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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

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Uprooted from Home and Left Stranded Thousands of Miles Away, Spice Discovers to Her Horror That Not All the Ghouls and Goblins in This World Are Necessarily to Be Found on Halloween


“I saw something move in the bag. I didn’t know what it could have been. Out popped the cat’s head. It was pretty cool.”
-- Bob Watterson

Spice is a little kitten with three big secrets. Not the least of which is how did the pretty six-month-old gray and white female ever make it all the way from Albuquerque to Portland in less than five days?

Her second secret is the identity of the person who cruelly and irresponsibly zipped her up in a duffel bag on November 5th and then abandoned her on the doorstep of Threads of Hope, a Catholic thrift shop located at 244 St. John’s Street. From that point forward, her story has been meticulously documented but her past remains shrouded in both mystery and intrigue.

Local handyman Bob Watterson was the first to notice the bag and, mistakenly thinking that it contained a donation, he picked it up and carried it inside the old rag shop. His first inclination turned out to be correct in that it did contain a donation but it was not the type that the historically money-mad Catholics easily could convert into the hard currency that they so desperately crave.

“I saw something move in the bag. I didn’t know what it could have been,” he later told the Albuquerque Journal on November 21st. (See “Albuquerque Kitty Turns Up in Gym Bag in Maine.”) “Out popped the cat’s head. It was pretty cool.”

As far as it is known, neither anyone working inside the store nor passing by on the street outside saw who it was that left behind the bag. Regardless of whatever else that can be said about the dirty deed it certainly was a rather bold undertaking coming as it did not only in broad daylight but during business hours as well.

It also was planned well in advance in that the bag contained both cat litter and canned food. It is far from clear, however, if the choice of the shop was intentional or mere happenstance.

Under the former scenario its selection possibly could indicate that the culprit is a Catholic in that it is difficult to comprehend anyone else being willing to entrust the care of any cat to an institution that for millenniums has meted out nothing but diabolic abuse to members of the species. On the other hand, religion may not have played any role whatsoever in Spice’s plight in that individuals abandon cats all the time, in all sorts of places, and under all types of circumstances.

For instance, some individuals even deposit them both inside and outside of bins that are used in order to collect old clothes and, in Angleterre, bottles and cans. Nevertheless, since so many of these abandonments take place on Boxing Day that suggests that Christmas holds some sort of significance in the lives of the perpetrators of these outrageous acts.

Regardless of the motivation behind abandonments of this type, it seems clear that the culprits look upon unwanted cats in much the same fashion as they do old clothes. Even if their heartfelt desire is to spare their victims trips to the killing fields that masquerade as shelters, that ploy most often backfires.

In a case that bears a striking resemblance to the cruel fate that befell Spice, a seven-week-old calico kitten named Sleepy was sealed up in a brown box on June 24, 2009 and deposited in the heat and humidity on the doorstep of a mattress store at 2555 Grand Army of the Republic Highway in Swansea, seventy-seven kilometers south of Boston. Without either water, ventilation, or food, save for a few morsels of kibble, she surely would not have survived for long without the intervention of store employee Michael Medeiros.

Sleepy. Where Is She Now?

“When I tossed the box on my desk, I heard a meow,” he later recalled. Even after she had dodged that bullet, she nonetheless was incarcerated at the Ernest W. Bell Animal Shelter on Stevens Road and that was the last ever to be heard of her. (See Cat Defender post of July 3, 2009 entitled “Pretty Little Sleepy Survives a Suffocation and Starvation Attempt on Her Life Thanks to the Timely Intervention of a Mattress Store Employee.”)

For ever so briefly it at first appeared that Spice had side-stepped Sleepy’s fate when Watterson took her home to live with him, his wife, teenage daughter, dog, and resident feline. Once she had committed the faux pas of pissing in his bed he however quickly dropped her like a hot potato on November 11th at the Animal Rescue League of Greater Portland (ARLGP) in nearby Westbrook.

As part of the shelter’s routine intake procedure, Spice was scanned upon arrival for an implanted microchip and that is how that it belatedly was learned that she hails from Albuquerque. Her owner, who was contacted three days later by ARLGP, revealed at that time that she had adopted the cat earlier this year from a shelter in Albuquerque and that is likely where the chip was implanted.

The woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, was unable however to shine much light on Spice’s cross-county misadventures. All that is known is that she resides in a “large apartment complex” and that Spice vanished sometime during the evening of October 31st while she was handing out candy and other goodies to children on Halloween.

With that being the case, what happened to her on that fatal evening constitutes Spice’s third secret. For her part, her owner claims to be every bit as surprised as everyone else that she wound up so far away from home.

“She was floored, absolutely stunned. She doesn’t know anyone in Maine and has never been here, so she had no idea how the cat got here,” Patsy Murphy of ARLGP told the Today Show on November 21st. (See “Lost Cat Trying to Go Home for Holidays after Mysterious Twenty-Three-Hundred Mile Trip.”) “English is not her first language, and she is very shy, but she desperately wants the cat back.”

That may or may not be true but she does not want Spice back badly enough in order to foot the bill for her return. “She does want her cat back,” Murphy’s sidekick, Jeana Roth, affirmed to the Bangor Daily News on November 22nd. (See “Kitten That Went Missing from New Mexico Found in Portland.”) “Unfortunately she doesn’t have the financial means to send Spice across the country home.”

In that regard she is far from being alone because ARLGP also answers the roll call for all those blessed with deep pockets but, regrettably, short arms. Specifically, the charity claims that it does not have so much as a lousy sou to spare in order to transport Spice back home. It thus would appear that a few drops of errant piss are not the only constraint upon the amount of compassion that both guardians and rescue groups alike have to offer a kitten in extremis.

As difficult as it may be for some contemporaries to comprehend, a lack of money was not always the deal breaker that it is today. Veterinarians, physicians, and other professionals used to be more than willing to work with the impecunious and that in turn gave birth to such venerable old practices as paying on time, lay-away plans, and payment in kind.

There even used to be old-fashioned virtues such as generosity, compassion, and liberality. For the most part, however, all of them have gone with the wind; today, the only tie that binds is cold, hard cash.

Spice Incarcerated at ARLGP in Westbrook

Sandwiched in between a representative from the anti-pissing brigade on the one hand and a pair of confirmed tightwads on the other hand, it sure looked like little Spice’s fate had been sealed. No one, however, should ever underestimate the resourcefulness of a group as well-connected as ARLGP.

It accordingly did what it does best and went begging on bended knee to one of its sugar daddies, Jonathan W. Ayers of IDEXX Laboratories, a multinational headquartered in Westbrook that develops and manufactures diagnostic, detection, and information systems for use by both small and large animal veterinarians. Always on the lookout for opportunities in order to burnish both his and his company's public image, he readily agreed to help return Spice home to her owner.

“It really touched my heart,” he told the Portland Press Herald on November 21st. (See “Wayward Kitten Will Fly Home to New Mexico from Maine.”) “She’s a miracle cat, and I felt like I could do something to complete the miracle.”

All of that would have been more than sufficient but Ayers did not stop there, however. “It just immediately struck me that there was a very strong bond between this pet owner and Spice,” he declared to the Albuquerque Journal in the article cited supra without disclosing how that he had arrived at that conclusion. “When I read Spice’s story, I realized she really wanted to go home.”

Initial plans called for Ayers to not only pay for Spice's transportation but also to pony up for a staffer from ARLGP to accompany her. "We don't want Spice to incur any more stress than she already has," he vowed to the Albuquerque Journal.

A quick turnaround also was promised. "We're hoping to get her on a plane within the next two weeks at most, and we know Thanksgiving is next week and it would be wonderful to get her home for the holidays (sic)," Roth told the Portland Press Herald in the article cited supra.

That is not the way things eventually worked out in that it was not until December 4th that Spice actually was put on a homeward bound plane. A lingering common cold that she had been battling has been cited in press reports as the reason for the delay but that may not be the entire story.

After arriving in Albuquerque Spice, who was accompanied by Murphy, was taken by ground transportation to the Animal Welfare Department's eastside shelter at 8920 Lomas Boulevard where she received a homecoming welcome worthy of a conquering hero. The media was on hand in order to record the event for the sake of posterity and the facility was festooned with "Welcome Home" balloons and a Christmas stocking with her name on it was pinned to a poster.

Her mysterious owner, however, was conspicuously absent. She was scheduled to have taken custody of Spice later in the day but that is a rather questionable outcome in that if she truly loved Spice she would not have missed her homecoming for anything in the world.

"She was a big little deal," Murphy told the Albuquerque Journal on December 5th. (See "Well-Traveled Cat Welcomed Home in Albuquerque.") "We got calls from all over from people who wanted to pay to reunite the cat and her family. Calls came from New York, California, Texas, New Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, China, and Germany."

Spice and Jonathan W. Ayers

It remains unclear, however, who actually paid for what and how many staffers from ARLGP were in Spice's party. The Portland Press Herald reported on December 3rd that it actually was Southwest Airlines and not Ayers who had paid for Spice's flight. Also, Spice was scheduled to have been accompanied by both Murphy and Roth with Ayers footing the bill for their overnight stay in an Albuquerque hotel. (See "Cat from New Mexico That Was Found in Maine Will Fly Home Thursday.")

The Albuquerque Journal, however, claims in the December 5th article cited supra that it actually was Ayers who paid for Spice's airfare and that only Murphy accompanied her. Of course, it is always conceivable that while Murphy was occupied with dropping off  Spice that Roth was living it up back at the hotel with a daiquiri in one hand and a dog-eared copy of Portnoy's Complaint in the other. The paper further claims that the only thing that Southwest contributed was a crate for Spice to ride in but that, even if true, seems to be rather superfluous in that ARLGP surely has plenty of spare pet carriers.

Regardless of what actually transpired, Spice quite obviously did not either need or require two chaperones and that gives rise to speculation that a donnybrook broke out between Murphy and Roth as to which of them was going to get the free trip to Albuquerque. On the other hand, perhaps they simply put their opportunistic noggins together and decided to stick it to both Southwest and Ayres.

That is not nitpicking considering that multitudes of cats are either dying or being systematically exterminated every day of the week because of a lack of guardians, shelter, food, and veterinary care. All the money that both Southwest and Ayres conceivably squandered on flying, housing, and feeding the superfluous staffer could have been much better spent on cats in need. Moreover, such crass, self-serving behavior exposes the true values and priorities of all those involved.

Back in the autumn of 2005 when a thirteen-month-old brown and gray female named Emily from Appleton, Wisconsin, accidentally became trapped inside a shipping container and wound up in Nancy her return was handled much differently. For starters, Raflatac, the laminating and labeling company that had unwittingly imported her, not only tracked down her owners from information contained on her identification tag but also paid her mandatory quarantine fee of $210.

Continental Airlines then magnanimously flew her home in a $6,000 business class seat. Furthermore, the airline certainly did not provide her with any superfluous chaperones.

Rather, George Chiladze accompanied her on the first leg of her flight from Charles de Gaulle Airport, outside of Paris, to Newark. From there on to General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee she was in the care of Gaylia McLeod.

"I know it is close to the holidays," McLeod acknowledged at that time. "I'm happy to be a part of reuniting Emily with her family." Chiladze felt the same way. "I will make somebody really happy to deliver this poor traveler back home," he said sincerely.

The differences in how Emily and Spice were treated are illuminating. In the former's case, both Raflatac and Continental acted out of compassion and without either any grandstanding or overt self-interest. The same most definitely cannot be said for ARLGP, Ayers, and Southwest who have milked Spice's misfortune for all that it is worth.

Most impressive of all, Emily's eternally loving and grateful owners, Donny and Lesley McElhiney and their then nine-year-old son, Nicky, did not flinch at having to drive one-hundred-seventy-three kilometers to the airport in order to be on hand to throw their arms around her as soon as she was taken off the plane. (See Cat Defender post of December 9, 2005 entitled "Adventurous Wisconsin Cat Named Emily Makes Unscheduled Trip to France in the Hold of a Cargo Ship.")

Spice and Patsy Murphy Meet the Press in Albuquerque

Attempting to make sense out of Spice's biggest secret is not an easy task. Be that as it may, the same rules apply in this instance as they do in solving all riddles and puzzles.

Most important of all, nothing can be taken at face value. In this case, Spice's owner simply could be lying.

For example, Spice could have urinated in her bed and as a result she either abandoned her or gave her away to an acquaintance. In that light it would be interesting to know if she reported Spice's disappearance to either the Animal Welfare Department or the police. Also, did she make either any inquiries in her apartment building or put up any Lost Cat posters?

If she did not deliberately choose to get rid of Spice, it then follows that she either was stolen, accidentally picked up by a cat-lover who thought that she was homeless, or she accidentally, like Emily, became trapped inside some kind of movable object. Although cats have been known to walk tremendous distances in order to return to their homes, Spice most definitely did not walk all the way to Portland in less than five days. (See Cat Defender post of April 27, 2007 entitled "French Chat Named Mimine Walks Eight-Hundred Kilometers to Track Down Family That Abandoned Her.")

She therefore most assuredly transversed the twenty-three-hundred-mile distance using some type of modern conveyance. Considering how quickly that she arrived in Portland, it would seem that par avion would be most logical choice.

Unless she was either transported aboard a private plane or smuggled onto a commercial airliner, that could be easily checked because all major carriers maintain records pertaining to all cats and other animals that fly with them. It is doubtful, however, that the lazy rotters at ARLGP even bothered to look into the matter; on the contrary, they were far too busy plotting how best to exploit Spice's misfortune for their own benefit in order to waste time doing any serious detective work.

With the notable exceptions of service animals and an ongoing pilot project for pets in Illinois, Amtrak does not normally allow animals on board its trains. Its eastbound Southwest Chief does make one daily stop in Albuquerque but that train terminates in Chicago.

Therefore, even if  Spice had been smuggled aboard she and her handler would have been forced to change trains and then to continue on from there to Portland. Even under that scenario it is unlikely that they could have completed such an arduous trek in five days.

BNSF Railway also stops in Albuquerque on its way to Chicago and although cats have been known to hop freight trains by their lonesome, that seems unlikely in this instance due to Spice's tender years. (See Cat Defender post of June 7, 2007 entitled "Rascal Hops on a Freight Train in South Bend and Unwittingly Winds Up in Chattanooga.")

Greyhound operates between Albuquerque and Portland and it is remotely conceivable that Spice could have been smuggled aboard one of its buses. Individuals smuggle cats and small dogs aboard them all the time but that activity is usually confined to its much shorter runs, such as between Manhattan and Atlantic City.

Emily and George Chiladze Aboard Continental Airlines

Since traveling by boat is totally out of the question, that leaves only trucks and automobiles at Spice's disposal. Given that innumerable cats have been known to unwittingly crawl into either commercial trucks or to be carried aboard them after secreting themselves away in packages and furniture, that is a real possibility in Spice's case. (See Cat Defender posts of November 6, 2006 and August 18, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Trapped in a Moving Van for Five Days, Texas Cat Named Neo Is Finally Freed in Colorado" and "Ronaldo Escapes Death after Retailer Coughs Up the Exorbitant Bounty That Quarantine Officials Had Placed on His Head.")

It is even conceivable that she was sent through the mail. (See Cat Defender post of July 21, 2008 entitled "Janosch Survives Being Sent Through the Post from Bayern to the Rhineland.")

If Spice did not travel by truck, the next most likely explanation is that she was transported by car. That assumption is based not only upon the short amount of time that her journey took, but also the circumstances surrounding her abandonment in Portland.

It thus would appear that she was acquired, either legitimately or by nefarious means, by someone in Albuquerque, driven to Portland, and then dumped at Threads of Hope. (See Cat Defender post of July 25, 2014 entitled "Poussey Overcomes a Surprise Boat Ride to Dover, a Stint on Death Row, and Being Bandied About Like a Flying Dutchman in Order to Finally Make It Home to La Havre.")

In the final analysis, it is highly unlikely that the truth ever will be known. Spice's abductor, who could be either a permanent resident of the Portland area or someone merely passing through town, is not about to come forward and make a public confession, her guardian is not talking to the media, and Spice does not speak any language that her human counterparts are able to comprehend.

In spite of the volumes of laudatory media coverage that all of those involved in this affair have received, a closer examination of both the facts and circumstances reveals that none of them are heroes. On the contrary, by their words and deeds they have unwittingly exposed much of what is dreadfully wrong with both cat ownership as well as those individuals and groups who are responsible for their safety, well-being, and health.

In addition to her owner's carelessness, cheapness and, above all, unwillingness to collect her at the airport, Watterson's callous mistreatment and abandonment of Spice is totally inexcusable. First of all, since he blew his stack over a little bit of urine it is frightening to think what he might have done to her if she had either pooped or vomited in his house.

Secondly, by abandoning her at ARLGP he very easily could have initialed her death warrant. No one connected with the organization has been willing to publicly speculate as to what it would have done with Spice if the implanted microchip had not been detected and deciphered, but the possibilities are anything but pleasant to contemplate.

Once it was learned that she was Albuquerque, however, the shelter immediately recognized that it had a proverbial gold mine in both free publicity and donations on its hands and that is the principal reason that it went to such extravagant lengths in order to reunite her with her owner as opposed to getting out the sodium pentobarbital. The free, all expenses paid, late autumn vacation to sunny Albuquerque that Murphy, and possibly Roth, so adroitly finagled for herself was icing on the cake.

Emily Is Reunited with the McElhineys at the Airport  

Just how perilously close Watterson came to dooming Spice is perhaps best illustrated by what happened on December 23, 2010 to a gray cat named Jack-in-the-Box from Troy, New York. Because he, like Spice, was urinating outside of his litter box his owner, Robin Becker, fobbed him off onto then forty-eight-year-old Michael T. Walsh of 10 Woodbridge Avenue who in turn had pledged to dump him at a shelter.

Apparently too cheap to even purchase a pet carrier, either Becker or Walsh sealed up Jack in a cardboard box but when he, justifiably terrified to death, let go with another burst of hot, smelly piss that was the end of the line. Instead of proceeding on to the shelter as agreed upon, Walsh promptly deposited him at the curb of One-Hundred-Ninth and One-Hundred-Tenth streets at the junction of Third and Fourth avenues in the Lansingburgh section of town to be collected by the garbageman.

Jack surely would have been either crushed to death by a trash compactor or dumped in a landfill if his plight had not accidentally come to the attention of Melissa Lombardo who was out walking a pit bull named Phoebe that she was fostering. "I was shocked and sad. I felt bad for the cat," she later told WXAA-TV of Albany on December 23, 2010. (See "Abandoned Cat Found 'Miracle on One-Hundred-Tenth Street'.") "It was obviously scared. It was crying."

Lombardo contacted the Troy Police who took Jack to the Troy Veterinary Hospital where he was treated for exposure to the bitter cold that grips upstate New York during that time of the year. Becker later saw a story about him on television and contacted the authorities who subsequently arrested Walsh on December 30th and charged him with three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.

As for Jack, he was scheduled to have gone to a new home sometime during the first week of January of 2011. (See Cat Defender post of October 14, 2011 entitled "Chucked Out in the Trash, Tabitha Winds Up in an Oxygen Chamber with Four Broken Ribs, an Injured Lung, and Pneumonia.")

In addition to being cruel and heartless, Watterson also is guilty of being terribly shortsighted in that if he lives long enough he, like just about all men, is almost certain to come down with an enlarged prostate and the incontinence that accompanies the malady. Once that happens he is once again going to be relegated to wearing diapers, pissing all over himself, and stinking up someone else's house.

Unlike Spice, however, his condition is not going to be either temporary or one that he is going to be able to outgrow. In comparison, occasionally being forced to clean up a little cat urine and feces is of no consequence, especially if doing so saves a life.

The case against Ayers and IDEXX is a good deal more sordid. First of all, the company employs nearly six-thousand workers at forty locations around the world and in 2013 it had revenues of $1.38 billion.

Ayers himself knocked down almost four-million dollars last year in salary, stocks, and other assorted perks. Even though he does own four cats, the only thing known for certain that he did for Spice was to pick up her veterinary tab; the largess that he squandered on Murphy and Roth does not count.

Emily and Nicky. Is That Not Worth More Than Money?

His cheapness even extends to fundraisers held by ARLGP. For instance, at an open house held on December 6th IDEXX raffled off a measly $300 Visa gift card and a paid adoption fee for the lucky winner. (See the American Journal of Westbrook, December 4, 2014, "Westbrook Notes, December 4th.")

That is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg, however, as far as Ayers and his colleagues at IDEXX are concerned in that they are god-rotten, scum-of-the-earth vivisectors! Quite obviously, all of the tests, procedures, and instruments that the company develops and manufactures for veterinarians and others must first be tested on cats, dogs, and other animals.

In that light it is imperative that the company be investigated in order to determine where it gets its cats and other animals, the conditions under which they are housed, the tests performed on them, and what ultimately becomes of them. Needless to say, giving a few quid to ARLGP pales in comparison with the innumerable cats that are tortured and killed in IDEXX's laboratories.

The atrocities that take place in its Livestock and Poultry Diagnostics Division surely must trump even those committed by its Companion Animal Group. For example, it is estimated that seven-trillion terrestrial animals are slaughtered each year in the United States alone for consumption and that does not even begin to include the unspeakable abuse meted out to dairy cows and laying hens.

On a more fundamental level, veterinary medicine as it is practiced today is nothing less than a fraud and a disgrace. For instance, small animal practitioners normally will not treat either cats that belong to the impecunious or those that are homeless. (See Cat Defender post of March 19, 2014 entitled "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.")

At the same time they are more than willing to kill off, for a fee, cats that simply have grown either old or incontinent. (See Cat Defender posts of October 18, 2014 and August 27, 2014 entitled, respectively, "Hamish McHamish's Derelict Owner Reenters His Life after Fourteen Years of Abject Neglect Only to Have Him Killed Off after He Contracts a Preeminently Treatable Common Cold" and "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.")

They also work hand in glove with shelters and rescue groups in the commission of their myriad of crimes. (See Cat Defender posts of January 11, 2012 and December 22, 2011 entitled, respectively, "A Deadly Intrigue Concocted by a Thief, a Shelter, and a Veterinary Chain Costs Ginger the Continued Enjoyment of His Golden Years" and "Rogue TNR Practitioner and Three Unscrupulous Veterinarians Kill at Least Sixty-Two Cats with the Complicity of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC Animals.")

Likewise, the wholesale atrocities committed against animals that are raised for their flesh, milk, eggs, and other body parts would hardly be possible without the able-bodied assistance of large animal veterinarians. Members of this thoroughly immoral profession also experiment on defenseless animals themselves and IDEXX is up to its eyeballs in aiding and abetting them in the commission of their crimes.

For example, with locations in Columbia, Missouri, West Sacramento, and Ludwigsburg in Baden- Württemberg, as well as at its flagship office in Westbrook, IDEXX's Bioresearch division is devoted to testing, monitoring, and studying diseases in research animals. Included in all of that devilry is unspecified genetic research, cold-blooded vivisection itself, and the inculcation of veterinary and graduate students in the ancient art of torturing defenseless animals to death.

As thoroughly reprehensible and patently immoral as all of that is, it has not deterred ARLGP the least little bit from frolicking in the hay with Ayers and IDEXX. "IDEXX is a generous supporter of the ARLGP, and we are very appreciative of their help getting this little lady back to her family," the organization proclaimed recently in an undated press release posted on its web site. (See "Spice, Kitten from New Mexico Mysteriously Lands at ARLGP!") "Please join us in putting our paws in the air for IDEXX and Jon Ayers."

Jack-in-the Box and Veterinary Assistant Natasha Stalker 

Besides that, ARLGP is not only cheap but greedy and opportunistic as well. "To support animals like Spice, who come to the ARLGP in need of treatment, shelter, and care, please consider making a donation to our treatment care fund to support our life-saving programs," the organization pleaded in the press release cited supra. "Every dollar makes a difference."

There undoubtedly is much truth in that last declaration but it is suspected that the difference is more often than not reflected in Roth's and Murphy's bank accounts than in the lives of animals in need. As revolting as that may be, it is merely the norm with most animal rescue groups.

For example, when it comes to cases of animal cruelty most of these organizations categorically refuse to even launch investigations. Instead, they content themselves with appealing to the public for donations while offering beau geste rewards for information that they know full well they never will be forced to honor. (See Cat Defender post of January 6, 2010 entitled "Large Reward Fails to Lead to the Capture of the Archer Who Shot an Arrow Through Brownie's Head.")

The organization additionally continues to dishonestly trumpet the value of implanted microchips. "Spice's journey speaks to the importance of microchipping and providing identification tags for your cat or dog," the shelter stated in the press release cited supra. "Microchipping is a low-cost service we provide right here at the ARLGP, for just $35."

Clearly, microchips are just another of its numerous money-making scams in that quite a few entities, such as Animal Humane New Mexico and the city of Albuquerque, sometimes offer this service for free. Even Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in south London is offering the service gratis during the run-up to a new mandatory microchipping law that targets canines and is scheduled to go into effect on April 6, 2016. (See "Battersea's Five-Hundred-Day Countdown to Compulsory Microchipping" at www.battersea.org.uk.)

As it should be perfectly obvious to any thinking person, microchips do not offer cats so much as an inkling of protection against both humans and animals intent upon doing them harm. (See Cat Defender post of May 25, 2006 entitled "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats.")

"It's wonderful when you read about these reunions, but unfortunately for ninety per cent of lost cats, there is no returning home," Lorie Chortyk of the BCSPCA told The Province of Vancouver on January 2, 2011. (See "Cats Rarely Come Back.")

Additionally, microchips are sometimes difficult to locate and decipher, the contact information contained in the databases that they are linked up to is not always kept updated, and they have been known to cause cancer. (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.")

Perhaps most egregious of all, ARLGP is opposed to both homeless cats and TNR. "We hope that the message here is that if you have a stray animal in your neighborhood, use your shelter as a resource," Roth declared to the Bangor Daily News on September 4th. (See "Stray Cat Survives Shotgun Blast from Gorham Police Officer Who Thought Feline Was Rabid.")

Since very few cats that enter shelters alive ever come out in the same condition, it is anything but surprising that ARLGP intentionally fails to disclose its kill-rate on its web site. Although it does place some cats with farmers as mousers, it also is mum on the subject of sanctuaries.

Spice Contemplates an Uncertain Future. Que Será, Será.

Instead of defending and caring for the animals that need it most, ARLGP is guilty of not only accepting receipt of shekels that are encrusted with the blood of murdered animals, such as those given to it by Ayers, but also of sucking up to both the Gorham Police Department (GPD) and Animal Control after they conspired to have a falsely accused and totally innocent cat named Clark gunned down in cold blood on August 20th. "We had a meeting with the Gorham Police Department and we talked about communications and working together," Murphy disclosed back in September. "We're happy to work with the Animal Control officer and community to get strays into shelters."

After the way in which those two agencies attacked and nearly killed Clark any halfway legitimate animal protection group would have immediately brought animal cruelty charges against both of them and the fact that ARLGP freely chose to do the exact opposite is just one more staggering indictment against it. (See Cat Defender post of September 27, 2014 entitled "Falsely Branded as Being Rabid by a Cat-Hater, an Animal Control Officer, and the Gorham Police Department, Clark Is Hounded Down and Blasted with a Shotgun.")

It is a difficult lesson for both individuals and groups alike to learn but money is the elixir of life as far as most people are concerned. With that being the norm, it is imperative that individuals and groups that cherishes their independence and freedom have their own sources of funding and that does not include bumming from vivisectors, the government, churches, or anyone else for that matter.

In that respect, ARLGP's sellout to IDEXX, the GPD, and others, stands in stark juxtaposition to the behavior of practitioners of TNR who not only donate their time and labor but also pay for their cats' food, milk, shelter, veterinary care, and legal protection out of their own pockets. Unashamed of a little honest toil, most of them labor at uninspiring, low-paying, dead-end jobs but their sacrifices allow them to maintain both their integrity and independence.

ARLGP's legitimacy as an animal protection group is further tarnished by the petit fait that it does not have to associate with the likes of Ayers and IDEXX. Even Murphy herself has publicly admitted that her organization had dozens of offers from individuals around the world who were willing to come to Spice's aid but yet she shunned all of them in favor of accepting shekels from a vivisector.

It is anyone's guess as to what kind of life Spice has been able to resurrect for herself upon her return to Albuquerque. The very best that can be hoped is that she has not once again gone from the frying pan into the fire.

Perhaps the Animal Welfare Department occasionally will look in on her in order to see how she is doing but even that is doubtful. Murphy may have done some nosing around while she was in town but more than likely she was too busy enjoying herself in order to have been troubled with doing so.

It is difficult to let go of cats, even those that have been encountered only from afar, in that there is always the tendency to worry about them and to wonder how that they are progressing. Be that as it may, Spice is now on her own and must either sink or swim by her lonesome.

In what was destined to be a harbinger of things to come, Spice's ordeal began on All Hallows' Eve which can be a pretty spooky time of the year in its own right. She can be forgiven, however, for failing to realize back then that in this world there are considerably more ghouls and goblins to be found in everyday life than ever have ventured out on that celebrated night of both fun and mischief.

For instance, with Murphy and Roth swooping high and low on their gold-plated broomsticks in search of yet still more shekels, Ayers terrorizing cats and other animals with his horns, long tail, and razor-sharp pitchfork, and Watterson, mop and pail in hand, screaming like a banshee about a little piss, Spice surely must have thought that she had descended into the bowels of Hades. Her unfortunate foray into the macabre world of shelters, their sugar daddies, and those who use them in order to get rid of unwanted cats is, hopefully, at an end but for millions of other animals the horrors that she experienced constitute nothing less than a never-ending nightmare.

Photos: Shawn Patrick Ouellette of the Portland Press Herald (Spice by herself and in a cage), The Herald News of Fall River (Sleepy), ARLGP (Spice and Ayers and a contemplative Spice), Dean Hanson of the Albuquerque Journal (Spice and Murphy), Christopher Ena of the Associated Press (Emily and Chiladze), Kirk Wagner of the Appleton Post-Crescent (Emily's homecoming and with Nicky), and Cindy Schultz of the Albany Times Union (Jack-in-the-Box and Stalker).