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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

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tigger Is Finally Reunited with His Family Despite the Best Efforts of the Administrators of a Microchip Database to Keep Them Apart

Tigger Was Subjected to Years of Turmoil and Uncertainty

"A microchip registration should not be treated as proof of ownership, but rather it is a record of keepership. That is, where a pet animal normally resides and is intended to assist reunification if the pet goes missing."
-- a spokesperson for Petlog

"Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive," Sir Walter Scott observed in his 1808 epic poem, "Marmion," and those sentiments are perhaps nowhere more à propos than when it comes to implanted microchips. As their universality continues to grow, so too do the problems and absurdities associated with them as the preferred method of keeping track of companion animals.

The double-edged nature of these onerous devices was driven home in rather stark fashion to forty-one-year-old Karen Jones and her three children of Drayton Bassett, five kilometers south of Tamouth in Staffordshire, late last July when she, out of the blue, received a letter from the microchip database Petlog requesting a change of ownership for her seven-year-old Bengal, Tigger. To say that the missive left her dumbfounded would be a classic understatement of the first order.

That is because not only had she not put in such a request but, more importantly, the designer cat that she had shelled out £800 for in 2009 had mysteriously disappeared without so much as a trace four years earlier in 2012. At that time, she and her children, Carmen now thirteen, Leon now fifteen, and Sam now nineteen, had searched high and low for him and even resorted to fly-posting the neighborhood with Lost Cat posters but they never were able to find either hide or hair of him. They even notified Petlog and their veterinarian but those efforts likewise failed to bear fruit.

"I couldn't believe it when I discovered Tigger was still alive," Young, who works in the beauty industry, told The Telegraph of London on August 12, 2016. (See "Missing Cat Found after Four Years -- but Family Can't Be Told Who Has It Because of Data Protection Rules.") "It'd be (sic) so long, that I had given up all hope of seeing him again."

Her elation that Tigger was still alive melted quicker than a cone of ice cream on a hot July day however when Petlog, which is supposed to assist owners in reclaiming lost cats, unexpectedly stiffed her. "But when I got in touch with Petlog and told them I was the owner and I wanted to be reunited with my cat, they refused to tell me who had him, due to data protection rules and instead said they'd pass on my details," she disclosed to The Telegraph. "They told me it was up to the people who had him to get in touch with me."

By that she was referring to the Data Protection Act (DPA) of 1998 which Petlog, quite obviously, interprets in an extremely inflexible fashion. That is nothing, however, compared to the novel view that it holds regarding microchips themselves.

"A microchip registration should not be treated as proof of ownership, but rather it is a record of keepership," a spokesperson for the company proclaimed to The Telegraph."That is, where a pet animal normally resides and is intended to assist reunification if the pet goes missing."

Even though circumstances abound whereby someone, usually a close family member, serves as the caretaker of a cat without actually owning it, most individuals nevertheless would be shocked to learn that there exists a legal distinction between keepership and ownership and that microchipping alone is therefore insufficient to establish the latter. Au contraire,  it would appear that if Young had not either received or responded to Petlog's letter that Tigger's current guardians would have been able to legitimize their possession of him by simply putting in a change of ownership in the database.

The entire rationale behind microchipping then would have been turned on its head with Young left out in the cold as the biggest loser. "I had no right to my own cat," she later correctly deduced to the Daily Express of London on August 17th. (See "Cat Finally Reunited with Owners after Four Years Missing and a Data Protection Battle.")

Perhaps most galling of all, Petlog insisted upon referring to Tigger's new guardians as his owners and that really got Young's goat. "I was furious," she exclaimed to The Telegraph.

Although she may have run up against a brick wall in her frustrating dealings with Petlog, she still had the law on her side. Armed with both a receipt of purchase as well as a pedigree certificate, both of which she had wisely retained over the years, she took her case to the Staffordshire Police where she, surprisingly, found receptive ears.

"Via a third party, this individual or individuals have been made aware that the cat in their possession has an owner and they should take appropriate steps to return the cat to its rightful owner," a spokesman for the department told The Telegraph. "We expect this to happen. Failure to do so could result in further action."

The specifics have not been spelled out in media reports but it nevertheless is believed that the undisclosed third party was someone that had contacted Young via social media and she in turn then relayed that information to the police. Regardless of the exact details, Young eventually learned that Tigger was residing in Sutton Coldfield, a suburb of Birmingham located nine kilometers southwest of Drayton Bassett.

Realizing that the game was up, Tigger's guardians belatedly contacted Young and he was returned to her during the second week of August. "The kids were close to tears when I walked in the door with him," she confided to the Daily Express. "Me and my kids were over the moon and were relieved he was okay."

It is far from clear what would have transpired if his interim caretakers had not complied with the warning issued to them. While it is entirely conceivable that the police could have unilaterally procured a warrant and seized him, a more likely scenario is that a protracted and expensive legal tug-of-war would have resulted.

Best of all as things eventually turned out, Tigger apparently had been treated well during his prodigal years and therefore was no worse for the wear in spite of having endured many trials and tribulations. "The people who had Tigger said they purchased him for £200 from a woman who was moving into a high-rise flat," was about all that Young was able to disclose on that subject to the BBC on August 16th. (See "Data Protection Row' Cat Owner Reunited with Pet.")

She nonetheless suspects that he may have been stolen before he was passed on to the family in Sutton Coldfield. For their part, the police apparently found the caretakers' story to be plausible in that no charges were filed against them.

Karen Young Fought Tooth and Nail in Order to Get Tigger Back

Since press reports have not divulged the circumstances surrounding Tigger's disappearance in 2009, it is difficult to evaluate Young's claim that he was stolen. In particular, if he was allowed out-of-doors, almost anyone could have mistakenly picked him up off the street falsely believing that he was homeless.

That happens all the time and although cats are richly entitled to their freedom, allowing them to roam exposes them to a myriad of dangers. It also leaves their owners open to charges, no matter how frivolous, of being unfit caretakers.

That is especially the case if their cats are deemed to be disheveled, injured, or out in traffic. Their rescuers therefore sometimes have valid reservations about returning them. (See Cat Defender posts of July 9, 2007 and June 26, 2012 entitled, respectively, "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" and "A Family in Wiltshire Turns to Social Media and Leaflets in Order to Shame a Veterinary Chain and a Foster Parent into Returning Tazzy.")

All things considered, Young and her children are extremely fortunate to have found Tigger again after so many years. If, on the other hand, his interim caretakers had not requested a change in ownership not only would they never have seen him again but they likewise would not have known whatever became of him. Under such cruel circumstances any measure of closure would have been totally out of the question.

Unlike collars and tattoos, implanted microchips are not visible to the naked eye and therefore the two, or possibly more, guardians that Tigger had between 2012 and 2016 in all likelihood were unaware that he was a lost cat with an owner who desperately wanted him back. That discovery likely was not made until fairly recently and then only during a routine visit to a veterinarian.

None of that explains, however, why neither his last interim caretakers nor the attending veterinarian failed to notify Young. It is a murky area of the law but apparently veterinarians are not under any legal obligation to notify the authorities whenever they treat a cat whose implanted microchip lists its owner as being someone other than its current guardian.

The only remotely similar case in recent memory involved a four-year-old gray and white female named Tabor who was picked up off the streets of Portland in September of 2012 by a homeless man named Michael King. After a nine-month tour of the West Coast, he took her to Helena Veterinary Service in June of the following year for a routine check-up and that is when a microchip was discovered that revealed her legitimate owner to be Ronald A. Buss of Portland.

Without so much as a moment's hesitation, King did what was legally required of him by promptly returning her to Buss. By that time, however, he already had moved on to the next chapter in his turbulent life by acquiring a new traveling partner and that development made Tabor expendable.

It never was disclosed what, if any, action that the surgery would have taken if he had refused to contact Buss and to return his cat. (See Cat Defender post of July 5, 2013 entitled "Tabor's Long and Winding Road Finally Leads Her Back Home but Leaves Her with a Broken Heart.")

In her case Young is, quite understandably, thoroughly disgusted with the entire business of microchips. "Based upon my experience I think microchipping is a scam," she ranted to The Telegraph. "I paid for a service I'm not receiving. It's a mockery and protects criminals."

She is equally fed up with Petlog. "I'm glad the keepers did the right thing and realized how much misery they were causing us all, but it's no thanks to Petlog," she averred to the Daily Express. "The fact still remains that Petlog didn't help me get Tigger back."

The DPA likewise has not escaped her vituperation. "It's up to the integrity and goodwill of people who find your cat to return it," she pointed out to the BBC. "If it falls into the wrong hands, they can hide behind the Data Protection Act."

For its part, Petlog stubbornly insists that the only allegiance that it owes is to the authorities. "In the case of stolen pets...Petlog will work with the police and other relevant authorities, but it is against data protection legislation to provide personal data to third parties," a spokesperson for the firm swore to the BBC.

That admission brings up the still unresolved issue of what, if anything, that it did with the lost cat report that Young filed with it in 2012. At the very least it should have made a notation in its database that Tigger had been reported missing.

If it had done its due diligence, it then would have readily known that something was amiss as soon as his interim caretakers had filed a change of ownership request and under those puzzling circumstances it should have either contacted Young by telephone or the Staffordshire Police. It accordingly seems rather clear that Petlog failed both Tigger and Young in its mission to protect their interests.

Furthermore, if Young was furious at the firm for referring to Tigger's interim caretakers as his "owners," she surely must have hit the ceiling once she learned that it considered her to be a mere third party. Although that in itself is a disturbing commentary upon just how shabbily both cats and their owners are being treated by those individuals and groups who are lining their pockets by peddling Silicon Valley snake oil to the naïve, it is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg as far as the difficulties and dangers that implanted microchips pose to both cats and their owners.

Although this is the first such known incident on record whereby a microchip database company has freely chosen to hide behind privacy law protections in order to thwart the expressed purpose of the devices, it would be rather naïve to believe that Tigger is an isolated case. A large part of the problem in determining the extent of such malfeasance lies in trying to get to the bottom of a rather complicated matter that is little understood outside the microchip industry itself.

Carmen with a Remembrance of Her and Tigger

Owned by The Kennel Club of London, Petlog boasts on its web site that it is the United Kingdom's "largest database for microchipped pets" but since there are at least a dozen known microchip purveyors throughout England it is by no means the only one. By contrast, in the United States there are at least fourteen known manufacturers of microchips with, presumably, their own individual databases. Plus, RFID-USA of Tampa claims to be a national pet microchip registration base.

Complicating matters further, microchips operate on different frequencies and therefore require multiple hand-held scanners in order to be deciphered. The chips themselves also sometimes move around once implanted and therefore are difficult to locate even if the appropriate scanners are available.

The chips additionally have been known to malfunction with disastrous consequences, such as leaving pets marooned in foreign countries. That is an especially frightening possibility considering that the European Union mandated in 2011 that all pets crossing the borders of its member states must be microchipped.

It is almost superfluous to point out but unless guardians keep their contract information up-to-date in the databases it it almost impossible for lost pets to be reunited with them. (See Cat Defender posts of March 31, 2010, July 25, 2014, and August 26, 2015 entitled, respectively, "Winnipeg Family Is Astounded by Tiger Lily's Miraculous Return after Having Been Believed Dead for Fourteen Years," "Poussey Overcomes a Surprise Boat Ride to Dover, a Stint on Death Row, and Being Bandied About Like the Flying Dutchman in Order to Finally Make It Home to La Havre," and "A Myriad of Cruel and Unforgivable Abandonments, a Chinese Puzzle, and Finally the Handing Down and Carrying Out of a Death Sentence Spell the End for Long-Suffering and Peripatetic Tigger.")

That is one reason why that England and Wales impose a £500 fine on all dog owners who not only fail to microchip them but also to keep their contact information current. As of yet, neither jurisdiction requires that cats be chipped but that is the law in both Spain and Belgium.

The biggest impediment in the entire scheme lies, arguably, in the limited availability of scanners in that, as far as it is known, only shelters and veterinarians have access to them. If, on the other hand, they were readily available to the general public it is entirely possible that at least some lost pets would be promptly returned to their legitimate owners.

As things now stand, that does not always happen. Rather, it is often years, and even decades, before lost cats are brought to either a veterinarian or a shelter and their implanted microchips found and read. Regrettably, by that time their owners often have relocated elsewhere and therefore are nowhere to be found. Even worse, some of them no longer want any part of their long-lost cats.

The sale and implantation of microchips also is a thinly-disguised cruel and inhumane money-making racket. In their quest to make as much moola as possible in the shortest amount of time coupled with the least amount of exertion, some veterinarians have been known to carelessly ram home these devices on top of vaccination sites which in turn has led to cats developing cancerous growths.

Others think absolutely nothing at all of implanting them on top of spinal cords. For example, back in 2014 a three-year-old calico named Sassie from Consett in County Durham was left paralyzed as the result of such gross negligence.

Plus, removal of the chip cost the offending party, the Durham County Council, £3,000. (See Cat Defender post of April 28, 2016 entitled "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.")

In Angleterre, the cost of having a microchip implanted in an animal generally runs between £25 and £30 and as such these procedures constitute a quick and easy way of turning a fast buck. It therefore is not surprising that the RSPCA, Cats Protection, the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals have jumped on the microchipping bandwagon in spite of the dangers associated with these devices.

Not a great deal is reported in the media about what goes on inside shelters but if what happened to a gray and white tom of unspecified age named Cooper last year while he was unjustly incarcerated at the Rowan County Animal Shelter in Salisbury, North Carolina, is indicative of prevailing conditions and procedures elsewhere, the number of grotesquely botched microchipping operations performed annually at these thinly disguised death houses surely must be staggering. (See Cat Defender post of June 23, 2016 entitled "The State of North Carolina's Veterinary Division Is Covering Up a Savage Beating Dished Out to Cooper at the Rowan County Animal Shelter During the Course of a Microchipping Fiasco.")

In addition to the advisability of implanting any foreign object in an animal, there is a growing body of research linking microchips to the development of cancer. (See Cat Defender posts of September 21, 2007 and November 6, 2010 entitled, respectively, "FDA Is Suppressing Research That Shows Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer in Mice, Rats, and Dogs" and "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.")

By far and away, however, the strongest argument against these odious devices is that they offer cats absolutely no protection whatsoever against motorists, other animals, and a multitude of individuals and organizations intent upon doing them harm. (See Cat Defender post of May 25, 2006 entitled "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats.")

Their manufacture, implantation, and recordkeeping also provide the financial and political elites with yet still another golden opportunity to snoop, dominate, and ultimately control the lives of both cats and their owners. Once all of their demerits are taken into consideration the benefits that they offer are negligible to say the least.

Young's roller-coaster ride with Tigger also serves to refocus attention on the myriad of problems associated with owning hybrid cats. Created from the forced breeding of Asian Leopard Cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) with Egyptian Maus, Abyssinians, and other unspecified domesticated breeds, Bengals such as Tigger are four generations removed from their wild ancestors.

Even as such, man's patently cruel and immoral manipulation of their gene pools has not been able to completely eradicate their wild natures. Consequently they, like all hybrids, are high maintenance cats that require a good deal of both attention and space.

Mother and Daughter Finally Have Tigger Back Home Where He Belongs

Not surprisingly, they do not like being cooped up indoors all the time and according have a tendency to run off whenever the least little opportunity presents itself. That, most likely, is how that Young lost custody of him in the first place although thievery also is a distinct possibility.

On a much broader scale, it is difficult to understand how that any hybrid cat ever could be completely contented in a domestic environment. In addition to that, they are prone to genetic abnormalities that often shorten their lives.

Furthermore, many jurisdictions around the world have statutes that outlaw the ownership of them. Most tragic of all, whenever they are able to shake off the shackles of domestication their only reward is often to be shot on sight by either ignorant citizens or trigger-happy cops.

Even if they are able to stay alive under such perilous circumstances, sooner or later they are trapped and wind up spending the remainder of their days in either some hellhole shelter or zoo. (See Cat Defender post of February 20, 2008 entitled "Exotic and Hybrid Cats, Perennial Objects of Exploitation and Abuse, Are Now Being Mutilated, Abandoned, and Stolen.")

Their tendency to run away from home coupled with owners who intentionally abandon them to their own devices has even necessitated the creation of rescue efforts designed to shelter and rehome specific breeds of them. Considering the millions of homeless and unwanted cats that are systematically exterminated en masse each year by shelters and veterinarians, homeless designer cats are the absolute last thing that this world needs.

Just as it would be utterly impossible for any whorehouse to stay in business for very long without a rather substantial client base, sadistic and greedy breeders of these cats rely upon an equally callous public that is willing to shell out big bucks in order to bask in the hubris of being able to show them off to their friends and acquaintances. Therefore, in spite of the cruelties inflicted upon them by both parties, the variety as well as the overall number of designer cats continue to increase.

One of the more popular breeds are Savannahs, which are a cross between African Servals and a variety of domestic cats such as Oriental Shorthairs, Egyptian Maus, Serengettis, Ocicats, Chausies, and Bengals. (See Cat Defender posts of May 19, 2015 and April 19, 2014 entitled, respectively, "Savannahs: More Feline Cruelty Courtesy of the Capitalists and the Bourgeoisie" and "Doomed from Conception to a Lifetime of Naked Exploitation and Destined Never to Fit In Anywhere, Chum Is Gunned Down in Cold Blood on the Violent Streets of Lawless and Uncaring Detroit.")

Asheras, which are a cross between African Servals, Asian Leopard Cats, and a "trade secret" domestic, also are growing in popularity. (See Cat Defender post of February 19, 2008 entitled "Asheras Are the Designer Chats du Jour Despite the Cruelties Inflicted During Their Hybridization.")

Although they are still very much a breed in development, Toygers are supposedly the end product of forcibly breeding Bengals with the offspring of an unidentified cat abducted from streets of Kashmir. (See Cat Defender post of April 13, 2007 entitled "Killing and Torturing Wild and Domestic Cats in Order to Create Toygers Is Not Going to Save Sumatran Tigers.")

In the United States, the breeding of bobcats with domestics in order to create Pixie-Bobs and similar varieties has spawned all sorts of dilemmas. (See Cat Defender posts of June 28, 2007, December 19, 2008, April 26, 2014, and May 29, 2014 entitled, respectively, "Rural Alabama Man Makes a Killing Forcibly Breeding Domestic Cats to Bobcats in Order to Create Pixie-Bobs," "Regardless of Whether He Is a Pixie-Bob or a Bobcat, It Is Going to Be a Blue Christmas for Benny after He Inadvertently Bites Santa Claus," "The Opportunistic Old Hacks Who Run the Show in New Jersey Are All Set to Unjustly Condemn Rocky to a Lifetime Behind Bars for, Basically, Daring to So Much as Breathe," and "The Odds Were All Against Him and His Enemies Were Well-Financed and Unscrupulous but Rocky Nonetheless Prevails in a Stafford Courtroom.")

Trumping all of the cruelties and inequities involved in not only domesticating but in breeding hybrids is the disturbing petit fait that their creation requires the removal of their progenitors from the wild. Although Prionailurus bengalensis still inhabit a large swath of the earth that includes Russia, Korea, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, and parts of Indonesia, that does not necessarily mean that their survival is by any means assured.

For instance, the Chinese, Thais, and Myanmars traffic extensively in their fur, flesh, and body parts. Farmers also shoot them on sight in order to protect the chickens that they in turn slaughter in droves.

Their habitat also is shrinking. For example, on Iriomote in the Yaeyama Islands of the Ryukyu chain, a subspecies of them, Prionailurus bengalensis iriomatensis, is being decimated by both developers and motorists. That is so much the case that perhaps fewer than two-hundred of these critically endangered cats still exist. (See Cat Defender post of November 27, 2006 entitled "After Surviving on Its Own for at Least Two Million Years, Rare Japanese Wildcat Faces Its Toughest Battle Yet.")

The hybridization of Asian Leopard Cats was first reported in 1889 but such unions were not officially confirmed until 1934. It took another thirty ago, however, for Bengals to become a popular breed.

It also is believed that Leopard Cats were the first breed to have been domesticated in China. That reportedly occurred more than five-thousand years ago and long before they were supplanted in domestic circles by the more common Felis sylvestris lybica of African and the Near East.

Regardless of whether their domestication involves either the genuine articles or hybrids, neither process augurs well for their long-term survival in the wild. What the species needs is to be left alone in protected habitats coupled with a ban of all trapping and killing.

As far as Tigger is concerned, he certainly has done remarkably well in order to have persevered throughout all the upheaval that has been thrown at him during his short life. It remains to be determined, however, if Young and her family are capable of holding on to him this time around.

Beyond that, it would be refreshing if they were willing to devote the time, effort, and resources that are necessary in order to make him at least somewhat contented with his unfortunate lot in life. It was not his fault that he was born with a mixed set of genes that have left him suspended midway between two rather different, but equally demanding, worlds.

Photos: The Telegraph (Tigger and Carmen with a picture of him), the BBC (Karen Young), and the Daily Express (the happy reunion).

Friday, January 06, 2017

Whisper Is Given the Bum's Rush at the Tri-County Library in Mabank by a Gang of Mendacious and Power-Hungry Politicans Hellbent Upon Asserting Their Authority

Whisper Was a Fixture at the Library for Eight Years

"Let the population have a voice in this. This is a quality of life issue."
-- Ed Busch of Friends of the Animals Low-Cost Spay and Neuter Clinic

For every library cat that is able to fend off an eviction attempt countless others wind up relegated to the ranks of the dispossessed. Sadly, that was the cruel and grotesquely unfair fate recently meted out to a mild-mannered, eight-year-old female with gorgeous long gray and white fur named, à propos, Whisper by an out of control gang of thoroughly ruthless and mendacious politicians in Mabank, one-hundred-forty kilometers southeast of Fort Worth.

Adopted as a kitten from the Friends of the Animals Low-Cost Spay and Neuter Clinic in Gun Barrel City, eight kilometers southeast of Mabank, Whisper had spent her entire life at the Tri-County Library.  Loved and admired by staffers and patrons alike, she served as the institution's mascot, goodwill ambassador, and resident mouser.

Her birthdays were celebrated with punch, cake, candles, and presents and her mere presence brought in countless visitors who came specifically in order to meet and greet her. That in turn doubtlessly generated revenue for the perennially cash-strapped library. Best of all as far as the facility was concerned, Friends of the Animals footed the bill for her food, litter, vaccinations, collars, and toys.

All went swimmingly until ownership of the facility passed from private hands to the city of Mabank in September of last year. That was when the authorities, in a desperate search for a defenseless victim that they could screw to the wall with impunity and thus by doing so bring the library to heel underneath their thumbs, decided to go after Whisper. As a consequence, she was ordered in no uncertain terms to vacate the premises by no later than October 1st.

Ailurophobia sans doute also factored heavily into that decision but it appears to have been of secondary importance. This was primarily a naked power grab and nothing less.

That is easy enough to see by the gargantuan lengths that the politicians have gone to in an effort to justify their outrageous behavior. For instance, the mayor of the tiny city of three-thousand souls, Jeff Norman, has thrown everything except the proverbial kitchen sink at Whisper by falsely accusing her of being potentially responsible for a myriad of totally fanciful calamities.

First of all, he claims that her presence at the library will prompt city employees to demand that they too be allowed to keep pets at work. Yet, he has not presented one iota of evidence to indicate that ever has occurred during Whisper's long tenure at the library and as a consequence it is unlikely to happen now that the facility is under new management.

Secondly, although he claims to have received complaints about her, he likewise has not produced so much as a scintilla of evidence to substantiate that allegation. "I've received comments disfavoring the cat," is all that he was willing to divulge to The Monitor of Mabank on October 7th. (See "City Evicts Whisper, the Cat, from the Library.")

Thirdly, he has brought up that old bugaboo about cats and food being incompatible and since the library has a kitchen Whisper ergo has to go. That is hardly an issue in that the vast majority of these amenities are not really full-blown kitchens at all but rather they are usually pretty much limited to a coffee maker, a microwave oven, and sometimes a refrigerator. Furthermore, these rather spartan facilities are included as a convenience to staffers and seldom, if ever, are the food and drinks that are prepared there served to the public.

Fourthly, he has argued that if the city had not taken over the library it would have been forced to close and Whisper therefore would have lost her home in any event. That too is an irrelevant argument because the library did not in fact close but it is still very much open for business. Moreover, he should not be allowed to get away with dishonestly packing off blame for Whisper's ouster on the library's former owner and that individual's financial straits.

Jeff Norman

Fifthly, this laughingstock of a mayor has accused Whisper of being diseased, flea-ridden, and violent. "As difficult as this is, we must regard the safety and the needs of all our constituents and the potential danger and risk associated with animals and the resulting liability of the library if anyone is injured because of disease, fleas and ticks, allergens, or biting and scratching, whether intended or unintended," is how that he blew it out both ends to The Monitor on November 4th. (See "Whisper's Eviction Stands.")

Norman's sottise was quickly refuted by Ed Busch of Friends of the Animals who told The Dallas Morning News on November 2nd that Whisper not only does not have fleas but that the library likewise does not, thanks to her presence, have mice. (See "Texas City Shelves Vote on Cat Kicked Out of Mabank Library.")

Much more to the point, there is absolutely nothing in press reports to even remotely suggest that Whisper ever has either bitten or scratched anyone during her eight years in residence at the library. Even if she were to accidentally do so it would not be all that big of a deal given that she is up-to-date on her vaccinations.

Fifthly, Norman has had the unmitigated gall to enlist the support of the confirmed cat-haters at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta in his unholy crusade against Whisper. "Please refer to the CDC for the potential harm we are trying to avoid," he implored readers of The Dallas Morning News.

Given the extravagant lengths that he has been willing to go to in order to fabricate a totally bogus case against Whisper, it is a tad surprising that he did not attempt to resurrect that nonsensical old wives' tale about cats sucking the breath out of infants. That is precisely what novelist Anita Shreve so shamefully stooped to in the following memorable passage from her 1989 novel, Eden Close:

"Andrew, who has settled for a casserole left by the Ladies Guild, which looks more or less like goulash, remembers the afternoon Edith Close left the baby (Eden) outside in the carriage without the net and went upstairs to lie down. The Closes' honey-colored cat -- whose jealousy, unlike his mistresses (sic), was uninhibited -- leapt silently into the carriage and was about to do away with the usurper when the baby's screams brought Andy's mother running from the kitchen. She scooped up the child, giving the sullen cat a remarkably deft kick -- thinking the row would alert her neighbor."

Also, he could have chosen to have gone whole hog and aligned himself with the likes of the National Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy and accused Whisper of being a menace to birds by simply staring cross-eyed at photographs of them contained in books! Whenever an individual is as determined to get rid of a cat as Norman was to do with Whisper the potential slanders and libels that he is capable of manufacturing out of thin air are almost endless.

All over the world political hacks stick together like congealed feces and that certainly has proven to be the case in Mabank. For example, former mayor and current city councilman Larry Teague could not resist the temptation to sound an alarm over liability issues.

"We've said nothing against it (Whisper residing at the library so long as it was in private hands)," he gassed to The Monitor in the October 7th article cited supra. "But things are different now. There's liability."

He then went on to postulate that individuals are more prone to bring legal action against governmental entities than they are to go after private concerns. "They wouldn't hesitate to sue over the smallest of harms or perceived harm," he declared to The Monitor. "It's a whole different animal."

Larry Teague

When Busch attempted to argue that insurance would protect the city from any potential lawsuits involving Whisper, he was immediately shot down by Teague's and Norman's comrade-in-arms, city manager Bryant Morris who, like them, has an answer for every objection so long as it is compatible with getting rid of the cat. "Though the city may be covered, the insurance agency doesn't recommend it," he averred to The Monitor.

On all of those issues Teague is guilty of not only drawing legs on a snake but of being considerably less than forthright. First of all, aggrieved individuals must have the ability to instigate legal action and that requires, like everything else in this world, time and money.

If they should belong to the ranks of the impecunious, their only recourse is to locate attorneys who are willing to take their cases on a contingency basis and that is not an easy feat to pull off considering that liability shysters only take on those that they have a good chance of winning in court. With that being the case, the actual number of aggrieved individuals who receive compensation for their injuries is rather small.

Secondly, for individuals who have been injured and have the resources to sue it is highly unlikely that it makes much difference to them whether their opponent is a private or a governmental entity. Besides, civil lawsuits involve considerably more than money in that complainants also want those responsible for their injuries and suffering to be held publicly accountable regardless of how much or little compensation they ultimately pocket.

Civil suits also benefit society enormously through the spillover effect that they have upon the future behavior of both actual and potential wrongdoers. Sometimes just the mere threat of legal action is sufficient in itself in order to prompt both private and governmental concerns to mend their evil ways.

Thirdly, for Teague and his cronies to invoke the liability argument against Whisper in an effort to get rid of her is simply absurd. In the first place, even if she did accidentally scratch or bite someone it is highly unlikely that the aggrieved individual would sue over such a trifling matter. Moreover, even if worse came to worst it is doubtful that such action would end up costing the city very much of its precious moola.

Potential liability issues involving Whisper also pale in comparison to the almost endless array of other litigious matters that can, and often do, end up costing municipalities like Mabank a pretty penny each year. Chiefly among them are lawsuits that result from, inter alia, police misconduct, sexual harassment and assaults by city employees, job discrimination, unlawful terminations, vehicular and mass transit mishaps, slips and falls on city-owned properties, and citizens who contest fines, code infractions, and tax bills.

It accordingly is safe to conclude that the list of potential liabilities that cities face is almost endless whereas it is extremely doubtful that any of them ever has been held negligent in a court of law because a cat scratched someone. The politicians' eagerness to plumb the outer limits of contorted logic has however inadvertently exposed a rather disconcerting truth.

C'est-à- dire, given the large number of real, as opposed to imaginary, liability issues that could arise it is simply too risky for the city of Mabank to continue to exist. As a consequence, it should immediately take down its shingle and go out of business altogether.

In fact, it may already be too late for it to ward off financial ruin. That is because Norman, Teague, and Morris have so overworked their desiccated old gourds in fabricating a make-believe case against Whisper that they, in all likelihood, are now prone to developing aneurisms.

Once that occurs, the taxpayers are going to be stuck with picking up the humongous tabs for not only their surgeries but their disability retirements as well. It is superfluous to point out but modern medicine has yet to come up with cures for rotten brains and diseased souls.

Whisper Celebrating Her Fourth Birthday Back in 2012


In addition to being mean-spirited, high-handed, and a complete fabrication of the truth, the politicians' eviction of Whisper was undemocratic as well. Not only was that decision never submitted to the public for approval, but Norman stated at an October 4th city council meeting that it would be put to a vote at the next meeting. That turned out to be a bare-faced lie because when the council next met on November 1st he categorically refused to even put the matter on the agenda.

"We tried to get some idea of what the citizens of Mabank think about this issue and it didn't matter at all," Busch lamented to The Dallas Morning News. "They're (city council) happy with the result. The cat's out. We're going to have to go to the city and ask that it be put on the agenda."

Better still, he would like to see the matter put to the people. "Let the population have a voice in this," he told The Monitor in the October 7th article cited supra. "This is a quality of life issue."

Unless pressed, Norman and his entrenched cronies are not about to allow that to happen. "La politique, c'est l'art d'empêcher les gens de se mêler de ce qui les regards," Paul Valéry once observed.

The politicians in Mabank have now added the Tri-County Library, which serves not only Mabank but surrounding Henderson and Kaufman counties as well as adjacent Van Zandt county, to their personal fiefdom and they are not about to willingly relinquish control of it. "Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, never can willingly abandon it," Edmund Burke once pointed out. "They may be distressed in the midst of all their power, but they will never look to anything but power for their relief."

In that light it would be foolish for anyone in Mabank to believe that Norman's insatiable lust for power and domination ever can be slaked by merely nailing Whisper's lovely hide to his garage door. Au contraire, he doubtlessly is going to insist upon having a say in personnel matters and who is allowed to use the library.

It is even conceivable that he may demand to have a veto on what books and videos are allowed on the facility's shelves. Censorship of the Internet also is a distinct possibility. Whether it is termed as fascism or simply as the will to power, politicians of his ilk never have recognized either any limits or boundaries upon the exercise of their authority.

Lamentably, Busch and Whisper's other supporters so far have proven themselves to be rather anemic when it comes to putting pressure on Norman and the city council to reverse their eviction edict. Petitions have been circulated and dozens of Whisper's advocates have turned up at council meetings but that has been pretty much the extent of the opposition that they have been able to muster.

Unless they are being shortchanged by the local media, they have not been all that vociferous either with the notable exception of library volunteer Howard Hopkins. "I've seen families come to the library, and seeing the cat is the highlight of their visit," he told The Monitor on October 7th.

That fact has been corroborated by Busch's wife, Sydney. "Mabank residents aren't the only ones who regularly use that library," she told The Monitor on that same date. "Some of the most regular visitors come primarily to visit Whisper."

Whisper Looks Longingly Back at What Used to Be Her Home


Even the library's director for the past two and one-half years, Brandi Marett, has been conspicuously silent on this momentous issue and that makes it difficult to gauge her feelings. Most likely she is too preoccupied with sucking up to Norman in order to save her own miserable hide in order to be bothered with Whisper's problems.

The good news is that her photograph still adorns the library's web site so staffers have not completely written her out of their lives just yet. Its caption, which states that "Whisper is always here to learn and grow at the Tri-County Library Mabank," is a little bit out of date, however.

If the gross injustice done to her is going to be reversed and she returned to the only true home that she ever has known, Whisper's supporters need to emulate the sterling example set last autumn by their neighbors in White Settlement, one-hundred-fifty-four kilometers to the northwest, who put the heat on their local politicians to rescind an eviction notice that they had issued to a cat named Browser at their public library. If that should fail, they always could take revenge upon Norman and his fellow gang members by voting them out of office on the next election day just as the citizens of White Settlement courageously did with Browser's chief antagonist, Elzie Clements. (See Cat Defender post of December 28, 2016 entitled "Browser Beats Back a Determined Effort to Oust Him from the White Settlement Public Library and in Doing So Has the Distinct Pleasure of Seeing His Political Nemesis Voted Out of Office.")

Since there has not been any news recently out of Mabank regarding Whisper it is not known what, if any, efforts are being contemplated by Busch and Friends of the Animals in order to have her reinstated at the library. In the meantime, she is said to be residing fulltime with an unidentified volunteer from the library who previously had been taking her home with her on weekends when the facility was closed.

A far more pressing concern is what is going to become of her if she is not returned to the library. Under that scenario, the best that can be hoped for her is that the volunteer will adopt and give her the permanent home that she so richly deserves. If that is not in the cards, perhaps Friends of the Animals will be able to place her in another home.

Even then she doubtlessly will miss all the attention that was lavished upon her at the library but cats are highly adaptable animals and, in time, she should be able to adjust without too much difficulty to new surroundings and caretakers. Her new home would, quite obviously, need to be a loving one where she is showered with attention as opposed to being simply housed, fed, and left to her own devices.

"These (library cats like Whisper) are the kind of things that make up the character of the city," Ed Busch astutely pointed out to The Dallas Morning News. "And I'm disappointed that they (city council) don't see it the same way."

The cruel fate visited upon Whisper also is a matter of justice and fairness. Aside from that, the city's decision to evict her is yet still another troubling benchmark on the road to the marginalization of cats everywhere.

Finally, as far as it is known, Mabank does not have an official motto of its own. Gun Barrel City on the other hand has adopted "We shoot straight with you" as its slogan.

The Busches therefore might want to consider coming up with an appropriate moniker for Mabank that not only would distinguish it from Gun Barrel City's motto but also call attention to how horribly it has mistreated Whisper. One possible suggestion would be: "Lies, bullshit, and abusing cats are our specialties." That would pretty much sum up in a nutshell how that the city conducts business.

Photos: The Dallas Morning News (Whisper looking out the window), City of Mabank (Norman and Teague), The Monitor (Whisper celebrating her fourth birthday), and the Tri-County Library (Whisper looking back).