein diet, Becker recommends that cats be given good quality water to drink and that their intake of phosphorus and sodium be curtailed. They also should be monitored for the onset of both hypertension and anemia.

She further advises that they be kept in stress-free environments and that the kidneys of cats over seven years old be examined either once or, preferably, twice a year by a competent veterinarian. (See www.healthypets.mercola.com, August 6, 2012, "Why Do So Many Domestic Cats Have Chronic Kidney Failure?")

Since kidney disease and Hyperthyroidism so often go hand in hand, cat owners additionally would be well advised to remove toxins, such as PBDEs, from all indoor environments. (See Cat Defender post of August 22, 2007 entitled "Indoor Cats Are Dying from Diabetes, Hypertension, and Various Toxins in the Home.")

In the future new treatments may one day magically transform feline kidney disease into something altogether different from the death sentence that it is today in most cases but for the time being there are not any silver bullets. Anecdotal evidence would tend to suggest, however, that maintaining them in environments that are free of toxins, feeding them meat as opposed to kibble, and eliminating all but the most essential vaccinations can go a long way toward warding off the onset of this dastardly disease.

Furthermore, as Zammetti has demonstrated by her loving and conscientious care of Munchkin, even a diagnosis of renal failure does not necessarily mean that all is necessarily lost. Home care does work but only if owners can be persuaded to forgo the expedient of sodium pentobarbital and give it a serious try.

The goal always should be to provide better lives for Hermione and Maxi and longer ones for Munchkin, Alfie, Sammy, and Tuxedo Stan. None of that ever will be possible unless both individuals and professionals alike can somehow be prevailed upon  to trade in their moribund thinking in favor of an abiding respect for the sanctity of all feline life. Scientific progress without corresponding moral enlightenment is not only worthless but dangerous to boot.

Photos: Sherri Lonon of the Land O'Lakes Patch (Hermione and Odachowksi), Hannover Allgemeine Zeitung (Maxi and Rätsch), Dottie Zammetti (Munchkin), Dean Kozanic of the Marlborough Express (Alfie), Margie Scott (Sammy by himself and with the deer), and Ted Pritchard of the News Herald (Earl Grey).