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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

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Thomas Somehow Lives Through the Tubbs Fire in Spite of His Guardians Running Out on Him and Afterwards Being Incarcerated by an Employee of the Cat-Hating National Park Service

Thomas Has Had a Narrow Escape

"He just started clawing at me and slipped out of my arms."
-- Lea Stockham

At approximately 9:43 p.m. on Sunday, October 8th the Tubbs Fire broke out in Calistoga, twenty-seven kilometers northeast of Santa Rosa. The fast-moving blaze traveled nineteen kilometers in the next three hours and was rapidly closing in on Santa Rosa.

Evacuations began at 1:30 a.m. the following morning and on Skyfarm Drive, south of Mark West Spring Road, Dani and Boyd Stockham roused their teenage daughters, fifteen-year-old Lea and sixteen-year-old Grace, and prepared to join their fellow neighbors in fleeing the approaching holocaust. "Get up, get dressed. We got to go," Dani told the girls according to the November 29th edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. (See "Tubbs Fire Victims Thought Their Cat Was Dead and Buried. He Wasn't.") "There's a fire and it's close."

Corralling the girls was easily accomplished in that they did not require any persuading as to the danger that the fire posed to their continued existence. It was an entirely different matter, however, when it came to the family's thirteen-year-old, gray and white resident feline, Thomas. "He just started clawing at me and slipped out of my arms," Lea told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Neither she nor her parents even bothered to so much as go after him; instead, they left him to the mercy of the flames while they hightailed it out of Santa Rosa and to safety. They committed that unconscionable act of perfidy in spite of the fact that he had been an integral part of their family for more than a dozen years.

"I got him when I was two (years old) and he was like my first animal," Lea confessed to KTVU-TV of Oakland on November 29th. (See "Thomas the Cat Reunited with Family Seven Weeks after Going Missing in Santa Rosa Fires.") "Realizing that he was gone was terrible."

Three days later on October 12th, the Stockhams returned to the burned-out rubble that once had been their dwelling and in Thomas' diminutive house on a porch they found the remains of a cat. "It was gray and white and you could just see fur on the back of the head," Dani later related to The Sacramento Bee on November 30th. (See "Family Was Heartbroken over Cat's Apparent Death in Tubbs Fire. Then They Got an Email.") "There was no doubt that it was Thomas."

The family afterwards held a memorial service for him that included a printed program. It is unclear, however, what was done with the victim's remains. They could have been either buried, burned, or casually tossed out in the trash.

After offering up their obsequies, the Stockhams soon forgot all about Thomas, which was certainly easy enough to have done considering all the other pressing matters that they had on their plates. Then, out of the blue, on November 26th they received an email letter from Avid Microchip of Norco, south of Los Angeles, informing them that Thomas was in fact not dead at all but rather very much still alive.

"Initially we thought it was some kind of cruel scan," Dani later told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Lea was every bit as incredulous as her mother. "When my parents said we got the email, I started crying because I was like, 'No way. This can't be happening'," she related to KTVU-TV.

In fact, she was not fully convinced that he was still alive until she, Grace, and her father went and collected him from an undisclosed location. "I didn't believe it till I saw him like meowing and purring. He knew it was me!" she added to KTVU-TV. "It was amazing. I was so happy."

Once she, too, had been convinced that Thomas was indeed still alive, Lea's mother was equally ecstatic. "Thomas is alive! I can't stop shaking!" she told The Sacramento Bee. "It's a miracle for our family with everything we have lost."

On that point, Lea wholeheartedly concurred. "It was honestly like the best day I had since the fire," she swore to The Sacramento Bee. "It was the greatest day ever."

As it later was revealed, Thomas had been found at around 2 a.m. on November 24th on Split Rail Court which is only 1.44 kilometers north of the Stockhams' old abode. Other than being emaciated and slightly injured, he was said to have been in remarkably good shape.

That was rather amazing in itself in that he not only had been forced to elude the flames but to provide for himself in their aftermath for forty-eight days. How that he was able to have pulled off all of that remains a mystery to this very day.

Thomas Is Reunited with Grace and Lea Stockham

It likewise is puzzling that he never returned home. Of course, it is always conceivable that he did so on numerous occasions but never was able to find any of the Stockhams on the premises. Press reports have not delved into the matter but more than likely they were living elsewhere by that time because their house had been rendered completely uninhabitable.

As it soon was learned, he had been found by fifty-three-year-old Shannon Jay of Forestville, eighteen kilometers northwest of Santa Rosa, who is employed as an officer of the United States Park Police (USPP), a division of the Interior Department's National Park Service (NPS). He currently is biding his time trapping cats while on sick leave after having had a benign tumor removed from his brain earlier in the year.

"The idea that they're (cats) out there and people are grieving and (have) lost everything...to just bring that little beacon back to them, to just see how happy they are, it's overwhelming," he gushed to KTVU-TV.

The positive identification of Thomas was made by, not surprisingly, an implanted microchip. The specifics have not been divulged but unless Jay has access to a universal scanner, that determination was made by either a veterinarian or, perhaps, Sonoma County Animal Services (SCAS) at 1247 Century Court in Santa Rosa which is serving as a de facto clearinghouse for animals lost in the Tubbs and other wildfires that broke out last summer and this autumn across both Sonoma and Napa counties.

"Thank God for the microchip. It's such a simple thing," Dani exulted to KTVU-TV. "You just don't think it's going to happen, but (if) he wouldn't have been chipped, they wouldn't have contacted us and I don't think we ever would have found him."

Best of all, Thomas apparently has come through his death-defying travails no worse for the wear. "Thomas is doing great," Lea exclaimed to The Sacramento Bee. "He is still recovering. Very tired and just wants to be beside us."

The news of Thomas' triumph soon was flashed all over both mainstream as well as social media. His is the kind of story that both readers and the capitalist media alike love to wallow in but upon reflection it also leaves much to be desired in the candor department.

Most importantly of all, it has not been adequately explained why that the Stockhams so cruelly and shamefully ran out on him. In particular, exactly where was he and Lea when he slipped out of her grasp?

If they were indoors, she and her family do not have a valid excuse for not collecting him. If, for instance, he had scampered underneath a bed, it should have been dismantled on the spot so as to facilitate his apprehension and caging.

That could not have taken very long and, besides, it and the entire house were destined to be consumed by the flames in any event. On the other hand, if he had run off somewhere outside there was not too much that the members of his family could have done for him. They nonetheless should have at the very least attempted to locate him.

Furthermore, since the entire West Coast stretching from the Mexican border throughout British Columbia has become a tinderbox in recent years, no one residing alongside it has a good excuse for not being prepared in advance for the sudden outbreak of a wildfire. For cat owners, that entails no less than rounding up their companions and confining them indoors at the first report of an approaching conflagration.

A sturdy homemade cage constructed of either wood or steel also is essential. The cheap plastic varieties that the capitalists fob off on the public are not worth so much as a rat's ass under normal circumstances, let alone during an emergency. (See Cat Defender post of March 7, 2008 entitled "Georgia Is Found Safe and Sound after Spending a Harrowing Twenty-Five Days Lost in the Bowels of the New York City Subway System.")

Under such circumstances, all that would be left for an owner to do is to grab the cat, put it in a cage, fire up the old jalopy, and then get out of harm's way. Those owners without automobiles are, unfortunately, pretty much dependent upon the benevolence of their neighbors and rescue personnel.

Accurate statistics are pretty much impossible to obtain, but as of November 3rd SCAS reported that ninety-five lost cats had been found but that one-hundred-fifty-six others were still missing. (See The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, November 7, 2017, "Amid Sonoma County Wildfires, One Group Uses Social Media to Reunite Pets and Their Families.")

In Sonoma County alone, hundreds more of them likely perished in the Tubbs Fire. Some of them either were homeless to begin with or belonged to TNR colonies but the vast majority of them, apparently, were abandoned by their owners. Even more repulsive, some of those owners still have not even so much as attempted to reclaim them.

Their callousness, including that of the Stockhams, gives a hollow ring to their declarations of undying love. "It's a miracle...it's life-changing," Dani caroled to KTVU-TV. "It really changed the whole dynamic of our recovery."

While it doubtlessly is a miracle that Thomas is still alive today, that is due solely to his own perseverance. Stockham and her family ran out on him in his hour of greatest need and therefore contributed absolutely nothing toward saving his life.

Moreover, they were so eager to believe that he had been burned to death that they grabbed the first dead cat that they came across upon returning home, declared him to be Thomas, disposed of his corpse, and then curtly dismissed the entire matter from their minds. The only thing that can be said in their favor is that they are not the first individuals to have made such a colossal mistake.

Shannon Jay Tinkering with One of His Traps

For example, in May of 2013 forty-eight-year-old Karen Jones of Mardol Road in Ashford, Kent, scooped up the lifeless body of a black cat that had been run down and killed by a hit-and-run motorist on Beecholme Drive in the Kennington section of Kent. Believing it to have been her two-year-old cat, Norman, she eulogized it and buried it in her garden. It therefore was not until the following morning when he turned up for breakfast that she finally realized her faux pas.

Since she thoughtlessly allows him to roam the perilous streets of Kent unescorted both day and night she sans doute had been expecting the worst and, like Stockham, simply buried the first dead black cat that she encountered. (See Cat Defender post of June 12, 2013 entitled "Pronounced Dead, Eulogized, and Then Relegated to the Underworld, Norman Astounds His Guardian by Turning Up Hungry and Grumpy for Breakfast the Very Next Morning.")

On January 25th of last year, thirty-five-year-old Matt Strong found a dead cat in the road outside his house on Barlow Moor Road in Manchester City that he mistook for his beloved three-year-old Gus. He accordingly took the cat's corpse home, buried it in his garden, and afterwards announced on Twitter that Gus was dead.

The local politician got the shock of his life, however, when Gus later turned up for lunch. He nevertheless did have the decency to exhume the dead cat and take it to Ashleigh Veterinary Centre so as to provide its owner with an opportunity to reclaim his remains.

Like Jones before him, Strong resides on a busy street and had been halfway expecting Gus to get mowed down by a motorist. In this case, however, he simply put one and one together and came up with three. (See Cat Defender post of October 7, 2016 entitled "Declared Dead and Prematurely Interred, Gus Gets the Last Laugh for Now but the Next Time Around He May Not Be Quite So Lucky, Especially If His Inattentive Owner Does Not Start Taking Better Care of Him.")

It is not always easy to know exactly what to think about such aberrant behavior. On the one hand, it certainly would have been easy enough for the cats' respective owners to have made such glaring mistakes, especially if the corpses had been either badly mangled or charred.

If that were not the case, their incorrect identifications likely can be attributed to either a lack of  attention to detail or callousness. Plus, the owners more than likely had been not only anticipating their cats' demise but hoping for such dénouements as well.

The more that the matter of inattentive and uncaring owners is delved into the uglier it gets. For in addition to burying the wrong cats, some owners actually have been guilty of burying those that were still very much alive. (See Cat Defender post of June 24, 2013 entitled "Buried Long Before Her Time, Muffin Is Freed from the Crypt by Her Devoted Six-Year-Old Snuggling Partner.")

Jay and his trapping initiative is another matter of grave concern. Far from being the unqualified good that the media in the Bay Area would have the public to believe, it never has been publicly disclosed what he does with the cats that he traps.

The most likely conclusion to be drawn from that simply deplorable situation is that he fobs them off on SCAS and other nearby shelters who, sooner or later, systematically liquidate them. That is how that all such hellhole institutions dispose of their excess "inventories."

If there is any truth in that assertion, he most definitely is not a hero and he certainly is not doing the vast majority of the cats that he traps any favors. In fact, they would be far better off if he simply vacated the playing field and left them to their own devices.

To incarcerate and kill such cats is not only morally indefensible but vividly demonstrates that they have far more to fear from mankind than natural disasters. The utter absurdity of trapping fire victims just to turn around and kill them leads to the suspicion that there could be an ulterior motive behind Jay's activities.

According to press reports, he has undertaken this trapping initiative of his own volition but considering the vast array of flashlights, trail cameras, thermal imaging scopes, night vision goggles, traps, and bait that he makes use of in his work that seems unlikely. Most damning of all, it is all but impossible to believe that anyone who works for the NPS could ever be on the side of cats.

For example on June 8, 2014, it gave the caretakers of a TNR colony comprised on thirty-three cats a scant five days in order to get out of Plum Beach in Brooklyn. If they had not complied with that outrageous edict, the NPS had vowed to not only destroy the cats' winterized shelters and feeding stations but to trap them and subsequently hand them over to Animal Care and Control to kill. (See Cat Defender post of August 7, 2014 entitled "The National Park Service Racks Up a Major Victory by Expelling the Plum Beach Cats but It Is Thwarted in Its Burning Desire to Dance a Merry Little Jig on Their Graves.")

The NPS' sister agency within the Interior Department, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, not only has exterminated more than two-hundred cats on San Nicolas but trapped, stolen, injured, and killed an even greater number of them in the Florida Keys. (See Cat Defender posts of February 24, 2012 and June 23, 2011 entitled, respectively, "The United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Humane Society Hoist a Glass in Celebration of Their Extermination of the Cats on San Nicolas Island" and "Wallowing in Welfare Dollars, Lies, and Prejudice, the Bloodthirsty United States Fish and Wildlife Service Is Again Killing Cats in the Florida Keys.")

Furthermore, it would be rather difficult to find so much as a solitary entity within the federal bureaucracy that is not actively involved in defaming and killing cats. (See Cat Defender posts of June 23, 2017 and April 28, 2017 entitled, respectively, "For Eight Long and Tortuous Years, Barack Obama and His Bloodthirsty Henchmen Within the Federal Bureaucracy Waged a Ruthless, No-Holds-Barred War on Cats" and "Trump Not Only Exposes Himself for What He Is but Also Disgraces the Office of the President in the Process by Feting Cat Killers Theodore Anthony Nugent and Kid Rock at the White House.")

In light of its hideous mistreatment of cats, it is not the least bit surprising that both sexual abuse and gender discrimination are rampant at the NPS. (See the Government Executive of Washington, October 13, 2017, "Zinke Cracks Down on Sexual Harassment in National Park Service" and The Washington Post, June 14, 2016, "Lawmakers Charge Park Service Chief Oversees Culture of Sexual Harassment.")

At the Grand Canyon River District, male employees of the NPS even have gone so far as to attempt to starve their female colleagues to death after they shunned their sexual overtures. (See The New York Times, October 13, 2017, "Zinke Vows to End 'Virus' of Harassment in Park Service.")

Thomas Is Now Safe and Sound but for How Long?

Those types of wholesale abuse and discrimination are not by any stretch of the imagination confined to the NPS but rather they have engulfed the entire Interior Department as well. (See The New York Times, December 14, 2017, "Thousands of Interior Department Employees Report Harassment and Intimidation at Work.")

The rot even extends to the department's Office of Law Enforcement and Security (OLES), which oversees the activities of its various police forces, including Jay's own USPP. For example, OLES' head man, Tim K. Lynn, was forced to resign in April after six of his female employees accused him of sexual harassment. (See The Washington Post, May 31, 2017, "A Senior Interior Official Retires after Investigators Find He Sexually Harassed Multiple Women.")

Dani Stockham's profuse praise of implanted microchips is also way off base. Most importantly, they in no way afford cats so much as an iota of protection against either the myriad of dangers that plague their fragile existences or the dereliction of owners such as she. (See Cat Defender post of May 25, 2006 entitled "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats.")

They additionally have been shown to cause cancer and, sometimes, paralysis. (See Cat Defender posts of September 21, 2007, November 6, 2010, and April 28, 2016 entitled, respectively, "The FDA Is Suppressing Research That Shows Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer in Mice, Rats, and Dogs," "Bulkin Contracts Cancer from an Implanted Microchip and Now It Is Time for Digital Angel® and Merck to Answer for Their Crimes in a Court of Law," and "Sassie Is Left Paralyzed as the Result of Yet Still Another Horribly Botched Attempt to Implant a Thoroughly Worthless and Pernicious Microchip Between Her Shoulders.")

Even when it comes to reuniting lost cats with their owners microchips are virtually worthless unless the latter have studiously kept their contact data up to date and database administrators are willing to cooperate. (See Cat Defender post of January 24, 2017 entitled "Tigger Is Finally Reunited with His Family Despite the Best Efforts of the Administrators of a Microchip Database to Keep Them Apart.")

The subject is almost never so much as even broached in the United States but implanted microchips do not do either deceased cats or their grieving owners one whit of good. That is because those officials who collect the former's corpses from streets and crime scenes are too lazy and callous to scan them for microchips.

The same holds true for individuals. For instance, the Stockhams would not have buried the wrong cat if they had scanned the dead one that they had found on their porch.

As far as Norman and Gus are concerned, it never was disclosed one way or the other if they had been chipped. It likewise is assumed that the cats buried in their would-be graves were not scanned either.

Doing so would have required trips to either a veterinarian or a shelter and perhaps Jones, Strong, and the Stockhams were unwilling to have invested the time and money that such an exercise would have required. Also, the negative reports that they would have received would have placed them under a moral obligation to, at the very least, have inaugurated belated searches for their still missing cats.

It is an entirely different story in some parts of Angleterre where at least twenty local authorities have now begun to scan dead cats for chips. Afterwards, they then attempt to track down their owners. (See Your Local Guardian of Sutton in Surrey, September 4, 2017, "Croydon Council Says It Checks for Microchips on Dead Cats Following Concerns Owners Kept in Dark.")

To sum up, microchips are of rather limited utility in that for every successful reunification that they help to facilitate, thousands of other lost cats are never heard from again. At the end of the day there simply is not any substitute for conscientious owners who regard the lives of their cats as sacrosanct and accordingly endeavor to do everything in their power to preserve them.

Every once in a blue moon Good Samaritans and firefighters will go out of their way in order to save a cat that gets caught up in a wildfire but that is the exception rather than the rule. (See Cat Defender posts of November 20, 2017 and October 14, 2015 entitled, respectively, "Already Ten Years Overdue, the Indomitable Pilot Is Burned to Within an Inch of His Life by a Deadly California Wildfire but Nonetheless Is Still Able to Finally Make It Home in Time for This Thanksgiving" and "Because a Compassionate Firefighter from Oregon Chose to Care When His California Guardians Could Not Be Bothered with Doing So, Monty Burns Is Able to Escape the Valley Fire with His Life.")

Lastly, the severest criticism is reserved for the members of the Fourth Estate who once again have more than abundantly demonstrated that they care absolutely nothing about the welfare of cats. In this particular case, they have completely exonerated the Stockhams, shelters, and Jay of all wrongdoing by refusing to ask so much as one pertinent question about their behavior and activities.

Even worse, that is merely par for the course as far as they are concerned in that the only topics that ever seem to interest them are either good cat survival stories or the outrageous lies disseminated by ornithologists, wildlife biologists, and other ailurophobes. The capitalist media's news coverage is simply god-awful everywhere but in the United States it is the absolute pits.

Looking ahead, Thomas does not appear to be in any imminent danger. Even so, the Stockhams still reside in wildfire country and the outcome could be entirely different next summer if they do not endeavor to take better care of him by mending their callous and irresponsible guardianship of him.

As things now stand, he is still very much on his own just like he was when the roaring flames of the Tubbs Fire consumed his home and threatened to claim his life. Somehow it just seems that in any society that makes the least little pretense about being compassionate and civilized that a faithful and devoted thirteen-year-old cat would be entitled to far better treatment than that.

Photos: Dani Stockham (Thomas), Shannon Jay (Thomas in a cage), and Alvin Jordana of The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa (Jay).