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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

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Love Lives On for Salem at a Long Island Farm Sanctuary Even Though She Has Been Missing for More Than Three Years

Salem at the Sanctuary's Country Store

"Our love for Salem has no deadline. There is no statute of limitations on the worry or on our responsibility to do everything we can to locate our long-lost friend who was given no choice in the matter when she suddenly found herself away from the only home she had ever known where her family -- including her twin sister and kitty soul mate, Sabrina -- loves and misses her."
-- Lorene Eriksen

All too many individuals look upon cats in much the same manner as they do wearing apparel and other accessories. C'est-à-dire, as soon as they become either worn, elderly, sickly, or are simply no longer wanted they get rid of them as quickly as possible and acquire replacements.

That same callous attitude applies in large part to those that disappear in that they likewise are soon forgotten. At the Lewis Oliver Farm Sanctuary in Northport Village on the North Shore of Long Island, however, the love that staffers hold in their hearts for a petit black female named Salem lives on to this very day in spite of the fact that she mysteriously disappeared on August 14, 2014. "Three years ago today our funny, sweet and sassy little friend abruptly vanished from our lives taking with her all her crazy antics, her larger-than-life personality, and a piece of our hearts," the farm's barn manager Lorene Eriksen wrote August 14th of this year on the sanctuary's Facebook page.

Not only is her love for Salem still very much alive but so, too, are her efforts to locate her. "While we don't need a date on the calendar to be reminded of Salem, we ask that you help us remind everyone that we will always be searching, worrying, and missing her by sharing this post and her story by visiting Salem's page, www.Facebook.com/lostcatsalem."

This enduring love story began sometime in 2007 when Eriksen rescued the seven-pound kitten and her twin sister, Sabrina, from a colony of homeless cats. She then brought them to live at the farm, which has been in operation since the 1800's, where they joined Annabelle the cow, Tiny the pig, a pair of alpacas known as Ezra and Onyx, and an undisclosed number of goats, sheep, geese, chickens, ducks, turkeys, peacocks, rabbits and, of course, cats.

The farm was privately owned until 2007 when it was taken over by the town of Huntington, of which Northport is a part, and surrounding Suffolk County. Eriksen is a member of a group of volunteers collectively known as Friends of the Farm who not only attend to the animals' daily needs but also raise money for their food, shelter, veterinary care, and other requirements.

The specifics have not been publicly divulged, but apparently Salem lived in a barn on the property without incident for seven years before she disappeared into thin air. In an all-out effort to locate her, Eriksen issued an Amber Alert, canvassed door-to-door, blanketed the neighborhood with Lost Cat posters, looked in nearby garages, contacted both the mainstream press as well as social media, enlisted the assistance of a telephone service that specializes in finding lost pets, and offered a US$1,500 reward for her safe return. The only stones that she, apparently, left unturned were to have contacted the police and local shelters as well and to have hired a pet detective.

Sadly, all of her efforts were for naught. She accordingly was forced into concluding that Salem either had absconded on her own, left after a fight with another cat, or been killed by a hit-and-run motorist. The first possible possibility can be disposed of rather quickly because cats are true homebodies who seldom desert owners who take reasonably good care of them.

While it is not known how many barn cats live on the farm, females normally are able to get along with both members of their own sex as well as males. Severe problems can develop between unneutered males, however, and once the fur begins the fly it is not unusual for one or more of the warring parties to hit the road.

Although Salem is said to have stayed close to the barn, it is always conceivable that she could have been killed by a motorist. Presumably, Eriksen walked up and down nearby roads looking for her but she would have needed to have done that almost immediately because a cat's corpse, including fur and bones, can disintegrate into nothingness within as short a period of time as two days in the hot August sun. Garbagemen, other public officials, and even conscientious private citizens also remove dead cats from the pavement and shoulders of public thoroughfares.

It also is conceivable that she could have become unwittingly trapped inside either a motor vehicle or some type of portable container and therefore could have been transported off the farm to parts unknown. (See Cat Defender posts of November 6, 2006 and July 21, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Trapped in a Moving Van for Five Days, Texas Cat Named Neo Is Finally Freed in Colorado" and "Janosch Survives Being Sent Through the Post from Bayern to the Rhineland.")

She additionally could have fallen victim to an unleashed dog. Skunks, raccoons, and fishers also are known to not only kill cats but to drag their corpses underground into their lairs. Given that she was such a small cat, Salem could have been snatched up by either an eagle, hawk, owl, or some other bird of prey and spirited miles away.

Coyotes are another major menace faced by cats living on Long Island. For example, they are theorized to have swam from the southeastern coast of Connecticut to Fishers Island, located sixteen kilometers off the North Fork, where in 2011 alone they were blamed for killing dozens of them. (See Cat Defender post of September 17, 2011 entitled "Coyotes, Swimming from Connecticut, Are Blamed for Killing Twenty Cats on Remote and Exclusive Fishers Island.")

Whereas Fishers Island is located one-hundred-sixty-four kilometers east of Northport, the Southampton hamlet of Water Mill is not only located on the North Fork itself but it is only one-hundred kilometers east of Northport and at least one coyote was spotted there in 2013. (See The Suffolk Times, July 9, 2013, "Are Coyotes on the North Fork?")

Lorene Eriksen with a New Friend

For her part, Eriksen from the very beginning always suspected that Salem had been stolen and that is a real possibility given that the farm is open to the public free of charge every day of the year. It was not until ten months later in June of 2015, however, that she had any evidence whatsoever in order to substantiate her suspicions.

That was when, like a coup du ciel, an unidentified visitor to the farm spotted one of Eriksen's Lost Cat posters and that jogged her memory into recalling that she earlier had seen a message posted on a Facebook page entitled Moms of Huntington, New York, that had contained an oblique reference to "the friendly black cat at Lewis Oliver Farm' while simultaneously inquiring as to whether she had an owner because she felt "so bad for it." By then the message had been deleted so it is impossible to say whether it had been posted before or after Salem's disappearance but it definitely was around that time.

"Needless to say, this was a shocking revelation and a substantial break in what had remained a mystery behind her disappearance," Eriksen told the Huntington Patch on July 30, 2015. (See "Salem the Cat and Her Disappearance from Lewis Oliver Farm.")

Eriksen and some of her co-workers at the farm subsequently joined the Moms of Huntington, New York, Facebook page in an effort to track down the author of the post but all that they were able to confirm was that the post at one time had indeed existed. "The fact that the post no longer appears on the page tells us that the person who likely took Salem after writing about her either lost her in the process of 'rescuing' her or simply has no intentions of coming forward to clear up what could well have been a case of mistaken identity (that Salem was homeless)," Eriksen added to the Patch.

Unfortunately, not enough information has been publicly divulged about Salem's disappearance in order to properly evaluate Eriksen's suspicions. First of all, exactly when on August 14, 2014 was she stolen? For instance, did she disappear during the daytime or overnight?

Secondly, is the farm outfitted with surveillance cameras? Thirdly, does anyone actually sleep overnight on the premises?

Presumably, the thief would have needed to have made at least two trips to the farm. Moreover, if the woman had come back during the daytime it is likely that either one of the volunteers or another visitor would have noticed her making off with Salem. If she had returned during the overnight period it would have been difficult, but certainly not impossible, for her to have located the tiny black cat in the dark.

As it so often turns out to be the case whenever a cat is either stolen or abused, it is, ironically, its friendly disposition toward humans that proves to be its undoing. "... sadly it was her friendliness and kitten-like behavior and appearance that likely led to someone's urge to rescue her...," Eriksen conceded in an article posted June 9, 2016 on the Facebook page, Lost Cat Salem.

Even so, the thief would not necessarily have known just how pliable Salem was unless she previously had attempted to pick her up because even some domesticated cats will not allow their longtime owners to do likewise without digging their claws and fangs into them. The thief therefore most likely would have needed a cage although given Salem's diminutive size she could have stuffed her into either a large purse or a bag and then casually strolled off the farm without anyone being any the wiser.

In spite of all of that it still seems somewhat dubious that the woman could have engineered such a daring theft without getting caught flagrante delicto. The strongest argument therefore in support of Eriksen's suspicions is the woman's failure to come forward and to clear up this matter.

First of all, she obviously lives in either Huntington, a city with more than two-hundred-thousand denizens, or nearby. Secondly, she admittedly has visited the farm and was well aware of Salem's presence. Thirdly, she is both computer literate and social media savvy and therefore could not possibly be unaware that Eriksen desperately wants her cat returned.

"Please help give us all the peace of mind and closure that we deserve and that anyone would wish to have under the same heartbreaking circumstances," she pleaded in vain January 4, 2017 on Lost Cat Salem.

Salem Always Had Something Cooking in the Pot Even if It Was Only Herself

Earlier on June 9, 2016 she made a similar appeal. "The only thing worse than having to live with the perpetual question mark and worry that always comes when a pet goes missing is to have a credible lead such as this but no conclusion as of yet," she wrote on Lost Cat Salem.

Given the rather obvious fact that the woman has absolutely no intention of voluntarily returning Salem, that would appear to leave Eriksen with only three options. The best of which would be for her to retain the services of a lawyer, a private peeper, and a computer hacker in order to track down the woman's now deleted Facebook post.

As far as it is known, nothing that is done on either a computer or a mobile telephone ever completely disappears. Rather, it is stored on a server somewhere in the world.

Getting hold of it would be both expensive and time consuming but it could be done. For instance, when the Justice Department in Washington was investigating baseball pitcher Roger "the Rocket" Clemens for perjury a few years back it was able to resurrect seemingly every e-mail letter and text message that he had sent and received dating back for at least a decade.

Eriksen's second option would be to wait until Salem turns up at either a shelter or a veterinarian's office but that alternative would be only viable if she had been previously fitted with an implanted microchip. Plus, in the interim she would need to pay the database company to which the chip is hooked up to in order to keep her contact information up to date.

Sometimes a shelter will be willing to go the extra mile in order to track down an owner who has failed to do so but it would be foolish for Eriksen to rely upon either anyone or organization to be that professional. (See Cat Defender post of March 31, 2010 entitled "A Winnipeg Family Is Astounded by Tiger Lily's Miraculous Return after Having Been Believed Dead for Fourteen Years" and the Iceland Review of Reykjavík, April 10, 2014, "Missing Reykjavík Cat Found Seven Years Later.)

Thirdly, if she has not done so already, Eriksen might want to send Lost Cat posters via the United States Postal Service, as opposed to e-mail, to all shelters and veterinarians operating on Long Island and in New York City. The metropolitan behemoth to the west should be included in that effort not only because seemingly everything on the island tends to gravitate in that direction but also because on March 31, 2013 a five-year-old tuxedo named Disaster was found at Times Square after having disappeared from his home in Woodmere, a scant fifty-three kilometers east of Northport, two years previously. (See Cat Defender post of May 30, 2013 entitled "Stone-Broke, Homeless, and All Alone at the Crossroads of the World, Disaster Is Snatched from Harm's Way by a Representative of the Walking Dead.")

Given that shelters, veterinarians, motorists, ornithologists, wildlife biologists, and others slaughter millions of cats each year, it is a little bit difficult to believe that so many people also steal them. Whereas many of these individuals simply are either too cheap to pay the adoption fees that shelters demand or too lazy to take the time and effort that goes into socializing those that are homeless, others steal cats for a myriad of additional reasons.

For example, a seventeen-year-old tuxedo named Slim was stolen from the Edinburgh neighborhood of Ottawa in June of 2007 because his owners, Michel Giroux and Tanya Guay, allowed him to roam. To add insult to injury, the thief wrote them a defiant and nasty letter after learning of their identities via the information contained on Slim's collar and tag.

"Obviously, I have no intention of returning him to the city streets to be neglected again," that individual declared. "If you really do care about his well-being, you'll be happy that he now lives a safe, sweet, peaceful happy life." (See Cat Defender post of July 9, 2007 entitled "A Hungry and Disheveled Cat Named Slim Is Picked Up Off the Streets of Ottawa by a Rescuer Who Refuses to Return Him to His Owners.")

Later on February 21, 2015, a three-year-old female named Lady Thor disappeared from St. Margaret's Hope on South Ronaldsay in the Orkneys. Her owners, Hamish and Carole Mowatt, later theorized that she either was driven off the island in a motor car or taken aboard the ferry to either Mainland Island or the shores of Scotland.

There would seem to be little doubt that she was stolen in that she not only disappeared from their restaurant sometime between 9 a.m. and noon but, in contradistinction to Salem, she was not a friendly cat who cottoned easily to strangers. (See Cat Defender post of May 7, 2015 entitled "Heartbroken Restaurateurs in the Highlands Are Offering a £1,000 Reward for the Safe Return of Their Beloved Lady Thor.")

Salem Takes Refuge in a Sink During an Unhappy Visit to a Veterinarian

Veterinarians and shelters likewise cannot always be counted upon to return cats to their rightful owners even when they know their identities and addresses. (See Cat Defender posts of June 26, 2012 and January 3, 2006 entitled, respectively, "A Family in Wiltshire Turns to Social Media and Leaflets in Order to Shame a Veterinary Chain and a Foster Parent into Returning Tazzy" and "A Manhattan Court to Rely Upon an 1894 Dog Law in Order to Decide Custody of a Russian Blue Named Oliver Gatsby.")

If data recently released by Direct Line of the Bromley section of London is accurate, the number of cats that are stolen each year is growing exponentially. For instance, the pet insurance company claims that the number of cats stolen in the United Kingdom during 2016 increased by forty per cent over 2014. Even more staggering, three-hundred-sixty-thousand respondents told investigators that they believed that they had had at least one cat stolen during the past twelve months.

That in turn has prompted Kelly Freezer of Bright Side Vets in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, to go off the deep end. "It may not be intentional but the person feeding the cat might think the cat is a stray and encourage it to stay, when the reality is the cat is just looking for food or a comfy place to sleep," she mindlessly gassed to the Burton Mail on September 5th. (See "Swadlincote Vet Makes Plea to Cat Owners as Number of Thefts Continues to Soar.") "For this reason we would discourage people from feeding a cat that isn't theirs, not only could it encourage them to continue to stray from home but they could have special dietary requirements or medications that needs (sic) to be considered."

She is dead wrong about all of that because there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeding a cat, especially one that looks like it could use a good meal. Besides, such cats are already on the street and it is far preferable that they be fed by conscientious individuals in the safety of their gardens and houses as opposed to being allowed to put their lives at risk by venturing out into traffic and consuming whatever they are lucky enough to scavenge on their own, no matter how poisonous or injurious it might be to their health. As far as those that have special dietary and medical needs are concerned, their owners do not have any business turning them loose to roam in the first place.

The decision to bring a cat inside, however, requires considerably more thought. If the area is congested with motorists, it would be totally irresponsible not to bring it inside.

"Cat Found" posters and alerts on social media then could be initiated in an effort to locate its owner. Even if successful, that effort would not provide a completely satisfactory resolution to the moral conundrum of whether or not to return such cat to an owner who is intentionally endangering its life by allowing it to roam traffic-clogged streets.

None of those considerations would tend to apply in the case of Salem in that, as far as it is known, the farm was a perfectly safe environment for her and she was treated extremely well by Eriksen and the other volunteers. Perhaps in hindsight it would have been better if she had either taken her home with her or made additional provisions for her personal safety but those things are difficult to know ahead of time.

Cats are here one moment and gone the next. They also are adept at concealing life-threatening ailments from even the most attentive owners until it is way too late in order to save them. So, in summation, although cats freely bestow upon their owners tremendous amounts of love and joy they always sooner or later end up leaving them with broken hearts, unfathomable mysteries, and deep wounds that are destined never to heal.

"Our love for Salem has no deadline," Eriksen wrote as late as June 9, 2016 on Lost Cat Salem. "There is no statute of limitations on the worry or on our responsibility to do everything we can to locate our long-lost friend who was given no choice in the matter when she suddenly found herself away from the only home she had ever known where her family -- including her twin sister and kitty soul mate, Sabrina -- loves and misses her."

Anyone who therefore should either know anything about Salem's disappearance or have any suggestions to offer as to how that Eriksen should proceed in this matter is urged to contact her by telephone at (631) 261-6320 or by e-mail at friendsofthefarm@ymail.com.

Other than that, she is to be commended for her fidelity to Salem which stands in stark contrast to the callous indifference that both his owner and the University of Edinburgh showed Jordan after he, too, disappeared without so much as a trace. (See Cat Defender post of October 3, 2017 entitled "Jordan, the University of Edinburgh's Library Cat, Disappears into Thin Air but No One Either Cares, Knows or Is Willing to Say What Has Happened to Him.")

It is certainly late in the game and the odds are definitely stacked against Eriksen ever so much as laying eyes upon Salem again but stranger things have occurred in the past so there is at least a faint glimmer of hope that her long search may yet bear fruit. Regardless of whether or not that should come to pass, it can only be devoutly hoped that Salem is still alive and well...wherever she is today.

Photos: Facebook (Salem) and www.change.org (Eriksen with a sheep).