Blackpudlian Thrill Seeker Who Sicced Her Pit Bull on Regi and Then Laughed Off Her Fat Ass as He Tore Him Apart Receives a Customary Clean Bill of Health from the Courts
|The Ill-Fated Regi in Happier Days|
"The attack went on for about six-and-a-half minutes and she just stood idly by and watched. It was horrendous, it didn't happen quickly. It happened very, very slowly. Clearly she got a lot of enjoyment out of it, she was laughing."
-- Lesley-Anne Brocklehurst
In addition to having almost unlimited amounts of money, the law enforcement community nowadays also has such technological advances as DNA testing, wiretaps, mobile telephone data, and closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) at its disposal in order to help it identify and apprehend suspects. Malheureusement, when it comes to combating cruelty to cats all of those pricey and newfangled developments are virtually useless because of the moribund thinking of those individuals, groups, and institutions that are charged with enforcing the anti-cruelty statutes.
To put the matter succinctly, not even a mountain of incontrovertible forensic evidence is sufficient in order to convince jurists who have either little or no regard for the sanctity of feline life to punish their abusers and killers. That long-standing and utterly deplorable tenet of jurisprudence was affirmed once again in graphic fashion on April 30th when twenty-four-year-old Stephanie Curwen of Walter Avenue in St. Annes, Lancashire, was let off scot-free by Blackpool Magistrates' Court for intentionally sicking her Staffordshire Bull Terrier-type dog, Duke, on a six-month-old black Bengal kitten named Regi.
In July of 2014, Regi was sitting atop a fence that surrounded the house that he shared with Lesley-Anne Brocklehurst, her husband, three children, two dogs, and another cat on Baron Road in the South Shore section of Blackpool, six kilometers removed from St. Annes, when Curwen and Duke came upon him. Exactly what they were doling in that neighborhood never has been satisfactorily explained by the press.
Upon spying Regi, Duke immediately started jumping up and yapping at him. He soon tired of that game, however, and fell in behind his mistress as they continued on down the street.
Curwen's perverse tastes could only be slaked with the spilling of feline blood, however, and for that reason she stopped, turned back around, and pointed out Regi to Duke and, like the obedient dog that he is, he immediately resumed his hostilities. Exactly what transpired next is not exactly clear.
For its part, The Blackpool Gazette reported on May 1st that Regi fell from the fence of his own accord and then was devoured by Duke after Curwen had unleashed him. (See "Video: Cat Death Woman Walks Free.") A video posted on YouTube, however, clearly shows Duke jumping up on the fence and dragging Regi off of it and down to the sidewalk.
The black cat then can clearly be seen scurrying down the street with Curwen and Duke in hot pursuit. It is not possible to determine what happened next because the camera's view is obscured by the fence.
Apparently Regi never realized what he was up against until it was way too late otherwise he could have retreated into the safety of his own garden where several other cats can be seen in the YouTube video sitting on chaises longues. Even after he had been dragged from the safety of his perch he still might have been able to have gotten away if only the opportunistic and devilish Curwen had not seized the golden opportunity presented to her by promptly unleashing Duke. Provided thus with a free-of-charge ringside seat, she then stood idly by laughing off her ugly little face as Duke tore into Regi.
Since apparently the Brocklehursts were either away or if they were at home they were unaware of what was taking place outside their front door, that left matters to their neighbor, forty-five-year-old Craig Hargreaves, who courageously intervened and pulled Duke off of Regi. "I managed to pull the dog away from the cat using one finger," he later told The Blackpool Gazette. "It was as vicious as a playful puppy."
Whereas Hargreaves' extremely charitable description of Duke's attitude toward him may or may not have been accurate, there can be no denying that his behavior toward Regi was an altogether different affair and that is nowhere more vividly demonstrated than by the end result of events. "He (Hargreaves) felt two heartbeats from the cat and then nothing and the cat appeared to be dead," Jonathan Fail, who prosecuted the case for the RSPCA, told The Blackpool Gazette.
|Regi Sitting on a Fence as Curwen and Duke Stroll Past|
Once again The Blackpool Gazette leaves it to its readers' imagination to fathom what occurred next. In particular, it has not even been disclosed if Regi was rushed to a veterinarian or simply written off on the spot as being dead.
Regardless of whether he died then and there or sometime later, his all-too-brief stay upon this earth not only appeared to have come to an abrupt end on that god-awful day but it did in fact do so and for all time to come. A necropsy later performed by a local veterinarian revealed that Duke had bitten him twice and that one of the bites had fatally ruptured a lung.
It is not known whether the initial investigation was handed by either the RSPCA or the local police but at its conclusion Curwen was charged with one count of causing an animal to fight and another count of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. Although she ultimately pled guilty to both counts, her lawyer ludicrously maintained at her trial that the killing of Regi had been both unintentional and accidental.
"Clearly this is a very sad and tragic case which couldn't (sic) and shouldn't have happened," David Charnley told the magistrates according to the account rendered in The Blackpool Gazette. "The defendant has learned a very salutary lesson. She said she didn't expect to happen what did happen."
Whereas there is only a very minute chance that she could have been telling the truth when she stated that she did not expect Duke to have been able to have caught Regi, it is beyond dispute that by unleashing and egging him on she made that a distinct possibility. It likewise is beyond contention that once Duke had caught Regi that she reveled in what he did to him.
|Curwen Turns Back Around and Sics Duke on Regi|
"Throughout the whole of the attack, the female made no attempt to stop it," Fail told The Blackpool Gazette. "In effect she seemed to be encouraging the whole incident."
Hargreaves wholeheartedly endorsed those sentiments. "What makes us the most upset is that she just laughed throughout," he told The Blackpool Gazette. "She didn't have an ounce of respect for that poor animal."
Curwen afterwards informed Hargreaves that the attack had occurred in a "split-second" and that she therefore did not have an opportunity to stop it. Dubious as to the veracity of her claim, Brocklehurst reviewed CCTV footage of the attack taken by a camera on Hargreaves' property and what she saw confirmed her worst suspicions.
"The attack went on for about six-and-a-half minutes and she just stood idly by and watched. It was horrendous, it didn't happen quickly. It happened very, very slowly," she averred to The Blackpool Gazette. "Clearly she got a lot of enjoyment out of it, she was laughing."
In spite of all the evidence being heavily stacked against her, the court chose not to throw the book at her but rather to let her off with a twenty-four-week suspended jail sentence coupled with a ten-year ban on the owning of all animals. Furthermore, the entire sorry affair ended up costing her only £200 in court costs plus a victim's surcharge of £80.
|Stephanie Curwen Hides Her Guilty Face as She Leaves Court|
Although it is not known how much weight the magistrates assigned to the fact that Curwen has three young children at home, that should not have been a consideration at all. To put the matter rather bluntly, cat killers should not be excused by the courts simply because they have dependents at home. (See Cat Defender posts of March 13, 2012 and August 17, 2011 entitled, respectively, "The Sick Wife Defense Works Like a Charm for Cunning Patrick Doyle after He Traps a Cat and Then Shoots It with an Air Rifle While Still in Its Cage" and "Ernst K. Walks Away Smelling Like a Rose as Both the Prosecutor and Judge Turn His Trial for Killing Rocco into a Lovefest for a Sadistic Cat Killer.")
Either she, the taxpayers, or someone else had to pony up for Charnley's services and perhaps she was forced to miss a day or two of work but that was the extent of her punishment. Her reputation may have suffered somewhat as the result of all the bad publicity that she has received but it is doubtful that the damage will be permanent in that cruelty to cats is seldom taken seriously anywhere on the planet.
She might even have succeeded in achieving something akin to cult status within the crowd that she runs with through her cold-blooded, premeditated murder of Regi. That is exactly how ornithologists and wildlife biologists treated James Munn Stevenson in the wake of his unmasking for having gunned down hundreds of cats. (See Cat Defender post of August 7, 2008 entitled "Crime Pays! Having Made Fools Out of Galveston Prosecutors, Serial Cat Killer James Munn Stevenson Is Now a Hero and Laughing All the Way to the Bank.")
Not surprisingly, Brocklehurst's reaction to the court's utterly insane verdict was apoplectic. "I'm happy about the ban but she should have gone to prison for what she did," she declared to The Blackpool Gazette. "Hopefully then it might sink in what she did, and how cruel it was."
She also was denied the justice that she had so desperately wanted for Regi. "It's not about us, it's about our cat," she continued. "I just want justice for him, and sadly I don't feel we've got that."
Curwen's total lack of remorse likewise did not sit well with her. "There has been no attempt at an apology," she related to The Blackpool Gazette on May 4th. (See "'I Don't Want an Apology from Killer Dog Owner'.") "I would not accept any apology now."
The one thing that she is thankful for however is the cameras. "She's probably remorseful for the fact that she chose to walk down a road with cameras all over it. Had we not have had the cameras she would have got away with it," Brocklehurst explained to The Blackpool Gazette in the May 1st article cited supra. "I'm glad that we had the cameras and I'm hoping it will make people think twice about what they are doing."
She nevertheless fears that Curwen possibly could be, like the diabolical monster Stevenson, a serial cat abuser. "She seemed to be getting a lot of pleasure out of it (the killing of Regi) so maybe it's not the first time she's done something like this," she theorized to The Blackpool Gazette on May 1st.
Although it was Duke who killed Regi, Hargreaves is of the opinion that the responsibility for the attack rests solely upon Curwen's shoulders. "It wasn't interested in the cat, it would have carried on down the street and got home without any problem," he declared to The Blackpool Gazette on May 1st.
Fail is, apparently, of the same opinion. "There was no growling or suggestion of aggression and he (Hargreaves) indicated to the woman that she should put the dog on a lead," he related to The Blackpool Gazette on May 1st.
|Fred After Having Been Mauled|
Like sheep to the slaughter, even Brocklehurst has proven not to be immune to the siren call to completely exonerate Duke. "It was quite clear that it was only doing what it was told to do," she added to The Blackpool Gazette on May 1st.
Au contraire, all three of them are in error because Duke not only started jumping at Regi apparently of his own volition but he went after him with malice aforethought as soon as Curwen unleashed him. Although both her encouragement and unleashing of him doubtlessly contributed mightily to the outcome of events, there cannot be any getting around the fact that he wanted a piece of Regi from the very first moment that he laid eyes upon him.
It accordingly constitutes the epitome of dishonesty for Hargreaves, Fail, and Brocklehurst to attribute to Duke a magnanimity and benevolence that he never for one moment harbored in his bosom for Regi. It was an entirely different matter back in August of 2009 when a pet python refused to devour a kitten offered to it by twenty-eight-year-old Jeremy Tuffly of Mesa, Arizona.
Not about to be deterred in his evil designs, Tuffly then kicked the defenseless kitten to death. "Congratulations, Phoenix! We have the one guy on the planet who was outclassed by a snake," is how James King of the Phoenix New Times so eloquently summed up the situation. "Hopefully, he can look on the bright side: if he doesn't like jail, at least he has Hell to look forward to." (See Cat Defender post of November 7, 2009 entitled "Jeremy Tuffly Feeds a Kitten to a Pet Python but When It Demurs He Does the Foul Deed Himself by Kicking It to Death.")
Hargreaves' judgment also is called into question because of his rather underdeveloped sense of justice. "I'm glad the whole thing has been sorted and she's (Curwen) been punished for her actions," he mindlessly caroled to The Blackpool Gazette on May 1st.
Curwen therefore was not the only one to escape justice but Duke also was spared retribution unless being uprooted and rehomed is factored into that equation. Presumably, he was not placed in a home with cats but even so that in no way ensures the safety of others who reside in the same neighborhood with him.
|Hamish McHamish Is Treed by a Pair of Dogs|
He quite obviously picked up some bad habits from Curwen and it would have been preferable if he had undergone both temperament and behavioral testing and treatment before being allowed back out into society. Every bit as importantly, it is imperative that he was placed not only with a responsible owner but a watchful one as well.
Nevertheless, Brocklehurst was satisfied with that outcome. "I have never wanted the dog to be destroyed," she told The Blackpool Gazette on May 1st.
So, in the end, things turned out as they most always do in cases of this sort. The killers, Curwen and Duke, escaped unscathed and that is just peachy keen with the RSPCA, the courts, Hargreaves, and even Brocklehurst to a certain extent. The only one who came out on the short end of the stick was Regi and he lost it all, including his irreplaceable life.
Regardless of whatever else may be said about this matter, that was not fair and it certainly does not constitute justice in any shape, form, or fashion. Absolutely no one really seems to have much of a problem with that, however, and that in turn speaks volumes for just how little most people value the life of a cat.
An elderly, longhaired black cat named Freeman with only three legs was victimized under almost identical circumstances during the last week of March. Like Regi, he was sitting in his own garden in Tarring, West Sussex, when he was attacked by two large dogs.
They then dragged him into neighbor Terry Rickards' garden where they mauled him to death in a ninety-second attack that was captured on CCTV. Unlike with Regi, however, Freeman never stood a ghost of a chance owing to his handicap. Also since Rickards was away, there was not anyone to intervene on his behalf.
|Mayor Stubbs and His Horrific Injuries|
After the attack, an unidentified woman was seen on camera driving up in a blue car, calling over the attackers, believed to have been Dobermans, and then casually driving off with them. In doing so, she never gave the mortally injured Freeman so much as a sideways' glance.
"To find out he had been savaged by the dogs and the owners (sic) had done nothing is just completely callous," Freeman's forty-four-year-old owner, Tracy Lynch, exclaimed to the Daily Mail on April 3rd. (See "Shocking Moment Three-Legged Cat Was Mauled to Death by Two Passing Dogs as It Lay in Its Front Garden.") "That's what's most distressing for us that they didn't do anything to check on the cat."
Rickards was in total agreement with that assessment of events. "It amazes and sickens me that no attempt was made either at the time the dogs were recovered, or at a later stage, to check on the state of the cat," he added to the Daily Mail. "As far as I am aware, no attempt has been made since by the dog's owners (sic) to seek the owners of the cat. It's a pretty horrific attack really."
The killing of Freeman, whom Lynch had adopted from an RSPCA shelter way back in 2004, has had a traumatic effect upon her three children who had grown up with him as their constant companion and loyal friend. "My youngest son was completely distraught," she confided to the Daily Mail. "This is the first family pet he's lost and he was in floods of tears."
Over the years Freeman had become well-known in the neighborhood and for that reason his death more than likely has been felt outside of his immediate family. "He would go around the neighborhood and everyone knew him," Lynch told the Daily Mail. "He was a real character. I think the neighbors will miss him out and about."
As best it could be determined, no additional information has appeared online regarding the killing of Freeman and that makes it therefore impossible to know if an arrest ever was made in the case. It would seem likely however that the woman had dropped off the dogs at the house of an acquaintance before later returning to collect them and the fact that she knew exactly where to find them lends credence to that supposition.
|Bailey Will Be for ever Seven Months Old|
Therefore, either the local police or the RSPCA should have been able to easily identify and arrest her. If that has not occurred, they simply have not been exercising the due diligence that is required of them under the anti-cruelty statutes.
On July 8th of last year, another unleashed Staffordshire Bull Terrier bit into the head of a two-year-old brown and white cat named Fred on Marston Lane in Frome, Somerset, and refused to let go. That surely would have been the end of him if a group of public-spirited construction workers had not courageously intervened at their own peril and forcibly pried open the dog's jaws.
He also was aided immeasurably by an unidentified couple who stayed with him and did what they could for him until help arrived. Even then it was a terribly close call for Fred.
Specifically, staples were required in order to close puncture wounds in his head. He also had to be treated for both a dented skull and shock.
"Fred was at death's door when we got him but he is now on the mend, thank goodness," his owner, identified only by her first name as Ali, told the Frome Standard on July 12, 2014. (See "Cat's Lucky Escape from Dog's Savage Jaws of Death.") "It is so awful what happened but what scares me even more is that it could have been a child in its jaws."
Inexplicably, the woman who owned the dog was allowed to get away without even producing so much as identification, let alone being charged by the authorities. Ali later notified both the police and the local dog catcher but by then it was way too late for either of them to act.
"He (Fred) is such a big part of our family. The whole situation is very concerning," Ali added to the Frome Standard. "I just hope the owner does something about the dog's aggression before it is too late."
That is not about to happen and wishing for the best is not going to save feline lives. The woman quite obviously belongs in jail and her dog in obedience training and with a responsible new guardian.
In January of 2014, St. Andrews' world famous resident feline, Hamish McHamish, was chased up a tree by a pair of unleashed dogs. Thankfully, he managed to escape uninjured and was brought down to safety by employees of Dynamic Hair and local students.
Hamish's close brush with disaster prompted Jim Leishman, provost of Fife and Dunfermline, to call upon all dog owners to do a far better job of minding their pets. "We've got to protect the old boy. He's getting on," he said of Hamish on that occasion. "I would ask dog owners to please keep their animals under control and on a leash when around Hamish McHamish." (See Cat Defender post of June 20, 2014 entitled "St. Andrews Honors Hamish McHamish with a Bronze Statue but Does Not Have the Decency, Love, and Compassion in Order to Provide Him with a Warm, Secure, and Permanent Home.")
As things ironically turned out, Hamish had far more to fear from his owner, Marianne Baird, than the did from dogs in that she wasted no time in having him killed off by a mercenary veterinarian later in the summer when he came down with a common cold. (See Cat Defender post of October 18, 2014 entitled "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.")
The British Open has returned to the Old Course this week after its customary four-year hiatus but it is doubtful that very many of the thousands of golfing enthusiasts who are on hand for the event either will realize or even care for that matter that the auld grey toon has lost its noblest soul and most iconic resident. All that those coarse souls care about is idolizing a legion of grotesquely overpaid and utterly worthless bums as they whack little white balls down fairways and greens saturated with enough pesticides and herbicides to gag a Brontosaurus. Hamish's statue is still on display of course but it is a rather paltry substitute for the life and blood genuine article.
Not even those cats that hold important public offices are immune from being savaged by dogs that are allowed by their owners to run free. For instance on August 31, 2013, Mayor Stubbs came within an eyelash of being killed when he was severely mauled by a dog on the streets of Talkeetna in Alaska.
In particular, he suffered a long, deep gash in his side that required twelve stitches to close as well as a punctured lung, a fractured sternum, a bruised hip, and several broken ribs. He mercifully lived but was forced to retire from public life. (See Cat Defender posts of October 28, 2013 and September 25, 2012 entitled, respectively, "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" and "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 was the case with Hamish, it is not known if the attack on Stubbs was a deliberate act on the part of the dog's owner or happenstance. What is known is that either he or she fled the scene and never was arrested.
The scope of the problem is by no means limited to the criminal behavior of private individuals but rather it extends to officers of the law as well. For example on June 4th, the Toronto Police either carelessly or intentionally allowed one of their dogs to maul nearly to death Aidan Moreau-MacLeod's eighteen-year-old cat, McGuire.
Whereas it sometimes is difficult to determine if individual owners purposefully sic their dogs on cats, the point is essentially moot in that they are responsible under the law for their companions' behavior and accordingly are every bit as guilty regardless of the circumstances. No such nuances enter into the equation, however, when it comes to gangs who purposefully target cats.
That is precisely what occurred on Carlton Drive in Strabane, County Tyrone, on February 22, 2010 when a group of ten teenagers got their hands on a seven-month-old black kitten named Bailey and subsequently fed him to a black greyhound. Left with multiple broken bones and lacerations, she succumbed to her injuries en route to a veterinarian.
"I just don't know how these young people can sleep at night after doing something like this," Bailey's distraught owner said afterwards. "They are nothing but scum!"
As best it could be determined, no arrest ever was made in the case. (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.")
Later on August 28th of that same year, a gang of men sicced a dark-brown Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Greyhound-mix on a ginger-colored cat on Kirkgate Street in the Burnley Wood section of Burnley in Lancashire. Under such hellish circumstances, the forever nameless feline never stood a chance of holding its own against such a formidable and bloodthirsty foe.
In the fortnight leading up to the attack, the bodies of four additional cats were found in the backyards of derelict houses on Branch Road. "These are serious offenses which have caused unnecessary harm and distress to animals and their owners," Louise Blackey of the local constabulary told the Lancashire Telegraph on September 8, 2010. (See "Cats Savaged in Burnley.")
Besides reiterating the painfully obvious and prevailing upon the public for assistance, it is doubtful that the authorities in Burnley did very much to apprehend those individuals responsible for these despicable attacks. The story was somewhat different in July of last year when the RSPCA apprehended and prosecuted forty-nine-year-old Paul Ashworth of Hawley Street in Colne, Lancashire, for shaking a cat out of a tree so that the dogs of his accomplices could attack it.
Disgracefully, the boobs who sit on Burnley Magistrates' Court let him off with a minuscule sentence of seventy-six days in jail plus a five-year ban on owning animals. That was in spite of the fact that he is a career criminal who already had two prior convictions for animal cruelty.
Although the RSPCA is to be commended for finally getting off the schneid and going after him, it actually was his and his cohorts' egos and hubris that actually sealed their fates. In particular, they committed to mistake of filming their crimes on their mobile phones which later were seized in raids and subsequently used against them in court.
One of his accomplices, twenty-four-year-old Joshua Varey of Duke Street in Colne can clearly be heard on one of the videos laughing as the cat is shaken from the tree. He was not convicted for that offense, however, but rather for siccing his dogs on a badger.
Even then all that he received was one-hundred-twenty-six days in jail plus a ten-year ban on owning animals. His partner in the attack on the badger, twenty-two-year-old Shaun Mullens of Leach Street in Colne, was given a one-hundred-fourteen-day jail term plus also a ten-year ban on owning animals.
The magistrates let the duo off with light taps on the wrists in spite of the fact that Varey has a long history of breeding and selling fighting dogs whereas Mullens previously had been convicted for poaching rabbits. In the end, the RSPCA did not have an awful lot to show for the £24,000 that it spent prosecuting the trio.
Worst of all, the rescue group never was able to determine the fate of either the cat or the badger. "The case is probably just the tip of the iceberg," Carroll Lamport of the charity told the Lancashire Telegraph on July 12, 2014. (See "East Lancashire Gang Who Filmed Dogs Attacking Badger and Cat Jailed.") "These men are responsible for a vicious, deliberate and vindictive level of animal cruelty."
In addition to training their dogs on cats, some individuals even go so far as to steal domesticated ones right out from underneath the noses of their owners in order to abuse them for sport. For example, a quartet of cats that were destined to be fed to Greyhounds were abandoned outside the Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary in Ramsbotton, Lancashire, sometime during the Christmas holidays of 2010.
A note attached to their carriers read: "Please help these poor cats. I am a student at Liverpool University. These poor cats were destined to be bait for Greyhounds. Live Bait! On Morecombe Beach (in Lancaster City)."
Subsequently dubbed Holly Berry, Snowflake, Tinsel, and Tiny Tim, all of them were not only in good shape but obviously had been well cared for before they were stolen. Bleakholt attempted to reunite them with their rightful owners but it is not known how successful it was in that endeavor.
"There are people out there who consider it to be good sport to set animals on each other for their sick amusement," the shelter's Neil Martin told the Bury Times of Bolton in Greater Manchester on January 1, 2011. (See "Cats Destined to Be Used as 'Live Bait' for Greyhounds.") "I find this kind of behavior to be horrific. We are supposed to be a nation of animal lovers."
Like people everywhere, the English are a good deal less than what they pretend. As Michael Crichton demonstrated in his 1975 historical novel, The Great Train Robbery, breeding vicious dogs to attack each other, cats, and other animals is every bit as English as tea and crumpets.
Consequently, this type of simply abhorrent animal abuse continues to flourish throughout the country. For example, an unspecified number of domesticated cats were believed to have been stolen from Aspatria in Cumbria during September and October of 2012 in order to be fed to hunting dogs.
|Bubba Is Trying to Recover from a Terrible Mauling|
"There are cats that have been going missing around the area," thirty-one-year-old Alex Christie of Spring Kell Street who lost his one-year-old cat, Oscar, told the News and Star of Workington on October 9, 2012. (See "Fears Cats Being Stolen in Cumbria to Be Used as Hunting Dogs Bait.") "I've heard there are people with dogs and they have been setting their dogs on the cats."
In an extremely rare victory for the proponents of animal welfare, five individuals were arrested and six Greyhounds and a pair of Labrador Retrievers seized a few weeks later on November 7th in raids conducted by the Durham County Constabulary and the RSPCA in the Firthmoor section of Darlington. The arrests came in response to complaints from the public of cats and other animals being chased by dogs in an apparently organized and systematic fashion. (See The Guardian, November 7, 2012, "Five Arrested over Suspected Cat Hunts.")
As horrific a toll as dogs take on domesticated cats, that pales in comparison with the carnage that they inflict upon those that are homeless. Most disconcerting of all is the destruction that they inflict upon those that belong to managed TNR colonies.
Confined as they are to one geographic location, these cats often are caught off guard when either feeding or reposing in their winterized shelters and as such they make easy pickings for dogs that attack them either of their own volition or at the behest of their supremely evil owners. For instance, between the middle of October and November 13th of last year, a group of vicious dogs killed at least seventeen cats in the Collinwood neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland.
The lion's share of the victims belonged to the Euclid Beach Feral Cat Project at 15 Washington Boulevard and the Waterloo Alley Cat Project located, it is believed, somewhere in the business district of the same name. Among the victims from Waterloo were a brown and white cat named R.J., a black and white one named Sylvester, a tortoiseshell named Bobbi, and a tuxedo named Pippi. Five others are still missing and presumed to be dead.
|Two of the Alleged Killers, Presumably Now Dead Themselves|
The only cat from either colony known to have survived one of these attacks is an orange tom named Bubba who not only received several severe bite wounds but also lost his tail. He was forced to undergo five surgeries that cost a total of $700 but, at last word, was expected to recover.
"He greets everyone with a meow, hoping to be fussed over," his owner, Laurie Banks, who resides at the Euclid Mobile Home Park, told The Plain Dealer on December 18th. (See "Cat-Killings Cease after Cleveland Man Surrenders His Dogs.")
As things turned out, Bubba owes his salvation neither to Banks nor to Cleveland Animal Control which failed miserably to do its job, but rather to courageous area resident, fifty-two-year-old Katie Nolan. "I heard dogs barking at 7:50 Wednesday (November 12th) morning and ran outside in my pajamas," she related to The Plain Dealer on November 13th. (See "Bubba Is the Sole Survivor of the Cleveland Dog-Pack Attacks on Cats.") "I saw the dogs in my backyard, grabbed a board off my porch and ran up to them shaking my two-by-four and yelling."
The information contained in press reports is rather sketchy but all of the victims were not homeless. For instance, a cat owned by Monica Doyle was killed by the dogs and Andy Kessler lost his cat, Spike, to them while his other cat, Freebie, was maimed.
The derelicts and nincompoops who comprise the ranks of Animal Control set out humane traps in a supposedly serious effort designed to catch the dogs but that was primarily a carefully choreographed public relations charade designed to hoodwink the public into falsely believing that they were doing their jobs. Meanwhile, the slaughter of cats continued unabated.
Finally, on November 13th a group of concerned citizens at an unidentified sausage shop spotted the dogs and telephoned Animal Control which subsequently was able to capture a pair of black Labrador Retrievers on East One-Hundred-Fifty-Six Street near Interstate 90. Four more dogs and nine, two-week-old puppies later were seized from the residence of sixty-eight-year-old Ralph Williams on Darwin Avenue.
Prior to that, four dogs including a pair of Rottweilers, a Doberman, and a Lab-mix had been photographed by a surveillance camera chasing cats on Trafalgar Avenue. Press reports have not delved into this discrepancy but, as far as it is known, the attacks ceased with the seizure of Williams' dogs.
He eventually was charged with allowing his dogs to run free and for failing to purchase licenses for them but Animal Control was all too willing to overlook the carnage that they had inflicted upon the cats and their owners and caretakers. "None of the witnesses to the attacks on the cats were able to positively identify the dogs we impounded," is how Chief Animal Control Officer Ed Jamison excused his utterly reprehensible dereliction of duty to The Plain Dealer on December 18th. "I am confident that they were the dogs killing the cats, as I saw firsthand the areas they were able to cover. But that isn't enough to issue charges in the cats' deaths."
|Tess Enjoying a Cold Mug of Her Favorite Tipple|
That is pure baloney in that Jamison had surveillance footage of the dogs chasing the cats and that made positive eyewitness identification of them superfluous. Additionally, it likely would have been possible to have collected incriminating DNA evidence from the dogs. All sorts of men and women have been sent to the gas chamber on circumstantial evidence far less compelling than what his agency had assembled against Williams and his dogs.
The point is temporarily moot, however, in that Williams failed to show up in Cleveland Municipal Court on December 18th for a hearing on the charges. Most likely he simply was too cheap in order to pay the minuscule $150 fines that he was liable for under each count lodged against him.
A warrant was issued for his arrest but if the authorities have not apprehended him by now they likely never will bring him to justice. By contrast, if his dogs had mauled, let alone killed, a single individual there would have been a police manhunt for him that would have rivaled the one that the authorities in New York State staged last month for David Sweat and Richard Matt. Since his victims were only cats, however, none of the authorities in the "mistake by the lake" care enough to be bothered with even arresting him.
The abject failure of Animal Control to have apprehended him weeks earlier is all the more inexcusable in that Williams was well-known to them for keeping large vicious dogs that he allowed to run free. Besides, the agency was informed from the very outset that the attackers were domesticated canines and not a pack of homeless mongrels.
"They do not look like mangy dogs. They look like they're well-fed, like they are cared for," Brian Licht of the Euclid Beach Feral Cat Project told Fox-8 of Cleveland on November 1st. (See "Pack of Roaming Dogs Reportedly Targeting Cats in Cleveland Neighborhoods.") "The dogs are not interested in food, they are only interested in killing cats."
Although it is not known what Williams was doing with so many vicious, unsocialized dogs, the strong suspicion is that he was breeding them for sport. "I don't know if they are fighting dogs," Licht added to Fox-8. "It almost seems like they've been trained to kill."
As far as it is known, Williams only turned the dogs loose at night but whether he did so in order to have them protect his property or to intentionally kill cats is not known. It strains credulity however that he did not know what they were doing and yet he did absolutely nothing in order to stop them.
That is one more reason why the authorities should have thrown the book at him. He also cared almost nothing about the dogs' safety in that they easily could have been either run down by motorists or shot by a disgruntled homeowner.
|Peter and Tamara|
New homes were found for thirteen of Williams' dogs but two of them, presumably the pair captured on November 13th, were killed off by either Animal Control or the Cleveland Protective League. The latter action was both unnecessary and grossly unfair in that the killers could have been either rehabilitated or sent to a sanctuary where they, at worst, could have lived out their lives inside a fenced-in compound. After all, Williams was the one who was responsible for their killing spree and therefore richly deserves to be punished the most severely.
In the aftermath of the killings, the Waterloo Alley Cat Project announced plans to raise $2,000 in order to install a fence around its cats and to purchase sturdier winter shelters for them. "This incident with the dogs was the worst experience we have ever had...and hopefully ever will," the charity's Deborah Gulyes told The Plain Dealer in the December 18th article cited supra.
Whereas both of those initiatives are welcome developments, they do not go nearly far enough. Located as they are in such bad neighborhoods, both TNR colonies also need to add surveillance cameras and, above all, nighttime attendants. If at all possible, it would be better if they were relocated to private properties under the legal control of their caretakers.
The senseless and totally preventable killing of these twenty-two wonderful and long-suffering cats has not only exposed the Achilles heel of all managed colonies but provided the despicable, cat-killing scumbags at PETA with enough ammunition to keep their TNR defamation project going full tilt for the next twenty years. Even more reprehensibly, the managers of both colonies have the cats' blood all over their hands and faces.
Specifically, as soon as they learned that the cats were under assault the volunteers should have immediately inaugurated all-night patrols. Armed with flashlights, noisemakers, and sticks, they should have been able to not only have driven off the intruders but also to have captured photographs of them on their mobile phones which they then could have shared with the authorities.
If they had been willing to have done that, not only could the cats have been saved but perhaps the dogs could have been corralled in short order. If they were expecting either Animal Control or the police to have fulfilled their sacred responsibilities to the cats they were deadly mistaken.
The outcome was far different back in February of 2010 when a pack of coyotes arrived on the scene and began preying upon the Bluffers Park TNR colony in Toronto's Scarborough District. In an effort to save Half Mask and the other cats, the colony's caretakers staged all-night vigils in the biting cold and snow where they used sticks, flashlights, and whistles in order to drive off the coyotes. (See Cat Defender post of September 15, 2011 entitled "Ravenous Coyotes, Cat-Haters, and Old Man Winter All Want Her Dead, Buried, and Gone but Brave Little Half Mask Is Defying All the Odds.")
TNR therefore involves considerably more than merely feeding, watering, sheltering, and desexing homeless cats. Their fragile lives must be safeguarded at all costs from the machinations of dogs, wildlife such as coyotes and raccoons, cat-haters, and governmental officials. If at the end of the day all that their caretakers have to show for their efforts is a colony of dead cats, their brand of TNR has been a miserable failure.
He then took her to a veterinarian and she later was adopted by Matthew Walsh to serve as the mascot of The Bugle Horn Inn in Bassingham. "Bess has already used up two of her nine lives, but she's settled in now," he later reported. "She quickly got her paws under the bar, and she's ready to make her debut with the customers." (See Cat Defender post of February 25, 2010 entitled "Bess Twice Survives Attempts Made on Her Life Before Landing on All Four Paws at a Pub in Lincolnshire.")
In early October of 2014, a dog was credited with saving the lives of six cats, aged two to five years old, that had been dumped in a trash can in a remote area of the six-hundred-ten-acre Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve in Cambridgeshire. If the dog had not started barking, its owners never would have thought to have looked inside the receptacle.
"When the dog's owners opened the bin they found six cats staring up at them," Alan Maskell of Blue Cross revealed to the BBC on October 3rd. (See "Barking Dog Saved Cats from Wheelie Bin, Says Charity.") "They were completely shocked."
Best of all, the felines were said to have been in good condition despite their death-defying ordeal. Peter, a black and white tom, Tamara, white with black spots, and brown and white Cleopatra later were put up for adoption along with the other three unidentified cats.
It thus seems clear that large and potentially dangerous dogs, such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, Dobermans, Greyhounds, and Rottweilers should not be allowed to run free. In addition to posing a significant threat to cats, other animals, and humans, their own lives are imperiled by such behavior.
Secondly, individuals such as Curwen, Ashworth, Varey, and Mullens who intentionally employ dogs in order to attack cats should not be shown any leniency whatsoever under the law. The same applies in spades for individuals who breed dogs for fighting.
Like gun possession and the driving of needlessly large trucks, vans, and Hummers, the keeping of vicious dogs is a form of anti-social behavior that benefits neither the community nor the animals themselves. Rather, it is a prescription for only abuse and death.
Animal welfare groups and the courts could, if they wanted to, put an end to this appalling misuse of dogs but that is not about to happen. As experience as more than abundantly demonstrated, the situation is even more deplorable as far as cats are concerned in that the majority of jurists still would be unwilling to punish their abusers even if the offenses were committed flagrante delicto before their very own eyes.
Photos: The Blackpool Gazette (Regi, Regi on a fence, and Curwen leaving court), the Daily Mail (Curwen by herself, siccing Duke on Regi, and Freeman), Frome Standard (Fred), Facebook (Hamish and Stubbs), Strabone Chronicle (Bailey), Lancashire Telegraph (Varey and Mullens), Waterloo Alley Cat Project (R.J., Sylvester, Bobbi, and Pippi), Euclid Veterinary Clinic (Bubba), The Plain Dealer (black Labrador Retrievers), the Lincolnshire Echo (Bess), and Blue Cross (Peter, Tamara, and Cleopatra).