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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Monday, March 28, 2016

Barney, the Heart and Soul of St. Sampson's Cemetery in Guernsey, Sadly Joins Those over Whose Graves He Maintained a Lonely Vigil for So Many Years


"The place won't be the same without him and his death has left a gap. I have already seen a lot of people in tears and we are very upset..."
-- Alan Curzon, sexton of St. Sampson's Cemetery

Some cats have become famous over the years as the result of having found work as a combination of companions, mascots, and mousers at libraries, post offices, police departments, hotels, veterinary offices, restaurants, bars, and all sorts of shops, but far removed from the hustle and bustle of the maddening urban crowds a handful of their brothers and sisters also have secured homes and duties at some of the most unlikely and gloomiest places on earth, i.e., cemeteries. Given that the work is primarily outdoors and involves keeping constant company with the deceased, these jobs are, cela va sans dire, not every cat's cup of catnip.

Despite those drawbacks, a ginger-colored tom named Barney was able to somehow eke out such an existence for an astonishing twenty years at St. Sampson's Cemetery in Guernsey. In doing so, he endeared himself to many of the parish's roughly nine-thousand residents by freely dispensing consolation to them after their lives had been irrevocably torn asunder as the result of untimely visits made by the Grim Reaper to the homes of relatives and friends.

"He is a much loved and very adorable cat. For those who enter the cemetery with a heavy heart, he lightens the experience for them," the church's longtime sexton, sixty-three-year-old Alan Curzon, told the Guernsey Press of Vale Parish on December 24, 2014. (See "Barney the Cat 'Comforts' Cemetery Visitors.") "When people walk through the gates, he often comes up to them and brushes against them. There is not a bad bone in his body."

Although Barney was his same lovable and kindhearted self all year-round, his ministrations were most appreciated by those who were visiting the cemetery at Christmastime. In particular, for those who were saying goodbye to a loved one he, according to Curzon, made such somber occasions "slightly more bearable." Visitors and parishioners alike responded in kind by leaving presents for him as a show of appreciation for all that he had done for them.

Sadly, all of the consoling, reviving of sagging spirits, and the replacing of sorrow with hope ended forever on March 4th when he, too, finally succumbed to that inevitable fate that no mere mortal has yet to figure out a way of avoiding. The official word from the church is that he simply died of old age.

"The place won't be the same without him and his death has left a gap," is how Curzon chose to eulogize him to The Mirror of London on March 5th. (See "Barney the Cemetery Cat Is Buried in His Own Plot after Providing Comfort for Mourners for Twenty Years.") "I have already seen a lot of people in tears and we are very upset..."

In addition to his other duties, Barney also was a regular at graveside services. "I think the presence of Barney brought a lot of comfort to so many people. Whenever I was taking a funeral up there families were so happy to see Barney milling about," the Reverend Timothy Dack, rector of St. Sampson's Church, recalled to The Mirror. "The mourners would see him and it would bring them a lot of joy. I just think he gave great comfort."

Just as the mere presence of a cat at such difficult times is a reaffirmation that not only does life go on but, much more importantly, that there is still both great beauty and opportunities for happiness and fulfillment to be found in it. The restorative power of these exquisite beings did not escape the attention of poet Rod McKuen who once opined:

"There has never been a cat
Who couldn't calm me down
By walking slowly
Past my chair."

The eulogies that have poured in following the announcement of Barney's death have by no means been limited to the clergy and staff of St. Sampson's Church but rather parishioners also have gone online in order to both fondly remember him and to express their heartfelt condolences. "God bless you Barney, remember that lovely sunny afternoon, I laid down on the grass in the cemetery and we cuddled up together for two hours," Debbie Ann Le Page wrote on Facebook according to the account rendered in The Mirror. "I needed a friend that day and there you were my angel!"

Other residents of the parish took comfort simply knowing that he was watching over the graves of those who had departed. "I always felt my young daughter was never alone when he was there," Sue Falla wrote on Facebook. "Really going to miss you, Barney, requiescat in pace."

The willingness with which parishioners not only so readily accepted Barney's presence but embraced him with open-arms stands in stark contrast to the cruel and violent reception that a three-year-old gray and white tom named Toldo sometimes received when he visited the grave of his owner, Renzo Iozzelli, in Montagnana, Italy. "There are insensitive people who send him away with stones and other things, convinced that the presence of an animal in the cemetery is almost a desecration," Iozzelli's widow, Ada, disclosed during the early days of 2013. (See Cat Defender post of March 28, 2013 entitled "Even the Finality of the Grave Fails to Diminish Toldo's Abiding Love and Devotion to His Long Dead Guardian.")

Parishioners Left Presents for Barney at Christmas

Although the church was shamefully remiss in neglecting to provide Barney with a memorial service, it did have enough respect and love for him that it, apparently, did refrain from adopting the expedient of having his remains incinerated. Instead, they are buried on the very same grounds that he trod upon for a fifth of a century.

That magnanimous decision was fully supported by the parishioners. "He should have his very own little grave there as this was his chosen place while alive," Andy Baker wrote on Facebook. "He should be laid to rest there."

It was Mandy Hardman, however, who put the case for burying him in the cemetery most succinctly. "He belongs there," she wrote on Facebook.

Whereas the church has not disclosed if it is planning on providing him with a tombstone, failing to do so could only be construed as disrespectful and ungrateful. Like everyone else buried there, he is richly deserving of a proper gravesite where parishioners and tourists alike could visit, pay their respects, and leave behind flowers, kibble, and tins of tuna just as they do to this very day at the bronze statue of Samuel Johnson's beloved cat, Hodge, at 17 Gough Street in London.

All that Curzon has revealed is that the church is planning on erecting plagues on both a wall and a bench, presumably in the burial ground itself, in his memory but he most assuredly deserves a far more fitting monument after all that he did for the church and community. Plus, he is unquestionably the cemetery's most famous resident.

As it, lamentably, is often the case with so many cats, Barney had a rather rude introduction to this wicked old world. In particular, his original owners, who resided next door to the cemetery, cruelly moved away and left him behind while he was still just a kitten. With no other prospects in sight, he kept returning to the cemetery before settling in there on a permanent basis in 1996.

Not a great deal is known concerning the quality of care that he received from St. Sampson's Church. All that has been disclosed is that Curzon and some of the parishioners did feed and water him but how often, plentiful, and nutritious the fare remains a closely guarded secret.

For whatever it is worth, Curzon insists that he led the life of Riley. "He did not have to worry about a thing, but I must stress it was not just me looking after him," he told The Mirror. "There were a lot of people that took him to their hearts."

The church also provided him with a shelter of some sort but it is believed that consisted of only an insulated pet carrier that was tucked away inside of an overturned plastic trash can. A door mat was placed out front but the cage itself was left open in the front where it was constantly exposed to the elements.

The good news is that since Guernsey is located in the Channel Islands just off the coast of Normandy, it enjoys a rather mild climate with nighttime lows rarely dropping below the freezing point and daytime highs seldom climbing above the 70° Fahrenheit barrier. It is, however, rather rainy November through January and the island is sometimes buffeted by cold Arctic winds that can make conditions outside feel like it is considerably colder than 32° Fahrenheit. That is by no means the most inhospitable climate in the world but at the same time it is far from being ideal, especially for a cat that was forced to spend all of his days and nights outdoors.

"He had his own house but he would spend his days wandering around," Curzon told The Mirror. "If he heard a car coming he would make himself known and was so friendly."

That is not surprising in that no cat desires to live its life inside a cage, especially one that is cold and wet. It is even doubtful that Curzon endeavored to so much as change his bedding once it became saturated with water.

Curzon may have been around during the daytime when he was on duty and an occasional visitor may have wandered in once in a while but for a lion's share of the time Barney was left to his own devices not only to deal with his social isolation but also to ward off juvenile miscreants, dogs, and others intent upon doing him harm. In that regard, his fate is reminiscent of that which befell a brown-colored tom with black stripes and yellow eyes named Nelson who was cruelly condemned to tough it out on the violent docks of Seaham Harbor in County Durham for fifteen long and hellish years.

By the time that he was finally taken in by Andrea and Dave Huntley-Crow of nearby Seaton in 2009, yobs already had put out his right eye with either stones or an air gun and either someone or some animal had divested him of his tail. (See Cat Defender post of April 16, 2015 entitled "Nelson's Odyssey from Being the Long Abused Cat That Nobody Wanted to One of England's Most Beloved Comes to a Sad End at Age Twenty.")

Barney in a Contemplative Mood

Instead of cruelly condemning Barney to face both the elements and predators all by his lonesome, someone at St. Sampson's should have provided him with a safe and warm home. Failing that, the church should at the very least have allowed him to sleep inside at night.

Press reports fail to mention if the church provided him with any sort of veterinary care but if it was too cheap to have done that much for him it is doubtful that either Curzon or anyone else cared enough in order to have either brushed his coat, removed parasites from his fur, or attended to minor injuries. Contrary to what an awful lot of individuals fervently believe, the proper care of a cat entails considerably more than occasionally setting out cheap kibble and tap water for it to consume so that it can somehow stave off immediate starvation. Besides, such acts of beau geste are invariably undertaken for reasons of ego gratification with comparatively little regard for the well-being of the cat.

Curzon, Dack, and other residents of St. Sampson's Parish therefore can shout their abiding love for Barney from the rooftops until the cows come home but their abject neglect of him points to an altogether different conclusion. C'est-à-dire, they milked him for everything that he was worth while simultaneously barely bothering to reciprocate in a compassionate fashion at all.

In that respect the benign neglect that he received from St. Sampson's Church in return for his twenty years of unconditional love and loyalty mirrors the revoltingly shabby treatment that the citizens of St. Andrews meted out to their longtime resident feline, Hamish McHamish. (See Cat Defender posts of June 20, 2014 and October 18, 2014 entitled, respectively, "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" and "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.")

In spite of all of those glaring omissions in the church's care of him, the fact that Barney was able to tough it out at the cemetery for so long strongly implies that Curzon and the parishioners surely must have been doing something right. On the other hand, it is entirely conceivable that he owed his good fortune, not to the church, but rather to an environment that was relatively free of both animal and human predators.

As far as the former are concerned, dogs, birds of prey and, in North America, raccoons, coyotes, and fishers take an alarming toll on cats. In regard to the latter, it is chiefly motorists who kill cats and they sans doute do so deliberately and for fun.

Since absolutely no one from the church was watching out for him, Barney's longevity is one indication that vehicular traffic in and around the cemetery surely must be sparse. Additionally, his original owners may have had him sterilized and that likely significantly curtailed his roaming.

An environment that was free of such prolific cat killers as ornithologists, wildlife biologists, Animal Control officers, and representatives of PETA also would have augured well for his survival. The same logic is equally applicable to private citizens who make careers out of poisoning, shooting, and stealing cats. Quite obviously, St. Sampson's Parish is a far more cat-friendly area than any comparable city in the thoroughly lawless and morally bankrupt United States where almost any form of cruelty, no matter how heinous, is not only simply accepted by the hoi polloi but sanctified by the country's shamefully corrupt political and legal establishment.

As far as Barney's death is concerned, there is not any obvious reason to question the church's version of events. That is by no means meant to imply that Christians have either a more abiding respect for the sanctity of feline lives than non-believers or that they are any more honest and truthful than, say, politicians and Bauernfängers.

Rather, St. Sampson's decision to allow Barney to live out his life to the very end likely was rooted in the legendary cheapness of Christians. After all, confirmed cheapskates who truly believe that they should be patted on the back for handing out stale peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and thimblefuls of Kool-Aid®, which they received from the government no less, to the poor is not about to pay a veterinarian to whack a cat.

"I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ," the soon-to-be canonized Macedonian hypocrite, Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, once declared while she was still alive and living high on the hog. "I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people." (See Michael Parenti, "Mother Teresa, John Paul II, and the Fast-Track Saints," Common Dreams, October 22, 2007.)

Like the Jews, Christians only champion the cause of the poor so that they can exploit them. "Nicht ihre Menschenliebe, sondern die Ohnmacht ihrer Menschenliebe hindert die Christen von heute, uns -- zu verbrennen," is how Friedrich Nietzsche put it in his 1886 work, Janseits von Gut und Böse. (Aphorismus einhundertvier).

Besides being hypocritical and self-serving, the drivel served up by both groups of fraudsters serves only to foster a culture of subservience and poverty. "...Christianity, with its emphasis on humility and the hope for a happier afterlife, was clearly a religion for slaves and poor people," Edward Rutherfurd observed in his 1997 historical novel, London.

Barney Resting in an Outdoor Pet Carrier That Likely Was His Only Home

The Christians' abuse of cats, other animals, and Mother Earth is even more pronounced than their mistreatment of their fellow humans and that is so much the case that it can only be characterized as patently immoral and criminal. Specifically, their outrageous and totally unforgivable crime spree against the animals and Mother Earth began when they fell hook, line, and sinker for the Jews' morally repugnant theology contained in Genesis 1:26-28, Acts 10:9-13, and the Book of Revelation.

Armed with such sottise, Pope Gregory IX denounced black cats as satanic in a papal bull issued in 1233. Later in the fifteenth century, Pope Innocent VIII followed his lead by issuing his infamous witch bull which declared that all cat worshipers, and by implication all cats as well, should be disposed of via the auto-da-fé.

Those and other pronouncements by the Vatican led to the commission of wholesale atrocities against cats and their female owners who were branded as witches. (See Cat Defender posts of May 22, 2006, August 6, 2009, and May 27, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Belgian Ritual of Tossing Stuffed Cats from the Belfry Makes a Jest of the Hideous Crimes of Capitalists and Catholics," "Unrepentant and Totally Shameless, Ieper Once Again Makes a Mockery of Its Past Crimes Against Cats by Staging Kattenstoet," and "Salem, Massachusetts, Is Going After Cats Again Much Like It Did During the 1692 Witch Trials.")

Even more damning, very few clergymen, with the notable exception of Anglican priest Ralph Inge,  have been willing to even acknowledge the commission of such heinous crimes. "We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the devil in human form," he declared in his 1922 book, Outspoken Essays.

Guernsey itself is by no means any stranger to the hideous crimes perpetrated by the Catholic Church against the indigenous people of Europe. In point of fact, both the island's patron saint as well as the parish in which Barney resided for so many years are named in honor of Samson (sic) of Dol-de-Bretagne who forcibly converted the inhabitants to Christianity during the sixth century.

It is a bit difficult to unearth the historical particulars but if the Catholics followed the same methodologies in subduing Guernsey that they did elsewhere across Europe, they eradicated wholesale numbers of both non-believers and cats as well. Moreover, the Catholics were not only brutal but thorough as well in that the only known so-called pagan manuscripts to have survived their purges were Beowulf in England, the Nibelungenlied in Deutschland, and the Younger Edda and the Elder Edda in Iceland.

Once the followers of St. Sampson had polished off those who still believed in the Norse gods they quickly turned their attention to Protestants and as a result Catherine Cauchés and her two daughters, Perotine Massey and Guillemine Gilbert, were burned at the stake on July 18, 1556 during the Marian (Queen Mary I) Persecutions. The gory details are nothing short of horrifying.

Although the usual procedure called for the condemned to be strangled before being burned, on that occasion the cord broke and as a result the women were cast into the flames while still very much alive. Even more shocking, after the flames had reached Massey her stomach broke open and out popped an infant boy. A bystander rescued him from the fire but the bailiff, Hellier Gosselin, ordered that he be tossed back into the pyre where he, too, perished alongside his mother, aunt, and grandmother.

Quite obviously, the Vatican's outrage over abortions is not only a fairly recent contrivance but it historically did not even apply to the unborn children of those that it considered to be heretics. Furthermore, even though "Bloody Mary's" father, King Henry VIII, had taken the Church of England out from underneath the yoke of the Vatican in 1534, that made absolutely no difference as far as the fate of these three women and one unborn child were concerned.

The Catholic Church no longer liquidates dissenters but the same most definitely cannot be said for its abhorrent mistreatment and neglect of cats and other animals. Of late, however, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has signaled that it is at least willing to consider inching away from the Dominion Mandate.

"We must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God's image and given dominion over the earth justices absolute dominion over other creatures...." he wrote last June in a much discussed encyclical on climate change entitled "Laudato Si': On the Care of Our Common Home." (See The Philadelphia Inquirer's print edition of June 19, 2015, "Praise, Doubt on Francis' Stand.")

What, if any, concrete steps that he is going to be willing to take in order to save the animals is unclear. What is needed, however, is for him and the church to make a clean break once and for all time from their Jewish brethren and to declare in no uncertain terms that all animal abuse, exploitation, and killing is immoral.

Even if, against all odds, he should be willing to take such a giant step, he is going to face stiff opposition. For example, at the United States Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska, scientists are in the process of committing seemingly every diabolical atrocity known to man in order to re-engineer cows, pigs, sheep, and other animals so as to, inter alia, force them to grow fatter and to give birth to larger litters.

Not surprisingly, the former director of the USDA-operated laboratory, Robert R. Oltjen, invoked the Dominion Mandate back in 1979 as a divine justification for the hideous crimes that he and other scientists are committing. (See The New York Times, January 19, 2015, "United States Research Lab Lets Livestock Suffer in Quest for Profit.")

The crimes that are committed against animals by vivisectors, factory farmers, animal shelters, veterinarians, hunters, the imperialist war machines of the Yanks and Jews, and phony-baloney conservationists such as ornithologists and wildlife biologists are several million times worse than anything that goes on inside abortion clinics and yet both Catholics and Protestants alike do not have a problem with the former. Contrary to what the Vatican claims, it most definitely is not pro-life; rather, its morality is strictly limited to belatedly being pro-fetus.

In addition to the fundamental problem that the Vatican's behavior seldom, if ever, matches its rhetoric, it also has a disturbing tendency for taking ten steps backwards for every one that it takes in the opposite direction. For example, when Bergoglio was in Washington last September he not only held a clandestine meeting with anti-homosexual rabble-rouser Kim Davis of Kentucky but also canonized Father Junipero Serra, an eighteenth century Franciscan, who has been accused of, inter alia, mistreating, expelling, and forcibly converting Native Americans in California to Catholicism. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Barney as He Will Be Remembered, Roaming the Headstones

It therefore almost goes without saying that no halfway decent human being, let alone the head of the Roman Catholic Church, should be canonizing cretins like him and frauds such as Bojaxhiu. (See The Philadelphia Inquirer's print edition of May 7, 2015, "Francis Praises Future Saint.")

All the while that Bergoglio and other Christian leaders around the world are continuing to fumble around in the dark in a belated effort to locate their long-lost moral compasses, their adherents are going right on abusing and killing cats with impunity. For instance, churches such as St. Jude in Tequesta, Florida, and Northside Baptist in Baltimore have given the heave-ho to down-and-out homeless felines who have so much as dared to venture onto their precious little turfs. (See the Palm Beach Post, October 19, 2007, "Cat Feeders Hiss at Church's Barricade" and Cat Defender posts of July 30, 2009 and May 1, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Ferals Living at a Baltimore Church Find Out the Hard Way That Hatred of Cats Is Every bit as Christian as Unleavened Bread and Cheap Wine," and "When It Comes to Cats, Acts of Faith Count for Absolutely Nothing with the Good Christians at Northside Baptist.")

The Baptists who run the show at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, kill them with impunity whereas Fundamentalist Mormon enclaves like Colorado City, Arizona, are a no-man's land for both them and dogs as well. (See Cat Defender posts of February 12, 2007 and August 8, 2012 entitled, respectively, "God-Fearing Baptists at Eastern University Kill Off Their Feral Cats on the Sly while Students Are Away on Christmas Break" and "Polygamists Condemn Thomas to a Long and Excruciatingly Painful Death by Burying Him Up to His Tiny Neck Inside a Steel Post Filled with Wet Concrete.")

In Bastrop, Texas, Pastor Rick Bartlett stole his neighbors' cat, Moody, and subsequently flung him off a bridge to his death. (See Cat Defender post of January 10, 2014 entitled "Texas Judge Idiotically Allows Pastor Rick Bartlett to Get Away with Stealing and Killing Moody but a Civil Court May Yet Hold Him Accountable.")

Even when they are not killing cats outright, the gross negligence shown them by the likes of Cross Church in Seattle and evangelical blowhards such as Prophetess Royal Poinciana Sprewell in Kissimmee is usually more than sufficient in order to result in them suffering life-threatening injuries if not indeed their premature deaths. (See Cat Defender posts of May 6, 2009, August 17, 2009, and December 23, 2010 entitled, respectively, "A Resident of a Church-Run Homeless Shelter in Seattle Uses a Box Cutter in Order to Gut Scatt from Collarbone to Tail," "America's Insane Love Affair with Criminals Continues as a Drunkard Who Sliced Open Scatt with a Box Cutter Gets Off with Time on the Water Wagon," and, "Tavia's Desperate Pleas for Help Fall Upon the Deaf Ears of the Evangelical Who Abandoned Her and the Heartless Officials and Citizens of Kissimmee.")

Although St. Sampson's has not said one way or the other if it is planning on acquiring a replacement for Barney, that likely is not in the cards. Besides, during his tenure he became pretty much indispensable and irreplaceable.

Nonetheless, with him now gone there will not be anyone to console the bereaved in quite the same way that he did for so very long. "When relatives and friends have suffered the awful loss of someone close to them and go to visit a cemetery they are not in the best frame of mind but Barney was always there to cheer them up," Curzon explained to The Mirror.

No matter how hard modern man attempts to first rationalize and then curtly dismiss such events, there simply is not any way of getting around the reality that there is something profoundly sad about the death of a cat. That is not only attributable to their brief life-expectancies and the total lack of understanding and appreciation that they receive while alive, but it also lies in knowing that they will not be coming back in either this world or ten-thousand worlds in the future.

With their young minds unpolluted by the blatant lies so profusely disseminated by the Platonists, Jews, Christians, and rationalists in the universities, the Norsemen and the presocratic Greeks understood that only too well. Along with that they also knew that although existence could be beautiful and joyful, it also had its ugly and heartbreaking side as well.

Perhaps most important of all, the Norse were fully cognizant that both they and their gods, who also were mortal, were doomed. Yet, they fought valiantly to the bitter end when the Catholics finally subdued and exterminated them and in the process nearly succeeded in completely erasing not only any memory that they had so much as existed but their dark and terrifying truths as well.

Although they and their culture were consigned to the dust bin of history long ago, the special relationship that they had with cats refuses to die and given that the roines, as the inhabitants of St. Sampson's Parish are known, were so willing to open up their hearts to Barney it is entirely possible that a few precious drops of residual Norse blood still flows in their aged veins. "All our family loved you so very much and we will always be so grateful of the comfort you gave us at what can be a difficult place," Kelly Ogier said of Barney on Facebook. "You brought sunshine to us and we will love you forever."

Well, perhaps at least until both she and St. Sampson's Cemetery join him in the great void. In the final analysis, however, that is not such a bad deal. It simply means that wonderful cats like him should be loved, treasured, and revered for every day that they are here because tomorrow is not guaranteed to any creature and life after death is only a gimmick concocted by the Christians in order to line their pockets, enslave the naïve, and to excuse the detestable crimes that they persist in committing here in the present.

Photos: Small World News Service via The Mirror.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Freckles Is Alive and Well More Than Two Years after Having Been Inexcusably Left for Dead in the Rubble of the Burned-Out Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter

Freckles Was Found Alive Six Days Later

"She has made a complete recovery and is such a happy and loving girl. She's such a wonderful companion."
-- Emily Tolliver of the Lexington Humane Society 

It is not known how it all began for Freckles. She either could have been born without a home and thereafter unjustly and inhumanely incarcerated by an Animal Control officer or she may have had at one time a family who later dumped her at the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter (KWAS).

Her friendly and sociable demeanor tends to lend credence to the latter explanation but either way her past history made little difference when at 9:45 p.m. on November 29, 2013 a deadly fire broke out at the facility located in the heart of coal country in Rockholds, Kentucky. That is because on that hellish night she was just one of thirty-seven helpless felines who were inexcusably left locked in their cages to be either burned, suffocated, or crushed to death by the flames, smoke, and disintegrating walls and roof.

There was considerable discrepancy in press reports at that time but somewhere between twenty-nine and thirty-four of Freckles' fellow felines perished. Somehow the one-year-old tortoiseshell survived the fire but even then she was cruelly condemned to spend the following six days trapped in her cage and licking her injuries. In addition to those miseries, she had neither food, water, nor even clean air to breathe.

Sooner or later she, too, would have succumbed to either her extensive burns or a lack of sustenance if it had not been for an unidentified insurance investigator who just happened to accidentally stumble upon her on December 5th while sifting through the rubble of the burned-out shelter in search of clues as to the origin of the conflagration.

She immediately was rushed to the Lexington Humane Society (LHS), one-hundred-sixty-two kilometers to the north in the metropolis of the same name, where she was diagnosed to be suffering from an upper respiratory infection, burned paws and pads, and singed fur and whiskers.

Since she had gone without replenishment of any sort for a week, she also was understandably dehydrated and malnourished. The important thing, however, was that she amazingly was still alive.

"She's in serious, but stable condition," Teresa Martin, a volunteer at KWAS, told WBIR-TV of Knoxville on December 6th. (See "Cat Found Alive in Rubble One Week after Animal Shelter Fire.") "Her will to survive is just amazing."

At LHS, Freckles' burns were attended to and she was treated with hydrotherapy but, sadly, all of her claws, both front and rear, had to be surgically removed. In time her fur and whiskers grew back and the pads on her feet healed.

"She is a very sweet cat after everything she has been through (and) we are amazed she is alive," the shelter's Ashley Holder told WKYT-TV of Lexington on December 5th. (See "Cat Pulled from the Rubble of Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter.") "Having her here is just wonderful, all of our hearts are filled with joy. We are so glad that she made it through this devastating time."

Freckles and Her Singed Whiskers and Fur

Holder was by no means the only employee of LHS that Freckles charmed with her sweet disposition and unconquerable will to live in the face of such herculean odds against her. Most notably, her colleague Emily Tolliver was so smitten with her that she simply could not let go of her.

As a consequence, Freckles has been residing with her and her two-year-old son, a pair of cats, and two dogs since early in 2014. Best of all, she has made a good recovery and is able to get around well despite not having any claws.

The only obvious drawback is that she likely is confined exclusively indoors these days because without any claws she would be unable to either defend herself or to scale heights in order to elude both animals and humans intent upon doing her harm. It additionally would be almost impossible for her to hunt under such circumstances but since she now has a loving provider that is no longer a necessity.

"She has made a complete recovery and is such a happy and loving girl," Tolliver proclaimed in an August 4, 2015 e-mail letter. "She's such a wonderful companion."

Freckles' traumatic journey from death row to the grave only to be ultimately resurrected like a phoenix from the ashes and to find happiness as one of Tolliver's beloved resident felines can only be described as miraculous. Whether she lives for either twenty more years or a scant twenty minutes, she unquestionably richly deserves every solitary second of her new lease on life.

All of that aside, numerous questions concerning the fire remain unaddressed to this very day. First of all, the discrepancy in the number of feline fatalities never has been explained. Since all institutions of this sort are supposedly required by law to maintain records of all the animals that they take in, it is inexplicable that KWAS did not know exactly how many cats had perished in the blaze.

Secondly, almost nothing has been revealed concerning the origin of the blaze. All that can be deduced from the available information is that since the insurance company ended up paying the shelter $225,000, the fire likely was not set by an employee.

Thirdly, it is not known if either of the shelter's two paid employees or any of its volunteers and foster parents were on duty at the time that the fire erupted. Since it got so quickly out of hand the logical explanation would seem to be that the animals had been left unattended.

An unidentified individual eventually did notify local firefighters, most likely members of the Rockholds Volunteer Fire Department, who arrived on the scene and doused the flames. Press reports later claimed that the firemen and an unspecified number of volunteers from the shelter attempted to rescue some of the cats. That contingent most definitely did not include Martin, however, who only learned of the carnage when she arrived for work the following morning.

The nature and extent of the rescue attempt is of paramount importance because although twenty-nine or more cats perished, only one of the twenty-five dogs housed at the facility died in the blaze. Ironically, the victim was the shelter's mascot, Sassy.

The Burned-Out Shell of the Animal Shelter

"(She) greeted everyone who would come in. She would go to nursing homes. She would go to all the events," Martin told WBIR-TV of Knoxville on December 2, 2013. (See "Animal Shelter Looking for Temporary Home after Devastating Fire.") "She was the ambassador for the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter."

For whatever it is worth, Martin attributes the disproportionate number of feline fatalities to the fact that they were incarcerated in an interior room at the shelter and that the roof collapsed on rescuers before they were able to release them from their cages. Although the firefighters can be excused for not being familiar with the layout of the facility, the volunteers should have had enough bon sens to have gotten the cats out first.

More to the point, it is not only conceivable but highly probable as well that long-standing, institutionalized prejudices against the species also played a significant role in the volunteers' decision to let them burn to death. For instance, it is well-documented that shelters exterminate a far disproportionate number of cats than they do dogs.

They also find it both easier and more profitable to sell back dogs to the public than to do likewise with cats. In fact, some of these hellhole institutions detest cats so much that they categorically even refuse to allow both private individuals and rescue groups to ransom their lives off of death row. (See Cat Defender post of June 15, 2010 entitled "Bay City Shelter Murders a Six-Week-Old Kitten with a Common Cold Despite Several Individuals Having Offered to Give It a Permanent Home.")

It accordingly is easy to understand how that such ingrained biases against the species could have resulted in a laissez-faire attitude toward saving their lives on the night of the fire. It additionally is conceivable that the volunteers viewed the blaze as a godsend in that it relieved them of the job of whacking them.

That analysis is buttressed by the disgracefully criminal conduct of shelter employees in the aftermath of the disaster. Specifically, although it surely must have crossed their twisted minds that some of the cats had lived through the inferno, none of them ever bothered to reenter the facility in order to check their cages for survivors.

Press reports claim that they were not permitted to do so but they at the same time fail to mention either who or what authority issued that ridiculous edict. In the end the point is moot because the saving of lives, those of cats included, always trumps all legal proclamations to the contrary.

Besides, the remnants of the shelter that were left standing do not appear to have been in imminent danger of collapse. Furthermore, if the insurance investigator, who was unfamiliar with the premises, was brave enough to have ventured inside in order to collect evidence, staffers who most certainly knew their way around did not have anything even remotely approaching a valid excuse for refusing to reenter the facility in order to search for feline survivors.

If any of them had been willing to have done so, they not only would have found Freckles and thus spared her from being forced to spend a week with the Grim Reaper's icy fingers tightly clutched around her parched throat. Every bit as importantly, they also conceivably could have saved the lives of many other cats as well.

Sassy, Sadly, Did Not Make It Out Alive

Instead, these callous rotters left the cats to die slow and agonizing deaths while still locked in their cages. The pain and torments that they were subjected to during and after the conflagration are almost too horrible to even contemplate.

"I hate that animals had to suffer that way," Kenneth Cumpston of Corbin, sixteen kilometers north of Rockholds, told WBIR-TV in the December 2nd article cited supra. "It's just a horrible way to go, stuck in the fire."

Although absolutely no one even remotely connected with KWAS would agree with her, Virginia Thompson of Rockholds put the entire deplorable situation into the proper moral perspective. "I think an animal's life is (as) precious as a person's and I think that was a horrible, horrible death," she averred to WBIR-TV.

The needless deaths of these cats also constituted the very epitome of animal cruelty and gross negligence. Consequently, if there were so much as an ounce of justice to be found in this world staffers would have been promptly indicted on multiple charges and forced to stand in the dock. If convicted and sentenced, they additionally should have received lifetime bans on working in the animal protection field.

The horrific feline death toll at KWAS was by no means an isolated event in that hundreds, if not indeed thousands, of cats perish each year in fires at both public and private shelters around the world. (See Cat Defender post of April 3, 2007 entitled "Fires at Private Shelters Claim the Lives of More Than Two Dozen Cats in Connecticut.")

In addition to being dressed-up death camps and firetraps, shelters also are incubators of disease as well as stressful and harrowing milieus for cats. (See The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 11, 2011, "Shelter Shock. Cats Can Get Sick from Stress. One Proposed Remedy? Keep Them Out.")

The only humane and morally acceptable alternative therefore is not to allow any of these wretched institutions ever to get their hands on cats. Instead, all resources should be diverted to sterilization efforts, TNR colonies, temporary sanctuaries and, above all, finding homes for all of those that are homeless.

In its defense, LHS claims on its web site that it adopts out almost five-thousand animals a year and has a save rate of ninety-five per cent. Even though it did a simply outstanding job of rescuing, treating, and placing Freckles, its claims cannot be taken at face value simply because most shelters utilize far too many dodges in order to conceal the carnage that they inflict upon cats.

Most prominently among these ruses are staffers and affiliated Animal Control officers who summarily execute cats in the field and these fatalities are neither included in their intake data nor their kill rates. That is a tactic that the mass murderers at PETA have down to a science. (See Cat Defender posts of January 29, 2007, February 9, 2007, and October 7, 2011 entitled, respectively, "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in a North Carolina Courtroom," "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs," and "PETA Traps and Kills a Cat and Then Shamelessly Goes Online in Order to Brag about Its Criminal and Foul Deed.")

Secondly, shelters also kill cats through negligent trapping procedures and these innocent victims likewise are not counted in either their intake numbers or kill rates. (See Cat Defender post of August 3, 2010 entitled "Valley Oak SPCA Kills a Cat by Allowing It to Languish in the Heat in an Unattended Trap for Five Days at the Tulare County Courthouse.")

Freckles at Home Today with One of Her Playmates

Thirdly, shelters outsource their dirty work so as to make themselves look cleaner and more humane. (See Cat Defender post of July 29, 2010 entitled "Benicia Vallejo Humane Society Is Outsourcing the Mass Killing of Kittens and Cats All the While Masquerading as a No-Kill Shelter" and the Alamagordo Daily News, November 7, 2009, "Kitty City Near La Luz Provides Haven for Felines Facing Euthanasia.")

Most staffers at these facilities and their affiliated Animal Control officers engage in such wholesale dishonesty and double-talk that in order to even begin to accurately evaluate any of them firsthand, eyewitness data as to the number of cats impounded, what, if any treatment they might require and receive and, most importantly, their ultimate disposition must be known and that knowledge is well beyond the reach of the average citizen. Moreover, these institutions seldom, if ever, are subjected to surprise inspections by either governmental or private concerns.

Even those individuals who unconscionably dump their cats at these facilities wholeheartedly go along with the assurances that they receive that homes will be found for them even though they know in their hearts that they are blatant lies. (See Cat Defender post of July 31, 2015 entitled "The Cold-Blooded Murder of Spitz Once Again Exposes the Horrifying, Ugly, and Utter Appalling Truth about Not Only Shelters but Callous Owners and Phony-Baloney Animal Rights Groups As Well" and The Fort Bend Star, July 14, 2010, "Baby Kittens Put to Sleep in Error.")

The LHS accordingly could be telling the truth about its kill rate but the nature of the animal sheltering business mitigates against that being the case. Besides, even a kill rate of five per cent is still five per cent too high.

As for KWAS, it decamped to a temporary warehouse in Corbin on December 17, 2013 and its new facility, financed with the blood money that it received from the insurance company, opened its doors to the public in the same city on April 4, 2015. (See an April 2, 2015 article posted on its web site entitled "Animals Moved into New Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter," plus The Times-Tribune of Corbin, April 2, 2014, "A New Home.")

Outrageously, the same old hacks who irresponsibly sentenced all of those cats to die back in 2013 are still running the show instead of being behind bars, which is only what they so richly deserve. Even more deplorably, since the new facility can only accommodate a grand total of one-hundred cats and dogs, they could not possibly be operating anything other than a feline extermination camp in disguise.

Residents of Appalachia have had a long and enduring love affair with king coal despite the disturbing reality that a lopsided proportion of the benefits derived from its extraction from the ground always have accrued to those who have owned the mining companies. Generation after generation of miners, their families, and other residents of the area have been felled by emphysema, black lung, and rock lung while of late the tops of more than four-hundred mountains have been blown off in the search for this valuable, albeit carcinogenic, mineral.

Moreover, the region has some of the poorest performing public schools and health care facilities in the nation. No one either inside or outside the region gives so much as a hoot, but the same is equally true of its animal shelters, especially KWAS. None of that is about to change, however, because Kentuckians, like most Americans, love only money.

Given that Freckles owes her salvation to a real-life, latter-day Johnny Dollar, the LHS, and Tolliver, it can only be concluded that she is alive today not because of anything that KWAS ever did for her but rather in spite of its best efforts to the contrary. It is almost needless to point out that the tens of thousands of cats who are destined to pass through the portals of its latest incarnation over the course of the next several years will not be anywhere nearly as fortunate.

Photos: Emily Tolliver of the Lexington Humane Society (Freckles), WBIR-TV (burned-out shelter), and the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter (Sassy).

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Penny of Swansea Public Library: A Remembrance

Penny Holds Court at the Library

"There's no more kitty? Is she going to come back?"
-- Nolan Laroche, age four

It is nothing short of heartbreaking every time that a cat dies. That is attributable not only to the enormous amount of irreplaceable beauty, grace, elegance, and love that they take with them to their graves but also because of the loss of the myriad of benefits that they so freely bestow upon this world while simultaneously asking so little in return.

They also live such terribly short lives. In that respect they are much like the dew which arrives unnoticed overnight only to evaporate with the arrival of the morning sun. They accordingly are here one moment and gone the next.

Underappreciated, unknown, and unloved is their cruel fate. Most individuals live anywhere from ten to twenty times longer than the average cat but just as there is little correlation between longevity and the quality of life, there also exists a profound qualitative difference between the species that Leonardo da Vinci crowned as "nature's masterpiece" and the one that Mark Twain once derided as the "lowest animal."

So, too, was it with a lovely and sedate tortoiseshell with green eyes named Penny who for more than a decade charmed and brightened the days of staffers and patrons alike at the Swansea Public Library. Adopted from a shelter in 2003, she served as, inter alia, the facility's unpaid mascot, goodwill ambassador, and resident mouser.

In reality, however, she was far more than any of that in that over time she became a trusted and reliable friend to all those who had the rare and distinct privilege of getting to know her. "She's a fixture around her," head honcho Cynthia St. Amour told WCVB-TV of Boston on March 27, 2013. (See "Man Says Beloved Library Cat Violates Federal Disabilities Law.") "The first thing people say when they walk in the door is (to) ask 'where's Penny'?"

Circulation librarian Marie Shea wholeheartedly concurred with her boss's assessment. "Not every cat can be a good library cat. She's calm and mellow," she averred to WCVB-TV. "Penny is a joy to the staff and a joy to the patrons and makes the library a special place."

When she was not on the receiving end of treats and friendly pats on the head from her loyal subjects, she usually could be found holding court at the front desk much like Cleopatra was said to have done on her barge. At other times when she wanted a few moments to herself, she would retire to either her straw basket, a window perch, or the stacks in order to grab a bit of well-deserved kip.

For the most part, however, she lived in obscurity and was little known outside of the tiny town of sixteen-thousand souls that is situated six kilometers west of Fall River and seventy-six kilometers south of Boston. All of that changed and definitely not for the better in early 2013 when local troublemaker and rabble-rouser Patrick Higgins launched a campaign to have her unceremoniously evicted from the premises.

Ex-Jailbird Patrick Higgins and His Bay Window

"I must again demand that Penny the 'house cat' for the Swansea Library disappear since there are many people who are allergic to cats who cannot use the library (sic) facilities due to their allergies, in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)," he protested in a March 24th e-mail letter sent to St. Amour and other bigwigs of the town. For her part, St. Amour countered by arguing that the library never had received so much as a solitary complaint about Penny.

Reprehensibly, that pretty much was all the moxie that she was able to muster on behalf of the library's loyal resident feline. Instead, she chose to cave in to Higgins' bluster by throwing Penny underneath the bus. "We'll be looking at adoption possibilities in the future," she vowed to WCVB-TV.

While the utterly spineless St. Amour was busily greasing the skids for Penny's ouster, other stouter souls at the library courageously rose to her defense. For example, a petition that they started quickly garnered more than four-hundred signatures by April 1st.

Perhaps most impressive of all, the effort to save Penny was by no means limited to current denizens of the town. For instance, former resident Aubrey Laflamme started a petition drive at www.change.com that soon attracted two-thousand-one-hundred-forty-four supporters plus an additional four-hundred "likes" on her Facebook page.

Last but not least, an online poll conducted by The Herald News of Fall River elicited twelve-hundred-eighty responses of which eighty-seven per cent were in favor of allowing her to remain at the library. Although the outpouring of support sans doute greatly strengthened Penny's case, it alone was not decisive.

That is due principally to the fact that keeping cats at public facilities is problematic at best. For example, some postal facilities in both the United States and England have ordered their evictions. (See Cat Defender posts of February 11, 2009 and November 18, 2013 entitled, respectively, "The United States Postal Service Knuckles Under to the Threats and Lies of a Cat-Hater and Gives Sammy the Boot" and "Cast Out and Set Adrift Upon a Sea of Unremitting Misery and Uncertainty by the Disgracefully Ailurophobic Royal Mail, The Cat at Long Last, Hopefully, Has Found a Safe Harbor.")

Moreover, the reach of the long arm of the law is by no means limited to purely public facilities but rather its slimy tentacles often snake their way into private establishments in order to have cats either completely removed or, at the very least, to dictate the terms of their tenancy. For instance, the federal courts recently have upheld a series of totally absurd and draconian restrictions placed upon the world famous polydactyls that reside at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum by the USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service. (See Cat Defender post of January 24, 2013 entitled "The Feds Now Have Cats and Their Owners Exactly Where They Want Them Thanks to an Outrageous Court Ruling Targeting the Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West.")

Penny Knew the Best Non-Nefarious Use for a Computer

Lodging houses that dare to so much as serve food also have felt the paralyzing sting of governmental flatheads who hate cats. (See Cat Defender posts of May 21, 2007 and December 5, 2011 entitled, respectively, "Salem, Massachusetts, Is Going After Cats Again Much Like It Did During the 1692 Witch Trials" and "The Algonquin Cruelly Responds to Threats Made by New York City by Trussing Up Matilda III and Bombarding Her with Shock Therapy.")

It is, however, those cats that reside at restaurants and bars who most frequently feel the wrath of ambitious bureaucrats who are on the prowl for an easy way to advance their moribund careers. (See Cat Defender posts of April 20, 2006, October 23, 2008, and February 17, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Molly Is Rescued After Spending Two Weeks Trapped Inside the Walls of an English Deli in Greenwich Village," "The Pecksniffian Management at a Swindon Pub Plies Ember with Food and Then Gives Her the Bum's Rush," and "The Health Department Banishes Smallcat from a Popular Carson City Restaurant but Her Feisty Owner Is Putting Up Quite a Fight."

Contrary to Higgins' wild-eyed assertion, the ADA does not prohibit cats and other animals from either entering or residing in public buildings and allergies are covered under the statute only if they are "severe enough to substantially limit a major life activity," Dena W. Iverson of the Justice Department in Washington told The Herald News on April 1, 2013. (See "At Swansea Library: Penny Would Like It Back to Normal.") "All public buildings are required to make reasonable modifications for those allergies, such as temporarily removing the allergen or installing an air filter."

Belatedly realizing that he had picked the wrong fight this time around, Higgins changed his tactics in a last-ditch effort to salvage whatever he could out of this imbroglio. Specifically, he dropped his demand that Penny immediately be given the bum's rush and instead proposed that the library post warning signs alerting the public to her presence. He additionally called for the Board of Health to intervene and to determine if her presence constituted a health hazard and for the library to agree not to replace her once she had died.

Judgment day arrived on April 3rd when the Board of Library Trustees met and gave Higgins, not Penny, the boot. "All you have here is a complaint," town attorney Arthur Frank told The Herald News on that date. (See "Swansea Public Library Board Says Penny Is Staying Put.") "It's not a properly filed complaint."

In doing so, he also had some choice words of his own for Higgins. "Basically, he wants you (the board) to make her disappear. It's an ultimatum. He's saying do this or I'll file," he told The Herald News. "If you want to deal with the devil, you can deal with the devil."

He did, however, suggest to the trustees that if an individual who actually was allergic to Penny complained they should take reasonable measures in order to accommodate that person, such as installing an air filter, dusting the furniture more frequently, and relocating the litter box. It has not been revealed if such a request ever was made and, if so, what the library did about it.

As best it could be determined, Higgins never followed through with his threat to file a formal complaint against Penny with the Justice Department. Even if he had been willing to have gone to that length, he would have faced a formidable opponent in the law firm of Killoran and Killoran of Fall River which had magnanimously pledged to represent Penny pro bono.

Not Much Ever Escaped Penny's Watchful Eyes

The packed meeting room burst into spontaneous applause once the brave trustees had decided in Penny's favor. "I think Penny is a great addition to the town library," area resident Linda Barlow told The Herald News on April 3rd. "She's an angel."

Margaret Soroka of Somerset, eight kilometers west of Swansea, could not have agreed more. "I've been at the library," she told The Herald News. "That cat is the sweetest."

City resident Chris Amaral also was pleased with the trustees' decision but expressed concern that they had not taken a stand on the library's keeping of other cats in the future. As events eventually unfolded, her trepidations turned out to be prophetic.

It was left of Bill Kinnane of Somerset, however, to point out Higgins' blatant hypocrisy. "I think considering the source...I don't know how he can point a finger when he has spent time in a Pennsylvania prison."

By that he was referring to Higgins' felony convictions in 2010 and 2011 for telling whoppers in order to fraudulently collect unemployment insurance while simultaneously flipping them at Burger King.® He later compounded those offenses by refusing to make restitution and as a result was jailed in Chester in October of 2012.

In addition to those infractions as well as filing a number of frivolous lawsuits under both the ADA and open meeting statutes, he somehow managed to get himself elected as chairman of the local Recreation Commission which during his tenure voted to ban autistic children from participating in its summer programs. He apparently therefore has as little regard for retarded children as he does for cats. That decision later was overturned and he no longer serves on the board.

"Penny is here and I think this is where she's going to stay," Carol Gafford of the library's children's section earlier predicted to The Herald News in the April 1st article cited supra. "She runs this library. We Take care of her."

As things turned out, Gafford's prediction was short-lived because a little more than eleven months later on March 8, 2014 Penny was dead. According to Shea, she recently not only had lost weight but had stopped venturing upstairs as well.

It is not known what, if any, impact Higgins' offensive had on her health. Although she may not have been able to fully comprehend the minute details of what was going on, it nonetheless is possible that she intrinsically sensed the peril that she was in and the resulting anxieties could have had an adverse affect on her health.


All that Shea and her cohorts have been willing to publicly divulge is that the either sixteen or seventeen year old female was taken to an unidentified veterinarian where she died before being examined. Most likely, that is the library's clumsy and dishonest way to attempting to hide the fact that it deliberately had her killed.

That is precisely what the North Hertfordshire Branch of Cats Protection did to an eleven-year-old tom named Alfie that it had rescued from the streets of Stevenage in late September of last year. After publicly pledging to treat him, the charity delivered him up to the knackers at the Great Ashby Veterinary Hospital who promptly dispatched him to the devil.

As was the case with Penny, they apparently did not even bother to examine him because the charity's Bianca Kubler later claimed that he "most probably" had bone cancer. Quite obviously, diagnostic tests, if they had been performed, would have quickly determined whether or not he had the disease. (See Cat Defender post of February 17, 2016 entitled "Cats Protection Races to Alfie's Side after His Owner Dies and He Winds Up on the Street, Swears It Is Going to Help Him, and then Turns Around and Has Him Whacked.")

Even though practitioners of veterinary medicine should respect all animal life and use their considerable skills only to save lives, that is seldom the case. It therefore is not surprising that not too many cats ever make it out of their surgeries alive and that in turn makes them every bit as lethal to members of the species as shelters.

"We'd been buying her special foods to tempt her (to eat)," Shea told The Herald News on March 10, 2014. (See "Penny, Beloved Swansea Library Cat, Passes Away.") "Patrons were sitting with her and petting her."

That was all well and good as far as it went but what Penny needed was prompt and competent veterinary care and not a lethal jab of sodium pentobarbital. Nevertheless, all indications are that is precisely what she got as is evinced by Shea's utterly revolting penchant for wallowing in the same well-rehearsed sottise that all cat killers find so attractive.

"It's good that she's not suffering," she mindlessly gassed to The Herald News on March 10th. "It's so sad without her."

Whether Penny died of natural causes or was bumped off, there can be little doubt that her demise eliminated a major legal headache for the library. It is even conceivable that over time thoughts of malice aforethought had wormed their way into St. Amour's twisted gourd where they eventually became practically indistinguishable from the list of "adoption possibilities" that she earlier had compiled.

If there is so much as a shred of truth in that analysis of events, it gives a rather hollow ring to the staffers' eulogies. "She was everyone's cat," Kaija Gallucci of technical services told The Herald News. "It'll be a different sort of (grieving) process."

Even Gafford could not write her off fast enough. "I think she made the library a little special," she told The Herald News. "She had a great life."

Nolan Laroche Holds Up a Framed Photograph of Penny

Four-year-old Nolan Laroche, however, was not quite so easily bamboozled by the grown-ups' self-serving, hypocritical baloney. "There's no more kitty?" he plaintively asked his grandmother, Diane, according to the March 10th edition of The Herald News. "Is she going to come back?"

Apparently many of his contemporaries felt the same way. "A day does not go by that a child doesn't come in and ask for Penny," Gafford acknowledged to The Herald News on that same date.

In a hellfire hurry in order to get rid of her as quickly as possible, the library had Penny's corpse immediately burned but it is not known what was done with her ashes. They supposedly were interred in a garden at the library but that seems rather unlikely. Every bit as shameful, staffers were far too callous and uncaring to even hold a memorial service in her honor.

A rather cheap and puny grave marker that was paid for by the Ryan Kelly Memorial Fund, which was established in honor of Shea's son who died on February 5, 2011, was laid in the garden in early June of 2014. It consists of a stone, flowers, and a photograph of her. The inscription reads: "Penny, Beloved Library Cat, Your Paw Prints Are Forever On Our Hearts." (See The Herald News, June 5, 2014, "Remembering Penny.")

Penny's beautiful face still adorns the library's web site but conspicuously missing are any testimonials, eulogies, or even remembrances of her. It thus would seem that the library is determined to erase as far as it is humanly possible the petit fait that she even once graced its corridors.

Equally disturbing, it looks as if she is destined to be the last of her line in that the library apparently has not found a replacement for her. So, in a roundabout way, Higgins has prevailed just as Amaral earlier had feared.

"I've lived here all my life and I can't remember a time when the library didn't have a cat," local resident Luna Leal recalled to WCVB-TV in the March 27, 2013 article cited supra. "Penny is a breath of fresh air. She's very therapeutic."

That certainly is true enough in that the library has had a resident feline ever since 1986. The first one was a cat named Dewey who was followed by a black female named Spooky who died at the age of nineteen on July 31, 2004. A painting of her reportedly still hangs in the library.

In addition to the disturbing possibility that the library may have had her intentionally killed, its treatment of her while she was alive left much to be desired. First of all, according to its web site the library is only open a minuscule fifty-three hours a week and that in turn meant that Penny was left to her own devices for the remaining one-hundred-fifteen hours of the week.

The Library's Rather Insignificant Memorial to Penny

Staffers could have taken her home with them on nights, weekends, and holidays but apparently none of them cared even that much about her comfort and well-being. At first glance, leaving her all alone for so much of the time seems to have been cruel but on the other hand the time that they spent with her actually was far greater than that which many owners devote to their cats. That is especially the case with those who work days and then like to paint the town once the sun descends over the horizon.

Besides, it is always conceivable that Penny may have enjoyed having the library to herself. That is especially the case now that most such institutions have been taken over by loud, obnoxious, and mannerless bums who use them only to file online applications for welfare and other governmental freebies, play video games, watch pornography, trash the toilets, sleep and, above all, gas nonstop on their mobile telephones.

Trumping all of that, staffers now believe that it is their primary responsibility to cater to the whims of these barbarians at the expense of the literate and civilized public. Although it is not known what conditions are like at the Swansea Public Library, if it makes a habit out of indulging any of those social parasites it hardly could have been a fitting home for a cat as delicate and refined as Penny.

Additionally, it is a foregone conclusion that she had been sterilized and possibly even cruelly declawed as well. The library also denied her all access to both the great outdoors and the companionship of her fellow felines. To put the matter succinctly, staffers stole from her whatever life she previously had enjoyed and substituted in its place an artificial existence of their own making which made it doubly easy for them to exploit, manipulate and, ultimately, dispose of her once doing so suited their purposes.

The world famous Dewey Readmore Books of the Spencer Public Library was subjected to an almost identical set of deprivations before he met with the same cruel fate on November 29, 2006. (See Cat Defender posts of December 7, 2006 and May 10, 2007 entitled, respectively, "After Nineteen Years of Service and Companionship, Ingrates at Iowa Library Murder Dewey Readmore Books" and "Iowa Librarian Vicki Myron Inks Million Dollar Deal for Memoir About Dewey Readmore Books.")

There are estimated to be close to two-hundred cats living at libraries all across the United States with another fifty to sixty of them residing in such facilities in England, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. In a grotesquely imperfect world, library cats on the average do not fare all that poorly.

Yet, the arrangement nevertheless is far from ideal. Cats needs their own homes and loving owners. They also need to have at least some access to the outside world and the fellowship of their fellow felines. Plus, they need to be protected against such barbaric practices as declawing and to be provided with top-notch veterinary care whenever they require it.

Above all, their right to live should be respected by one and all to the very end and that was not apparently a consideration that Penny received from the Swansea Public Library. It therefore is impossible to view her passing with anything other than a mixture of profound sadness and outrage. Truman Capote once described life as a "moderately good play with a badly written third act" and in that regard there can be no denying that Penny deserved a far lengthier and more compassionate dénouement than she received.

So, in the end the answer to Nolan's poignant question can only be no. Penny will not be coming back. She and all cats accordingly should be loved and treasured while they are here with no less verve than a wino has for his bottle because once they are gone it is way too late in order to make amends for past omissions.

It is not much in the way of compensation for the loss of such a wonderful cat but Penny always will be remembered as the one who stood up an ailurophobe and, at least for one bright and shining moment, came out victorious. That is at least something to cling to on this solemn occasion, the second anniversary of her death. Sadly, it is doubtful that anyone connected to the Swansea Public Library is even aware of that, let alone willing to so much as pause for a moment today in order to remember her; cat killers, after all, do not like to be reminded of their despicable crimes.

Photos: Facebook (Penny on top of some books), Swansea Public Library (Penny at the computer and reclining on a table, and Spooky), The Herald News (Higgins), and Deborah Allard of The Herald News (Laroche and the memorial).