.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Months of Unrelenting Abuse Meted Out to Elfie by a Roommate Graphically Demonstrate the Advantages as Well as the Limitations of Using Surveillance Cameras in Order to Protect Cats

Matthew Sparks Is Caught Dangling Elfie in Midair

"If it wasn't for her owner deciding to install the hidden cameras no one would have known what was going on."
-- Dan Hatfield of the RSPCA

Elfie was acting strangely and at first her unidentified owner did not know quite what to make of her erratic behavior. He was astute enough to realize however that she only acted that way whenever his new roommate, twenty-nine-year-old Matthew Sparks, was at home.

Instead of confronting him directly with his suspicions, he took the circuitous route of having hidden cameras installed in the house that he and Sparks shared in the Fishponds section of Bristol and what he discovered once he finally got around to reviewing the surveillance footage was a shocking and unmistakable pattern of sustained and systematic abuse. Specifically, his roommate would pick up Elfie and then drop her to the floor, which is not only dangerous but perturbs cats no end.

He also can be seen on the surveillance tape kicking out at her but it is unclear if he actually ever connected with any of his blows. He also not only repeatedly grabbed her roughly by the scruff of the neck but relentlessly pursued her around the house. Considering that he engaged in all of that deplorable conduct, it is entirely possible that he did far worse things to her that were not captured on tape.

Armed with the video footage, Elfie's owner brought the matter to the attention of the RSPCA and Sparks was arrested sometime last autumn. In January of this year he pleaded guilty in Bristol Magistrates' Court to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal by inflicting physical abuse and engaging in acts of mental torture. Predictably, the laughingstocks who mete out justice in Bristol let him off with a minuscule fine of £385, two-hundred hours of community service, and a lifetime ban on the owning of any and all animals.

"This was one of the most disturbing cases I have ever worked on," RSPCA inspector Dan Hatfield told the Bristol Post on January 19th. (See "Bristol Man Caught Physically Abusing and Mentally Torturing Cat in 'Most Disturbing Case Ever'.") "It is really distressing to think about the fear and pain Elfie experienced in her own home."

Luke Was Stomped to Death by a Live-In Lover

If Hatfield and his cronies at the thoroughly discredited RSPCA truly believed any of the self-serving palaver that they routinely serve up to the public they would have demanded that Sparks had been jailed for what he did to Elfie. Far from being an isolated case, it is almost unheard of for the organization to go after any feline abuser with anything other than a wet noodle. (See Cat Defender posts of March 9, 2012 and March 13, 2012 entitled, respectively, "Amateur Ornithologist Guns Down Hartley with an Air Rifle, Feigns Remorse, and Then Cheats Justice by Begging and Lying" and "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.")

The RSPCA's intransigence can perhaps best be explained as an example of the professional courtesy that one cat abuser extends to another. (See Cat Defender posts of June 5, 2007 and October 23, 2010 entitled, respectively, "The RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated" and "The RSPCA Steals and Executes Nightshift Who Was His Elderly Caretaker's Last Surviving Link to Her Dead Husband," plus Daily Mail articles dated December 30, 2012 and December 6, 2014 and entitled, respectively, "Revealed: RSPCA Destroys Half of the Animals That It Rescues -- Yet Thousands Are Completely Healthy" and "RSPCA Forced to Apology for Wrongly Putting Down Cat Belonging to Family It Accused of Cruelty in Bungled Prosecution.")

Equally disturbing is Hatfield's enthusiastic praise for technology. "If it wasn't for her owner deciding to install the hidden cameras no one would have known what was going on," he crowed to the Bristol Post.

Au contraire, if he had been paying close attention to Elfie he immediately would have known what was happening and accordingly would have given Sparks the bum's rush long ago. Instead he, according to the January 20th edition of the Daily Mail, had the cameras installed in July but did not get around to acting until sometime in September. (See "Lodger Is Caught on Camera Torturing His Landlord's Cat after He Installs Hidden Cameras to Work Out Why His Pet Is Acting Strangely.")

By procrastinating for so long, the homeowner not only irresponsibly allowed Elfie to languish in misery for months on end but, more importantly, he placed her life in grave jeopardy. That is because systematic abuse of this nature usually follows a pattern of escalating violence that ultimately culminates in the cat's murder.

Lucy Nearly Lost Her Life to a Sadistic Roommate

Foolishly waiting around for either technology to do its job or the telltale signs of such abuse to manifest themselves in the form of bruises and broken bones often is too late in order to save a cat's life. That sobering and distressing reality was driven home with a vengeance to Lisa Altobelli, a scribe with Sports Illustrated, in March of 2007 when her then live-in lover, former New York Mets' farmhand Joseph Petcka, stomped to death her cat Norman in a drunken rage.

Petcka, who also is known to have physically abused Altobelli and at least one other woman, was let off by a Manhattan court with four-hundred-seventy-six hours of community service at a soup kitchen. (See the New York Post, December 18, 2009, "Cat-Killer Petcka Sentence (sic) to Community Service," NBC Today, September 29, 2008, "Man Who Killed Cat: 'I Did Not Act Intentionally'," and the New York Daily News, September 28, 2008, "Cat Killer Petcka Treated Me Just Like an Animal -- ex-Girlfriend.")

Earlier on October 15, 2004, thirty-nine-year-old convicted thief and drunk driver Peter Landrith did likewise to a fourteen-year-old arthritic cat named Luke that belonged to the son of his lover, Allyn Cornell. The attack occurred in the townhouse that they shared in Leesburg, Virginia, and allegedly was over a tuna fish sandwich.

In spite of Landrith's litany of lies and the savagery of the attack, Loudoun County Circuit Court judge J. Howe Brown Jr. let him off with five years probation when the case finally came to trial in January of 2006. Even Landrith could not help grinning from ear to ear at the absurdity of his penalty. (See Cat Defender post of January 17, 2006 entitled "Loony Virginia Judge Lets Career Criminal Go Free After He Stomps to Death a Fourteen-Year-Old Arthritic Cat.")

Declan Garrity

Even on those rare occasion when cats are able to somehow survive lengthy periods of abuse at the hands of roommates and live-in lovers they often wind up scarred and traumatized for life and that certainly is exactly what recently happened to a pretty little black, brown, and white female named Lucy. Her hellish nightmare began in November of 2015 when her unidentified twenty-nine-year-old owner, a nurse by vocation, invited twenty-four-year-old Declan Garrity into their Upper East Side apartment in Manhattan. As a consequence of that simply horrendous mistake in judgment, the newcomer did everything but kill Lucy over the course of the following three months.

When the nurse finally tumbled to what was occurring on February 20th of last year, he already had broken Lucy's right leg in two places, her left pelvis, and several of her ribs, teeth, and claws as well. As if all of that were not horrendous enough, he additionally inflicted unspecified muscle damage as well as burns to her tail.

Mercifully, Lucy lived but even then her initial veterinary tab exceeded $12,000 and it was expected to have climbed considerably higher. Like both Elfie's owner and Altobelli, the nurse surely would have known what was occurring right under her nose if only she had been paying the least bit of attention to her cat.

"She was noticeably staying away from (Garrity). I thought it was weird," she later admitted to the New York Daily News on February 26, 2016. (See "Cat-Torturing Goon Tricked Pet's Owner into Thinking He Was 'Best Roommate Ever' while Sadistically Burning, Beating Animal for Three Months.") "I was like, "How can we get the cat to like him?' Your mind doesn't go straight to 'He's doing something to my cat'."

Larry Negard

Contrary to the falderol so profusely doled out in the universities and churches, sensory data is far superior to theoria and never should be ignored. Plus, cats are especially good judges of character and if they are wary of an individual, their owners should be likewise.

Garrity subsequently was charged with animal cruelty and fired by Barclays Bank but he did a runner and returned home to Omagh in Northern Ireland where he remains to this very day. Since Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has shown absolutely no interest whatsoever in having this sadistic monster extradited, he in all likelihood never will be punished for the repeated beatings that he dished out to Lucy. (See the Belfast Telegraph, March 3, 2016, "New York Cops Arrest Northern Ireland Man Accused of Cat Torture after He Ignores Ruling by Judge," the New York Daily News, April 20, 2016, "Cat-Torturing Creep Declan Garrity Back in Native Ireland (sic), Manhattan Judge Issues Bench Warrant," and the New York Post, October 13, 2016, "Banker Wanted for Torturing Cat Is Found in Ireland (sic) -- with Pet Dog.")

Leaving cats alone with roommates for long periods of time while chasing shekels and sex is bad enough in its own right, but to leave an ailing one behind in order to go on a six-week sailing expedition simply boggles the mind. As difficult as it may be to believe, that is precisely what Alex McAllaster of Fort Walton Beach did with her eight-year-old cat Dante in the spring of 2013.

Not surprisingly, the unidentified roommate got rid of him almost as soon as she was out the door. It took quite a bit of doing but this story ended happily on June 29th when McAllaster finally located him outside one of Walmart's stores. (See Northwest Florida Daily News, articles dated June 7, 2013 and July 3, 2013 and entitled, respectively, "Roommate Gives Away Cat; Owner Searching" and "Cat Given Away by Roommate Found: 'As Soon as He Meowed, I Knew It Was Him'.")

Duplicitous neighbors pose an even greater threat to cats than do Machiavellian lodgers such as Sparks, Petcka, Landrith, and Garrity. For instance, over the course of the past several years, nine cats belonging to Randy and Patsy Hamilton of Bossier City, located on the East Bank of the Red River in Louisiana, have mysteriously disappeared. Even worse, those whose remains later were found had been either shot or beaten to death.

They had no earthly idea who was killing them until their home surveillance camera recorded their next-door neighbor, sixty-eight-year-old Larry Negard of 6008 Tracy Lane, shooting yet still another of their cats, Oreo. He then climbed over the six-foot fence that separates their properties in order to retrieve the cat's body before subsequently stuffing it into a trash bag.

Following that, he likely deposited the cat in a trash can whereby it was shortly thereafter collected by the garbagemen and taken to the city dump and burned with the remainder of the trash. Negard thus was able in the space of a few, violent minutes to systematically eradicate Oreo from the face of the earth without leaving behind any obvious traces of her. It often is all that easy not only to kill a cat but to get away scot-free with doing so to boot.

Stephanie Curwen Sics Her Pit Bull, Duke, on Regi

Every bit as methodical as he is cunning and murderous, Negard afterwards leaned over the fence with a garden hose in order to wash away any incriminating evidence that he may have left behind. He was not quite thorough enough this time around, however, because officers from the Bossier City Police Department had reviewed the surveillance video and therefore knew not only what to look for but, more importantly, where to find it. It therefore was not surprising that they found blood and tissue samples belonging to Oreo on the ground where Negard had shot him.

"It is terrible that someone would kill our cat," Randy Hamilton told the Bossier Press-Tribune on March 4, 2016. (See "Bossier Man Jailed for Killing Neighbor's Cat.")

In either late February or early March of last year, Negard was found guilty of simple cruelty to an animal by judge Edward Charles Jacobs of the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court for Bossier and Webster Parishes, sitting in nearby Benton, and sentenced to ten days in jail. He also was fined $500, ordered to pay another $500 in restitution to the Hamiltons, and court costs as well.

It is amazing that he received even that polite tap on the wrists considering that assistant district attorney Richard R. Ray initially wanted to let him off the hook scot-free. "He was offered probation and no jail time but be repeatedly refused and insisted on going to trial. With the video evidence we knew we had a strong case against him," he candidly admitted to the Bossier Press-Tribune. "We were pleased the court found Mr. Negard guilty as charged."

Apparently it never has so much as crossed the minds of either Ray or the Bossier City Police Department to investigate the deaths of the Hamiltons' other cats. If they were to do so, there can be little doubt that they would soon discover that it was none other than Negard who had killed them all.

Stephanie Curwen

In spite of the gargantuan malfeasance demonstrated by the authorities as well as the total lack of anything even remotely approaching justice in Jacobs' ruling, Hamilton was pleased with the outcome of the proceedings against Negard. "We are so thankful that the Bossier (City) Police Department and the District Attorney's Office took this matter seriously," he mindlessly gassed to the Bossier Press-Tribune.

Interlopers who either intentionally sic their dogs on cats or simply allow them to run free and thus to instigate such attacks of their own volition are an additional concern. For example in June of 2014, twenty-four-year-old Stephanie Curwen of Walter Avenue in St. Annes, Lancashire, turned loose her Staffordshire Bull Terrier-mix, Duke, on a six-month-old black kitten named Regi as he was sitting on top of a fence that surrounded the house that he shared with Lesley-Ann Brocklehurst and her family on Baron Road in the South Shore section of Blackpool.

She then stood idly by laughing as Duke dragged Regi to the ground and proceeded to tear him apart. She and Duke in all likelihood would have been able to have gotten away with their despicable crime if their devilry had not been captured on a surveillance camera that was mounted on the property of Brocklehurst's neighbor, Craig Hargreaves.

As was the case with Sparks, the RSPCA prosecuted Curwen but the buffoons who sit on Blackpool Magistrates' Court let her off with an inconsequential fine of £280. (See Cat Defender post of July 18, 2015 entitled "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.")

Later in early 2015, the same cruel fate befell an elderly three-legged black cat named Freeman from Tarring in West Sussex when he was abducted from his owner's garden and subsequently mauled to death on a neighbor's lawn by two large dogs that were thought at the time to have been Dobermans. After the attack, the dogs' owner pulled up in a blue car, collected them, and then proceeded on her merry way.

"To find out that he had been savaged by the dogs and the owners had not done anything is just completely callous," Freeman's forty-four-year-old owner Tracy Lynch told the Daily Mail on April 3, 2015. (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."

Freeman Was Mauled to Death by Two Vicious Dogs

The ninety-second attack was recorded by a surveillance camera that was located on the property of Lynch's neighbor, Terry Rickards, but no arrest ever was made in this case. Clearly, something is terribly wrong whenever vicious dogs are not only allowed to roam freely but to trespass on private property in order to kill cats.

Cretins who get rid of unwanted cats and kittens by by sealing them up in bags and boxes and then casually tossing them out in the trash are a universal plague. Even more distressing, they rarely are ever caught and made to answer for their heinous crimes in a court of law.

For example, shortly past midnight on August 6, 2015, sixty-two-year-old Susan Maude of Park Road in Tranmere, Merseyside, zipped up three cats, Polly, Dolly, and Dylan, and five black kittens in a laundry bag and then deposited them in a trash can at a car park off of Southwick Road. Unfortunately for her, she was captured on surveillance cameras carrying out her devilry.

"A member of the public rang a cat rescue charity and asked them (sic) to come out and collect an animal," RSPCA inspector Anthony Joynes related to the Daily Mail on March 2, 2016. (See "Shocking Photos of Kittens Left Abandoned by Their Callous Owner, Sixty-Two, Who Dumped a Laundry Bag Full of Eight Cats Next to Bins Near Her Home.") "When they got there they discovered a cat popping its head out of a bag and found there were three adult cats and five kittens inside."

Charged with animal cruelty for not only dumping the cats but also for turning loose a dog named Rusty to fend for himself in the street she, like Garrity, did a runner and as a consequence never showed up for trial. She nevertheless was found guilty in absentia by Wirral Magistrates' Court of Birkenhead and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Susan Maude Leaves Home with a Sack Full of Eight Cats...

Although she is now known to be living in the Normanton section of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, one-hundred-thirty-two kilometers northeast of Tranmere, that warrant never was served and she remains to this very day as free as a bird. That is of secondary importance, however, in that the main concern is that the cats were saved from simply horrific deaths. Even then they had an extremely close call.

"We're very lucky that we didn't end up with a bag full of dead cats," Joynes added to the Daily Mail. "It was a hot August day and they weren't found until early afternoon."

Not only that but they very easily could have been collected by garbagemen and subsequently ground to bits at the city dump long before any relief arrived on the scene. Thankfully, that did not happen and the RSPCA claims to have rehomed all of them.

Although in this particular instance the existence of surveillance cameras undeniably led to the identification and subsequent arrest of Maude, it does not appear that they played any beneficial role at all in saving the lives of the cats. "We're also lucky that members of the public who live in (sic) the street have their own security cameras and I've got to thank them," Joynes concluded.

The most infamous case of cat stealing and dumping in recent memory occurred on August 21, 2010 when forty-five-year-old spinster Mary Bale nonchalantly strolled up to a four-year-old female named Lola on Brays Lane in Coventry, Warwickshire, petted her, and then stuffed her into a garbage can. That likely would have been the end of her if her owners, Darryl and Stephanie Andrews-Mann, had not had the presence of mind to have taken a look at the footage from their home surveillance camera.

...and Returns Thirty Minutes Later with an Empty Sack

Lola's life thus was spared but even then her deliverance did not come until fifteen hours later. The footage was handed over to the RSPCA and Bale eventually was charged with animal cruelty but judge Caroline Goulborn of Coventry Magistrates' Court let her off with a measly £250 fine plus £1,171 in court costs.

Even more revoltingly, Goulborn treated her as if she were the victim as opposed to being Lola's assailant and would-be murderer. First of all, she all but excused Bale's misconduct on the ground that she had been depressed over her father's illness.

Secondly, she argued that Bale had been treated unfairly by the mainstream as well as social media. "The media interest in this case has resulted in you being vilified in some quarters and I have taken that into account," she ruled according to the account of the proceedings rendered on October 19, 2010 by the BBC. (See "Coventry Cat Bin Dump Woman Mary Bale Fined for Cruelty.")

Although her solicitor, David Murray, later told the BBC that she "bitterly regretted" what she had done to Lola, that certainly was a far cry from the tune that she was humming immediately following her unmasking and arrest. "I don't know what the fuss is all about," she declared to the Daily Mail on August 26th. (See "Greyhaired (sic) Bank Worker Who Dumped Cat in Wheelie Bin Could Face Court as RSPCA Prosecutors Review Case.") "It's just a cat."

A third incidence whereby surveillance camera footage proved to be crucial in saving a cat from harm occurred on November 15, 2013 when a ten-year-old large white and brown tom with patches of fluffy ginger fur named Busby was snatched in broad daylight by a man and a woman from a car park at Springfield Court in the York suburb of Holgate in North Yorkshire. Fortunately as far as his heartbroken owner, thirty-nine-year-old Chris Howson of Falconer Street, approximately four-hundred-three feet north of Springfield Court, was concerned, the abduction had been recorded by a surveillance camera belonging to one of his neighbors.

Mary Bale Steals Lola, Stuffs Her in a Trash Can, and Calmly Walks Away

The tape not only was promptly turned over to the North Yorkshire Police but posted online as well.  Howson, however, was not about to sit around hoping against hope that the authorities and the general public were going to locate his cat for him. Rather, he offered a reward for Busby's return, fly-posted the neighborhood with Lost Cat posters, and issued an impassioned appeal for his return.

"If people know where he is, please contact me," he told The Press of York on November 22, 2013. (See "York Cat Returned to Owner after Video of Theft Goes Viral.") "I just want him back, if the people who took him return him to where they took him from, there will be no questions asked..."

He augmented that appeal with a not-so-subtle threat. "If not I will pursue the matter and if they are eventually caught I will press charges," he added to The Press.

That did the trick and the man in the video telephone him and promptly returned Busby to him on November 21st. Although he seemed to be a bit on edge as the result of his trying ordeal, he was otherwise unharmed.

"He (the thief) told me he didn't think he had a home," Howson confided afterwards to The Press. "I didn't believe him but I didn't really want to stand around and have a chat, I wanted to get him home. I'm grateful he has done the right thing."

A Pair of Thieves Make Away with Busby

An almost identical set of facts and circumstances repeated themselves shortly before midnight last December 4th on Brunswick Street East in Hove, East Sussex, when another still unidentified man and woman teamed up to steal a three and one-half-year-old ginger-colored tom named Mr. Cheeky from the courtyard of the house that he shared with fifty-four-year-old Ollie Wilson and forty-six-year-old Laura King. As was the case with Busby, the abduction was recorded by a surveillance camera belonging to one of the couple's neighbors.

Lamentably, in this case the tape apparently was not turned over to them until considerably later and that delay ultimately proved to be costly. To condense a long and truly heartbreaking story into a few words, neither hide nor hair ever was seen of Mr. Cheeky again until he was run down and killed January 28th by a motorist a short distance from home on Cromwell Road. (See Cat Defender post of February 8, 2017 entitled "The Long and Hopelessly Frustrating Search for the Kidnapped Mr. Cheeky Ends Tragically Underneath the Wheels of a Hit-and-Run Motorist.")

The respective surveillance tapes are far too grainy as to allow for any positive identifications to be made but nevertheless there is a faint resemblance between the couple that stole Busby and the pair that nabbed Mr. Cheeky. Plus, their modi operandi are identical.

It therefore might be worthwhile for King, who is still searching for Mr. Cheeky's abductors, to touch bases with both Howson and the North Yorkshire Police. If Maude is capable of fleeing from Tranmere to Normanton in order to avoid prosecution, it certainly would have been easy enough for the thieves who stole Mr. Cheeky to have transversed the four-hundred-thirty-six kilometers that separate Holgate in the north from Hove in the south. Thanks to the invention of modern-day forms of conveyance, great distances no longer pose much of an obstacle to those individuals and groups intent upon engaging in criminal activities.

A surveillance camera mounted on board the HMS Belfast as it lay anchored near the London Bridge early on the morning of February 9, 2008 likewise failed to save the life of its mascot, Kilo, from three drunken yobs who drowned him in the Thames. The surveillance footage coupled with the eyewitness testimony of one of the museum ship's security guards, Steve Laceby, did however eventually lead to their arrests.

Busby and Chris Howson

Deplorably, even the existence of those two pieces of irrefutable evidence proved to be insufficient in order to persuade judge Sue Green of Camberwell Youth Court in London to punish Kilo's executor, a sixteen-year-old girl identified only as Jessica from the borough of Enfield in north London. As a result, she set her free with nine-months of supervised probation.

Jessica who, like Curwen, was laughing off her ugly little face as she hurled Kilo into the drink, turned in a repeat performance during sentencing and, considering the lopsided brand of justice that English jurists are known for dispensing, she perhaps was entitled to her hilarity. (See Cat Defender posts of October 2, 2008, November 10, 2008, and November 24, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Sixteen-Year-Old London Girl Is Finally Arrested in the Horrific Drowning Death of Kilo from the HMS Belfast," "London Teenager, Convicted of Killing the HMS Belfast's Kilo, Also Is Unmasked as a Remorseless Liar and Drunkard," and "Kilo's Killer Walks in a Lark but the Joke Is on the Disgraceful English Judicial System.")

Of the thirteen cases of abuse chronicled above, only nine of them involved surveillance cameras and of that latter tally only four of them were owned and operated by the victims' caretakers; the remainder belonged to neighbors. Most importantly of all, in the cases of only Elfie, Lola, and Busby can they be said to actually have made vital contributions toward saving feline lives.

Even that latter statistic is somewhat misleading in that by relying upon technology in order to protect her, Elfie's owner not only procrastinated but actually endangered her well-being even further. Much the same thing can be said for the delay on the part of Lola's owners in reviewing the surveillance footage captured by their camera.

On the legal side of the equation, surveillance footage led to convictions in only five of the cases and none of the defendants in any of them received any jail time except for Negard and he only got a measly ten days. That in turn lends credence to the deep-seated suspicion that almost any ailurophobe could shoot untold numbers of cats right before the eyes of most jurists and yet still be let off with a small fine and probation.

Jessica and Her Accomplices Are Captured on Camera

In spite of the meager results achieved so far by surveillance cameras, it nonetheless is believed that they do indeed have a role to play in protecting cats but before that can become a reality drastic modifications need to be made in how that they are deployed and utilized. First of all, the quality of the images that they capture must be drastically upgraded.

Secondly, in order to be effective multiple cameras that are capable of filming movements and activities from various angles and ranges are essential. Thirdly, surveillance cameras require much better nighttime lighting in order to be of much value.

Fourthly, guardians need to actually own their own surveillance systems. As the distressing events surrounding Mr. Cheeky's abduction and death have demonstrated, relying upon those of a neighbor is woefully inadequate when it comes to both protecting cats as well as holding abusers and thieves accountable under the law.

Fifthly, surveillance footage is of no use unless it is reviewed at least several times a day. If the owners of both Elfie and Lola had been willing to have done so, they could have spared them months and hours of totally needless suffering and terror.

It additionally is a good idea to timely review surveillance footage even when cats are known to be safe and sound indoors. Individuals who are willing to do their due diligence in this regard are then in a position to identify potential dangers, whether they be human or animal, long before a catastrophe occurs.

Kilo Never Received Any Justice from the Courts

Sixthly, cameras are desperately needed at all TNR colonies in order to ward off mischief. Around-the-clock armed guards would be an even better idea but there are not too many cat-lovers who are willing to undertake that awesome responsibility and expense.

In the final analysis, however, there is not any substitute for knowledgeable, caring, and vigilant owners who are willing to devote huge amounts of time and resources to their cats' welfare and that applies regardless of whether they also rely upon surveillance technology in order to augment their efforts. This world always has been hostile to cats and that is even more so the case nowadays in that motorists, ornithologists, and wildlife biologists have joined the ranks of their more traditional enemies.

"...the unfortunate feline species seemed to be fair game for every kind of cruelty and neglect," veterinarian James Herriot wrote in his 1994 book, Cat Stories. "They shot cats, threw things at them, starved them and set their dogs on them for fun."

By failing to take their cats' safety seriously enough, Altobelli failed Norman as Cornell did likewise with Luke. The same thing can be said for Lucy's unidentified owner as well as McAllaster's poor judgment in fobbing off Dante's care on an unreliable roommate.

Regardless of whether the threats emanate from roommates, neighbors, dogs, or thieves, it is naïve for individuals who care about cats to expect very much in the way of assistance from either rescue groups, the police, or the courts. Such individuals accordingly are pretty much on their own and although surveillance cameras, unlike implanted microchips, have some limited utility when it comes to protecting cats from harm, they are by no means a panacea.

Photos: the RSPCA (Elfie and Sparks), Brent Cornell (Luke), the New York Daily News (Lucy, Lola and Bale), Steven Hirsch of the New York Post (Garrity), the Bossier Press-Tribune (Negard), the Blackpool Gazette (Regi), the Daily Mail (Curwen and Freeman) the Liverpool Echo (Maude), The Press of York (theft of Busby and him with Howson), and the HMS Belfast (Jessica and Kilo).