Doomed from Conception to a Lifetime of Naked Exploitation and Destined to Never Fit In Anywhere, Chum Is Gunned Down in Cold Blood on the Violent Streets of Lawless and Uncaring Detroit
|Chum on the Run|
"I think we need to be a little bit more respectful of the animals and human beings around us."
-- Laura Wilhelm-Bruzek of Paws for the Cause
From womb to tomb, Chum never had so much as a ghost of a chance.
His road to doom began when an unidentified heartless and greedy breeder made him into a Savannah by forcibly mating an African Serval (Leptailurus serval) with a domestic cat. After that his fate was all but sealed.
Born with mismatched genes, he was destined to be always torn between two conflicting worlds. One was wild and uninhibited whereas the other one was a cruel form of regimented and cramped American-style domestication. Consequently, it is not surprising that he never learned either who he was or where he belonged.
He bravely did the best that he could in order to cope with an utterly impossible and cruel fate but his best never was good enough. Like some hopelessly lost soul from out of the musty pages of either Aeschylus or Sophocles, he always was just one step away from a fatal head-on collision with tragedy.
The final chapter in the three-year-old hybrid's unhappy existence began to unfold sometime in late July of last year when he escaped through a bathroom window at his unidentified owners' residence at Nine Mile Road and Gratiot Avenue in the Detroit suburb of Eastpointe (formerly known as East Detroit). It did not take long, however, for busybodies from the neighborhood to spot him and, predictably, rat him out to the Detroit Police. It is unclear if the Eastpointe Police Department, which is headquartered near Chum's residence, was ever contacted.
Area residents also reportedly contacted the Michigan Humane Society (MHS) of Bingham Farms, thirty-three kilometers northwest of the Motor City, but the organization afterwards claimed that it did not learn of Chum's disappearance until August 23rd. Even more disturbing, press reports have not broached the subject of what, if any, measures Chum's guardians, who had owned him ever since he was four months old, undertook in order to locate him.
All that has been officially disclosed is that they belatedly contacted Paws for the Cause (PFTC) of Chesterfield Township, thirty-four kilometers north of Eastpointe, on August 26th. By that time, however, it was way too late for anyone to have saved Chum's imperiled life.
The intelligent and responsible thing for them to have done was to scour the neighborhood without so much as sleeping until he was located. They also should have invested in several large humane traps which could have been judiciously placed out of sight from the prying eyes of the irrational hoi polloi and, above all, continuously monitored from a discreet distance.
They also could have promptly and cautiously approached known legitimate feline rescue groups. Should they have been able to locate one that they felt they could halfway trust, they then could have taken it into their confidence and sought its assistance.
All of these measures would, by necessity, need to have been undertaken with not only alacrity and extreme caution but, especially, secrecy. The last thing that either they or Chum needed was for anyone to blab to either the police or the capitalist media.
It has not been publicly explained why Chum's guardians elected to forgo all of those expedients. The only thing that can be said for certain is that by doing so they initialed Chum's death warrant.
Into the breach created by the utterly unforgivable lack of any concerted action on the part of either Chum's owners or the authorities strutted an unidentified trigger-happy resident from the intersection of Joann Street and Bringard Drive, just south of Eight Mile Road which separates Eastpointe from Detroit, and he wasted no time in mercilessly gunning down Chum on August 22nd. Although he surely must have known that the cat's owners and others were searching for him, he never made any attempt whatsoever to contact any of them but instead nonchalantly tossed Chum's lifeless corpse into a nearby trash can as if it were nothing more than a worn-out pair of old shoes.
PFTC, which had entered the search on August 24th, was somehow able to belatedly track down the shooter on August 26th. "I simply asked them (the murder's family) for the cat's body and they said it was across the street in a garbage can," the homeless cat rescue group's Laura Wilhelm-Bruzek told the Detroit Free Press on August 28th. (See "Big Cat Roaming Detroit Streets Shot Dead, Thrown in Garbage, Group Says.") "And the cat...was there."
As for the cat's derelict owners, Wilhelm-Bruzek maintains that "they were hysterical" when informed of his gruesome demise. Even if that were indeed the case, it certainly did not take them long in order to recover because by as early as August 29th they had regained enough of their composure to coldbloodedly have Chum's remains burned to ashes.
The response from the MHS to Chum's hideous and senseless murder was even more callous. "That's pretty terrible," was all that Ryan McTigue was able to muster in defense of his organization's outrageous dereliction of duty.
The MHS's shameless display of marked indifference to a crime of this magnitude committed against a harmless cat is rather surprising in light of the simply superlative job that the rescue group had done earlier in the year caring for Chairman Waffles. (See Cat Defender post of May 2, 2013 entitled "Poisoned Within an Inch of His Life While Living on the Mean Streets of Detroit, Chairman Waffles Survives Three Surgeries in Order to Live Again.")
Almost as outrageous as Chum's death, his killer is still at large. "I'd love to see someone look into it and investigate it," Wilhelm-Bruzek mused wistfully to the Detroit Free Press. "But I'm not holding out a lot of hope."
Her intuition turned out to be prophetic in that, as far as it could be determined, neither the Detroit Police, Eastpointe Police, MHS, nor any animal rights group, locally or nationally, has even bothered to so much as look into Chum's murder. At the very least, the killer should have been publicly identified and promptly charged with felony animal cruelty.
|Chum During His Last Days|
An inquiry also should have been conducted in order to determine if the firearm that he used in order to snuff out Chum's precious life was legally owned and properly registered. There additionally very well could be an ordinance prohibiting the discharge of lethal weapons within the city limits of Detroit and, if so, the shooter should have been accordingly indicted for that infraction as well.
Trumping all of the myriad of legal issues raised by Chum's murder is the patented immorality of the crime itself. "I think we need to be a little bit more respectful of the animals and human beings around us," Wilhelm-Bruzek proclaimed to the Detroit Free Press.
Whereas those sentiments certainly are noble enough in their own right, they did absolutely nothing in order to protect Chum and, consequently, are destined to contribute little to the safety of all cats whether they be domestics, hybrids, or large ones. The only way to deter individuals and groups from taking the law into their own hands is for humane groups to aggressively investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all feline abusers and killers.
In furtherance of that worthy objective, it is imperative that no-nonsense judges be appointed to the bench who will mete out lengthy jail sentences to all such offenders. In spite of what just about all currently sitting jurists believe, animal cruelty should not be treated as either a misdemeanor or a laughing matter. Au contraire, since the animals are unable to protect themselves against a creature as vile and bloodthirsty as man, crimes perpetrated against them should be punished far more severely than those that man commits against his fellow citizens.
For her part, Wilhelm-Bruzek is operating under the erroneous belief that Chum was murdered out of ignorance. "I think people can't just go around shooting things they don't understand," she gassed to the Detroit Free Press. "I don't think it was the size as much as the coloration that scared people."
Since she is intimately involved in the animal protection field she sans doute is acutely aware that individuals and groups, such as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Audubon Society, kill cats for all sorts of reasons and absolutely none of their crimes can be attributed to stupidity. Some of them simply hate cats with a passion while others kill and abuse them for both fun and profit.
If the cat is small, that immediately makes it an easy target for these monsters. If, on the other hand, it is large it supplies them with a golden opportunity to imitate Jim Corbett.
For example, back in 2008 the Chicago Police were unable to resist the overwhelming temptation to liquidate an unfortunate cougar that mistakenly had wandered into the north side of town. (See Cat Defender post of May 5, 2008 entitled "Chicago's Rambo-Style Cops Corner and Execute a Cougar to the Delight of the Hoi Polloi and Capitalist Media.")
Later in 2011, the Muskingum County Sheriff's Department without any provocation whatsoever freely chose to systematically slaughter dozens of tigers and lions at a private zoo in Zanesville, Ohio. (See Cat Defender post of November 3, 2011 entitled "Sheriff Matt Lutz Settles an Old Score by Staging a Great Safari Hunt That Claims the Lives of Eighteen Tigers and Seventeen Lions in Zanesville.")
In addition to being unjustly incarcerated, large cats held at zoos are not even allowed to defend themselves whenever they are attacked by either visitors or their keepers. (See Cat Defender post of January 28, 2008 entitled "Hopped Up on Vodka and Pot, Trio Taunted Tatiana Prior to Attacks That Led to Her Being Killed by the Police.")
Moreover, it is not merely exotic and big cats that the public and authorities shoot on sight, but even large domestic ones as well. For example, in June of 2005 sixty-seven-year-old retired engineer Kurt Engel shot and killed a large domestic black cat near Sale in the Gippsland section of Victoria while he was out deer hunting.
Not satisfied with the commission of that dastardly deed, he then cut off the cat's tail and strung it up to a tree. (See Cat Defender post of January 6, 2006 entitled "DNA Tests Confirm that Big Cat Killed in Australia Was a Feral Tabby and Not a Puma.")
Domestic cats also are hunted legally in Deutschland, Austria, and elsewhere in Europe. The hypocritical Germans like to brag that they do not have a problem with homeless cats but the elimination of that dilemma has been achieved at a staggering cost in feline lives.
Trigger-happy Americans also gun down coyotes and other animals simply for the thrill of doing so. For instance, on February 23rd the unidentified grandson of Doug and Lucy Ohrt of Victory County, Texas, killed without reason a coyote suffering from scabies.
Just as Engel attempted to excuse his killing of the black cat by ludicrously claiming that it was a puma, the Ohrts later claimed that the coyote was a chupacabra. (See The Independent of London, February 27, 2014, "Texas Family 'Kill' Mythical Chupacabra.")
What all of these senseless killings vividly demonstrate is not a lack of intelligence, but rather an appalling contempt for the sanctity of animal life. In America, this problem is worsened by the presence of far too many lethal weapons in the hands of not only private citizens but the police and military as well.
Considering the intransigence of the Detroit police, the Eastpointe Police, and local animal protection groups, the only hope for Chum to belatedly receive any measure of justice whatsoever rests with his owners who would be totally justified in filing a civil suit against his executioner. Although this maneuver has at times proven effective whenever the criminal justice system had failed to act, there is nothing in the record to indicate that they are contemplating pursuing such an avenue of redress. (See Cat Defender post of January 10, 2014 entitled "Texas Judge Idiotically Allows Pastor Rick Bartlett to Get Away with Stealing and Killing Moody but a Civil Court May Yet Hold Him Accountable.")
Although the details of the life that Chum previously enjoyed with his owners have not been disclosed, there can be little doubt that the last month of his life was a hardscrabble affair on the mean streets of Detroit. In particular, he was forced to not only procure food and shelter but to steer clear of both human and animal predators as well.
|Kurt Engel Admiring the Domestic Cat That He Shot and Strung Up|
All of those tasks would have been made all the more trying if he previously had been divested of his claws, which is the de rigueur with just about all hybrid cats. Declawing is not only cruel, painful, and barbaric but, just as importantly, it robs cats of their most effective means of defending themselves, hunting, and climbing.
The prevalence of this odious and thoroughly reprehensible practice also dispels the ludicrous notion that exotic cats are a threat to the public. On the contrary, it is the exact opposite which is far closer to the truth.
More to the point, if Chum had been declawed, it is amazing that he lasted for as long as he did on the street. Even with them, he would not have been able to outrun a bullet.
There are not any heroes to be found anywhere in this tragic story. Every individual and group that walked in and out of his life, no matter how briefly, failed Chum miserably. At no point in time was there any substantive and lasting moral bond established between him and those who bred him, cared for him, and the police forces and humane groups whose job it was to protect him.
"This whole thing from the beginning has just been a mess," is how Wilhelm-Bruzek summed up the matter to the Detroit Free Press. Even in saying that much she is guilty of grotesquely understating the enormity of the crimes perpetrated against Chum.
Everything that was done to him during the course of his brief existence was not only morally indefensible, but epitomizes everything that is so terribly wrong with how cats and other animals are treated in this world. Furthermore, by not prosecuting his killer, outlawing the creation of hybrids, and taking immediate concrete steps in order to protect the lives of those that already exist, humane groups have failed Chum in death every bit as much as they failed him in life.
In particular, creating Savannahs and other hybrid cats is an especially nasty business. Since it is difficult, if not impossible, to induce a forty-pound African Serval to mate with an eight-pound domestic cat, the impregnation process must be facilitated by either force or artificial insemination.
Because of genetic disparities, miscarriages and premature births are common. On top of that, high infant mortality rates, genetic deformities, and shorted life expectancies are suspected. Male Savannahs, for example, are sterile up until either the fourth or fifth generation.
As of 2005, there were at least one-hundred-twenty licensed breeders in the United States turning out Savannahs. With males fetching upwards of $4,000 apiece and females going for between $10,000 and $15,000, this dastardly form of animal cruelty and naked exploitation is a highly lucrative enterprise.
Individuals who purchase these cats, with the notable exception of those who do so in order to save lives, are every bit as guilty of animal cruelty as the breeders. They then compound their initial mistakes in judgment by mutilating and failing to protect them from the machinations of both private citizens and the authorities.
The crux of the matter is that it is too dangerous to allow these cats to roam and too difficult to keep them cooped up inside all the time. Sooner or later they are going to get out with, in most cases, disastrous results.
For example, a Savannah named Kimba escaped through a patio door in Regina, Saskatchewan, on August 31, 2007 and was on the lam for two months before he was humanely corralled by a farmer sixty kilometers away in Bethune and safely returned to his guardian. (See the Leader-Post of Regina, November 1, 2007, "Frantic Feline Search Ends Just Fine.")
Because of their high retail value, Savannahs also occasionally are stolen. That is exactly what happened to Sydney Williams' $10,000 cat Taz during the summer of 2007.
Mike Brock, a detective with the Sheriff's Department in Lee County, Florida, eventually was able to convince the thief, an unidentified construction worker, to surrender Taz and the cat subsequently was returned to Williams eight days later. (See WVVA-TV of Bluefield, West Virginia, November 5, 2007, "Cop Tracks Down Stolen $10,000 Cat" and Cat Defender post of February 20, 2008 entitled "Exotic and Hybrid Cats, Perennial Objects of Exploitation and Abuse, Are Now Being Mutilated, Abandoned, and Stolen.")
In addition to those that are lost and stolen, some owners cruelly abandon Savannahs and other exotic breeds once they either tire of their novelty or belatedly realize how difficult it is to care for them. This in turn has necessitated the founding of rescue groups in order to take in these valuable but unwanted cats.
The cats' appeal often is attributed to not only their exotic appearances but their canine personalities as well. With that being the case, a far more humane and compassionate alternative would be for individuals so disposed to either adopt a dog or to go on a sightseeing African safari. (See Cat Defender post of May 19, 2005 entitled "Savannahs: More Feline Cruelty Courtesy of the Capitalists and Bourgeoisie.")
As for all of the Savannahs, Asheras, Toygers, hypoallergenic cats, clones, and other so-called exotic breeds already in existence, they are the victims of both the greed of capitalists and the vanity of consumers and as such they are richly deserving of heightened protections from both the authorities and the law. It most definitely is not their fault that they are being forced to live between two worlds and if anyone is to be punished it should be their exploiters and abusers, not them.
Sadly, nothing will ever bring back Chum but his fellow hybrids do not have to suffer the same cruel fate that befell him. Nevertheless, if the outrageous abuses that plagued his life and the violent and illegal act which ended it are allowed to continue, his death will truly have been in vain.
Photos: WJBK-TV of Southfield, Michigan (Chum) and Brisbane Sunday Mail (domestic cat and Engel).