After Traveling for So Many Miles on the Bridport to Charmouth Bus, Dodger's Last Ride Is, Ironically, to the Vet Who Unconscionably Snuffs Out His Precious Life at the Urging of His Derelict Owner
|The Way They Were: Dodger and Fee Jeanes|
"It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I cancelled it twice."
-- Fee Jeanes
It recently has been learned that Dodger was killed off by his owner, forty-six-year-old Fee Jeanes of Bridport in Dorset, sometime in early February of 2012. Although his death is by now very old news, that in no way makes it either any less sad or revoltingly unjust.
Dodger, as it may be recalled by some, was a friendly and intrepid fifteen-year-old, ginger-colored tom who skyrocketed to international acclaim in December of 2011 when it was disclosed that he regularly rode the mass transit system in Dorset and Devonshire by his lonesome. Most notably, he was regular on First Bus's ten-mile run between Bridport and Charmouth.
At other times he could be found aboard the company's number fifty-three bus which operates along the Jurassic Coast between Poole in Dorset and Exeter in Devonshire. More often that not, however, he could be found hanging out at the bus station in Bridport. (See Cat Defender post of January 25, 2012 entitled "The Innocence of the Lambs: Unaware of the Dangers That Threaten His Very Existence, Dodger Charms Commuters on the Bridport to Charmouth Line.")
Jeanes allegedly had him killed off due to the presence of a stomach tumor that he is believed to have been diagnosed with sometime before Christmas of 2011. Since no additional details have been made public, it is difficult to know if the tumor could have been successfully treated with either surgery or some other means.
That which is not in dispute, however, is Jeanes's eternal gratitude to Bredy Veterinary Centre on Sea Road North for relieving her of both the expense and trouble of caring for an elderly and ailing cat. "Everyone at Bredy Vets has been brilliant all the way through this," she gushed to the Bridport News on February 22, 2012. (See "Dodger the Cat Is Put Down.")
By characterizing the bloodthirsty practitioners' dirty work in such glowing terms she is surely laying it on a bit thick because any idiot, shekel counter, and selfish, lazy bum can kill a cat. By contrast, recognizing that all cats have an inalienable right to live out their lives to the very end, cherishing every moment that they are alive, and being willing to do whatever is required in order to preserve and extend their all-too-brief existences is the first step on the road to true compassion and enlightenment.
The overwhelming majority of veterinarians, on the other hand, are little more than cold-hearted, bloodsucking mercenaries in that killing off unwanted cats, dogs, and other animals at the behest of their owners, shelters, and others constitutes a substantial portion of their practice. (See Cat Defender posts of March 19, 2014, January 11, 2012, December 22, 2011, and July 28, 2011 entitled, respectively, "Cheap and Greedy Moral Degenerates at PennVet Extend Their Warmest Christmas Greetings to an Impecunious, but Preeminently Treatable, Cat Via a Jab of Sodium Pentobarbital," "A Deadly Intrigue Concocted by a Thief, a Shelter, and a Veterinary Chain Costs Ginger the Continued Enjoyment of His Golden Years," "Rogue TNR Practitioner and Three Unscrupulous Veterinarians Kill at Least Sixty-Two Cats with the Complicity of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals," and "Tammy and Maddy Are Forced to Pay the Ultimate Price after Their Owner and an Incompetent Veterinarian Elect to Play Russian Roulette with Their Lives.")
For whatever it is worth, Jeanes insists that the decision to do in Dodger was anything but an easy one. "It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make," she swore to the Bridport News. "I cancelled it twice."
Even if she is being truthful, she likely only demurred because it was Christmas and she did not want to spoil that special time of the year for her three children, Jack, Emily, and William. It is, after all, well known that innumerable cat owners wait until after the holidays before killing off and abandoning their companions.
She additionally claims to be broken up about Dodger's demise. "The family are (sic) in tears," she confided to the Bridport News. "Poor old Dodger, it is very sad."
Even if her initial grief was real enough she certainly got over it awfully fast because soon thereafter she had graduated to rationalizing his death. "Dodger had a good life," she vouched to the Bridport News. "He was a brilliant cat and was spoilt rotten."
Named after the Artful Dodger in Charles Dickens' novel, Oliver Twist, he was renowned for befriending perfect strangers and gracing the laps of commuters. In particular, he is known to have substantially lifted the spirits of a sick woman on the number fifty-three bus by simply sitting on her lap.
"He made a lot of people happy," Jeanes told the Bridport News. "The response to him was amazing."
Dodger was buried in Jeanes's garden but it has not been disclosed if he was provided with either a memorial service or a tombstone. Jeanes did, however, put up a notice at the bus station in order to let both commuters and drivers know that they had seen the last of him.
Normally, that would have been the end of the matter, ashes to ashes and dust to dust as the Anglicans are fond of intoning, but since Dodger was such a special cat and because he had touched so many people his life and, especially, his death are deserving of additional examination. Although it is way too late to do him any good, such an inquiry might one day prove beneficial to other cats who are experiencing some of the same difficulties and challenges that plagued his life.
Most important of all is the question of how he became so fatally ill and, although the cause of leiomyosarcomas is unknown, it is strongly suspected that his diet could have been to blame. "He loves it there (the Birdport bus station) because there are lots of people around and they all drop their sandwiches and pork pies," Jeanes told the Dorset Echo of Weymouth on December 14, 2011. (See "Dodger the Cat Hops on Bridport Buses.")
Whereas an occasional sandwich and a pork pie would not have killed him, such a fare was woefully deficient in the nutrients and vitamins that he needed. A far better choice would have been a diet consisting of either commercial cat food or raw meat.
|Always the Perfect Gentleman, Dodger Waits for His Turn to Board|
Moreover, it is doubtful that he received much of either of those because he was so seldom home. "He is down there (at the bus station) all day and I have to go out in the night to make sure he is okay," Jeanes revealed to the Dorset Echo.
Every bit as alarming, there simply is not any way of knowing what he was picking up and being fed at either the bus station or on board the buses themselves. It is even conceivable that he could have been either intentionally poisoned or fed rotten meat. It should be axiomatic that no halfway responsible owner would want her cat to be scrounging around in the street for his next meal.
It also is pretty much a sure bet that if Jeanes so flagrantly neglected Dodger's diet, the same likely is true of his personal hygiene, grooming, and the care of minor injuries. It is not even known if she afforded him periodic veterinary check-ups.
All of those omissions pale in comparison, however, with her decision to turn him loose to roam both congested West Street and the buses night and day. In addition to the very real possibility that he might have been poisoned, Dodger easily could have been lost, stolen, or preyed upon by ailurophobes.
The biggest threat that he faced came from motorists, however. "Sometimes he just sits in the middle of the road and waits for the bus to turn up before he gets on," Jeanes acknowledged to the Daily Mail on December 15, 2011. (See "Pay? No, I've Got a Puss Pass...")
If she is still alive, a now seventeen-year-old, one-eyed cat named Krümel is likewise allowed by her irresponsible owner to not only sit but to sleep as well in the street out front of her home at the Hotel Garni Herold in Hattingen, Nordrhein Westfalen. (See Cat Defender post of September 17, 2012 entitled "Contrary to the Neighborhood Scuttlebutt, Krümel Is Alive and Well, at Least for the Time Being, at the Hotel Garni Herold.")
The English dearly cherish their peripatetic cats and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing them to roam if circumstances so warrant, they never should be permitted to venture out into busy streets. Furthermore, they should not knowingly be allowed to board buses and trains, except under rare circumstances, without there being someone to look after their safety and well-being. (See Cat Defender posts of December 5, 2006, April 19, 2007, January 31, 2014, and February 6, 2014 entitled, respectively, "Milo, Who Visits the Vet by Her Lonesome, Is Named Old Blighty's Most Adventurous Cat," "Bus Hopping Macavity Earns High Praise from His Fellow Commuters for Being the 'Perfect Passenger'," "Northumbrian Shrink Lays Claim to the Title of Being the World's Most Irresponsible Cat Owner by Turning Loose Jasper to Roam the Perilous Tyne and Wear Metro for Weeks on End," and "Lovable and Adventurous Percy Is Still Very Much Alive and Safely Riding the Miniature Trains in Scarborough.")
Instead of taking decisive and concrete action in order to have eliminated the myriad of dangers that imperiled Dodger's life, Jeanes instead relied upon her children, the operators of First Bus's fleet of chariots, commuters, and the general public to do her duty for her. Even more appalling, she remained unconcerned about both his safety and well-being right up until the bitter end.
"He's absolutely fine," she swore to the Dorset Echo in the article cited supra. "He comes home and sleeps at the end of my bed and spends the rest of the day at the bus station."
With such a laissez-faire attitude toward him, it is not really all that surprising that she had him killed off at the first opportunity that was presented to her. As an added incentive, she furthermore claims that he had of late begun to lose his marbles and that as a result she was getting five to six telephone calls a day from concerned citizens to go and collect him from various parts of Bridport.
Not only has she failed to produce so much as a shred of evidence in order to back up her claim, but dementia is not normally considered to be a side effect of leiomyosarcoma. A far more plausible explanation is that Dodger had lost neither his mind nor changed his habits but rather that the increased concern voiced by Jeanes's neighbors was attributable to his newfound fame.
It also is not totally out of the question that she, a lifelong hoofer since the age of three, was simply too busy managing the Fee Jeanes Toddlers Ballet on Victoria Grove Street and promoting her daughter Emily's career as a dancer in order to be bothered with the additional responsibilities that came with Dodger's notoriety which, ironically, she knowingly had foisted upon both him and herself. As a consequence, she then cooked up the sottise about him being senile as just one more rationale for having him whacked.
Besides, she candidly admits to caring only about hoofing. "It is something I love doing. I guess it started as a hobby and has just gone from strength to strength," she proclaims on her web site. "Seeing children having fun, while at the same time learning basic ballet with good discipline and enjoyment is what is important to me."
It nonetheless is nothing short of a profound pity that she cared so little about Dodger because he unquestionably was worth considerably more than either hers or Emily's hoofing careers. To put the matter in even blunter terms, he most assuredly deserved far better than a vainglorious shekel chaser for a guardian.
It is utterly outrageous but far too many cat owners are, like Jeanes, strictly fair weather guardians. C'est-à-dire, they dearly covet the unconditional love and companionship that cats offer so long as they neither cost nor trouble them too much. Once their loyal companions become either sickly or simply inconvenient to have around any longer they do not think twice about getting rid of them.
Although the cold-blooded liquidation of elderly, sickly, and unwanted cats is every bit as socially acceptable as the slaughtering of tens of trillions of terrestrial animals each year for the dinner table, that in no way makes it any less morally objectionable. Nevertheless, private individuals commit countless numbers of these dastardly deeds every day without so much as a twinge of remorse. (See Cat Defender posts of October 27, 2008 and March 12, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Loved and Admired All Over the World, Feline Heroine Scarlett Is Killed Off by Her Owner after She Becomes Ill" and "Too Cheap and Lazy to Care for Him During His Final Days, Betty Currie Has Socks Killed Off and His Corpse Burned.")
Some of these moral degenerates even have been known to stoop so low as to cash in on their unconscionable crimes. (See Cat Defender post of July 17, 2013 entitled "Not Satisfied with Merely Whacking Meiko, Garrison Keillor Struts on Stage in Order to Shed a Bucketful of Crocodile Tears and to Denigrate the Entire Species.")
|Dodger Was Forced to Turn to Strangers for Both Love and Sustenance|
Even those public institutions and businesses that have money to burn, such as public libraries and newspapers, are not about to care for elderly and sick cats. (See Cat Defender posts of December 7, 2006 and February 9, 2006 entitled, respectively, "After Nineteen Years of Service and Companionship, Ingrates at Iowa Library Murder Dewey Readmore Books" and "Newspaper Cat Named Tripod Is Killed Off by Journalists He Befriended in Vermont.")
So-called no-kill shelters and even Alley Cat Allies have absolutely no qualms about killing cats. (See Cat Defender posts of October 23, 2012 and January 2, 2013 entitled, respectively, "A Supposedly No-Kill Operation in Marblehead Betrays Sally and Snuffs Out Her Life Instead of Providing Her with a Home and Veterinary Care" and "Alley Cat Allies Demonstrates Its Utter Contempt for the Sanctity of Life by Unconscionably Killing Off Its Office Cat, Jared.")
When it comes to homeless cats, the killing season never ends. Most of these heinous crimes are perpetrated by Animal Control officers, shelters, and cops but occasionally even their trusted caretakers cannot resist the temptation to take up arms against them. (See Cat Defender post of September 28, 2011 entitled "Marvin Is Betrayed, Abducted, and Murdered by a Journalist and a Shelter Who Preposterously Maintain That They Were Doing Him a Favor.")
Although PETA likes to claim that all homeless cats are better off dead than alive, that is a thoroughly disingenuous argument because it feels exactly the same way about all cats. (See Cat Defender posts of October 7, 2011, January 29, 2007, and February 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "PETA Traps and Kills a Cat and Then Shamelessly Goes Online in Order to Brag about Its Criminal and Foul Deed," "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.")
Jeanes's treatment of Dodger is further called into question by the timing of events. For instance, the Bridport News reported on December 21, 2011 that it was actually she who first contacted it about doing a story on her cat. (See "National Newshounds on the Trail of Dodger the Bus Puss.")
Coinciding as it did with the announcement soon thereafter that Dodger was suffering from stomach cancer, it would appear in retrospect that Jeanes knew that he was dying and accordingly acted with alacrity in order to capitalize on his growing popularity around Bridport before he kicked the bucket. As best as it could be determined, however, there is not any evidence to support the conclusion that she, unlike Susan Finden of Plymouth, followed through on her initial plans and has in any way profited financially from Dodger's death. (See Cat Defender posts of August 27, 2009 and January 30, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Casper Treats Himself to an Unescorted Tour Around Plymouth Each Morning Courtesy of the Number Three Bus" and "Casper Is Run Down and Killed by a Hit-and-Run Taxi Driver While Crossing the Street in Order to Get to the Bus Stop.")
As is the case with just about all cats, both the famous as well as those who live out their lives in obscurity, not a great deal is known about Dodger's life. For example, it has not even been publicly disclosed either where he was born or how long that he had lived with Jeanes and her family.
Equally important, it would be interesting to know what his life was like before he was relocated to West Street. For instance, did he also roam and ride public transit at his old address?
The only thing about him that seems to be relatively certain is that his riding of the buses in Bridport was a fairly recent development. "We moved here nineteen months ago and our house backs on to the bus station," she disclosed to the Daily Mail in the article cited supra.
It therefore might not be too far-fetched to conclude that it was precisely the close proximity of his house to the bus station coupled with Jeanes's abject neglect of him that drove him into the arms of the commuters. After that, either one of them carried him on board or otherwise he found his way aboard by himself.
Even Jeanes herself admits that it was precisely the siren call of the free food, warm laps, and the attention showered on him by both commuters and drivers alike that attracted him to the buses. That tends to make sense in that it is unlikely that either boredom, Wanderlust, or eros still held much of an appeal for a tom of his advanced years.
Nevertheless, the mere fact that Dodger was forced to venture Weit und Breit in order to procure the nourishment and nurturing that he so cruelly was denied at home is in itself a staggering indictment of Jeanes's misconduct as a guardian. Even more damnable, it very well could have been her neglect of him that shortened his life.
No matter how Dodger's short, tragic life is analyzed it is impossible to come away with any other conclusion than that he richly deserved to have been blessed with a far more attentive and caring guardian than Jeanes. By failing to fulfill her solemn obligations to him, she shortchanged not only him but, ultimately, herself as well.
"I know a lot of people are going to be very disappointed and saddened that Dodger has gone," she predicted to the Bridport News in the February 22, 2012 article cited supra.
That is putting the matter rather mildly in that he leaves behind not only the hundreds of commuters whose lives he touched so profoundly simply through his presence on the buses and at the Bridport station, but thousands of others who learned of his existence via the Internet, the Today Show on Australian television, and the women's weekly magazine, Chat. Even the suits at Whiskas were so impressed by him and his exploits that they once sent him a parcel of treats.
Sadly, he is gone now and both Bridport and the world are all the poorer. Even more disquieting, it is too late to recall him from the grave and to belatedly shower him with the love and nourishment that he was forced into cadging in random, intermittent installments from perfect strangers.
Photos: Daily Mail.