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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, August 08, 2018

Under Fire for Abandoning Three Cats to Languish in an Unheated Vehicle for Twenty-Three Days Without Food and Water, Staffers at the Edmonton Humane Society Are Now Attempting to Save Their Own Miserable Hides with a Trumped-Up Outside Inquiry

The Shelter Is a House of Horrors Plagued by Gross Incompetence

"This is by far the worst nightmare for any of our team members -- from the people that were driving to the people that receive them -- all of the staff members involved were deeply affected. They have been receiving ongoing care to ensure that their mental health is addressed."
-- Jaime Caza, director of the Edmonton Humane Society
The bandying about of cats, dogs, and other animals from one shelter to another is a fairly recent and little understood development within the field of animal welfare. With the stated objective of such herculean efforts being to save lives by removing animals from high-kill and overcrowded shelters in favor of those that not only have the available space to accommodate them but, much more importantly, an abiding commitment to achieving something approaching no-kill, participants improvise a variety of both ground and air transportation modes. (See The Washington Post, May 13, 2017, "From Death Row to Adoption: Saving Animals by Car, Van, Bus and Even Plane.")

Such schemes have their fair share of drawbacks, however. For instance, subjecting already terrified animals who have lost their freedom and homes to such grueling expeditions only adds to their stress levels and that in turn can sometimes undermine their physical health as well.

Inclement weather and the ever-present dangers that always accompany venturing out onto this world's severely congested roads and into its likewise overcrowded skies are two additional concerns. None of those worries are in any way comparable however to what The Shadow once famously termed as "the evil that lurks in the hearts of men" and in that light it is truly ironic that a strategy designed to save lives sometimes actually ends up nearly extinguishing them instead.

Sad but true that was the disquieting reality that befell Lucky, Magic, and Chance earlier in the spring when they had the simply god-awful misfortune to have fallen into the clutches of the Edmonton Humane Society (EHS). The charity and its legions of protectors within the Canadian political establishment have been extremely tight-lipped about the matter and as a consequence the particulars are sketchy but nevertheless on March 27th two or more unidentified employees of it collected an unspecified number of animals from the Grande Prairie Regional Animal Care Facility (GPRACF) in the city of the same name, four-hundred-fifty-nine kilometers northwest of Edmonton.

Upon their return to Edmonton, they inexplicably neglected to unload the three cats. As a result, they were cruelly condemned to spend the next twenty-three days locked inside their cages in their transport vehicle, believed to have been a refurbished recreational vehicle, without anything to either eat or drink with the exception of the little bit of water and food that they had been supplied with at the outset of their four and one-half hour journey.

Compounding their already nearly impossible struggle to stay alive, there was not any heat in the vehicle and spring arrives rather late north of the border. For example, over the course of the twenty-two nights that they spent trapped the average overnight temperature was only -9.17° Celsius (15.49° Fahrenheit) with the thermometer plunging to between -12.3° Celsius and -20° Celsius on no fewer than ten of those occasions.

Conditions did not improve all that much even with the return of Old Sol given that the average daytime reading during their twenty-three days of incarceration was only -0.05° Celsius (31.91° Fahrenheit) with the thermometer surpassing the freezing mark on only ten occasions. (Those statistics were extrapolated from data supplied by climate.weather.gc.ca)

Assuming that the doors of the vehicle had been secured and the windows rolled up, the temperature inside of it would have been tolerable, but unpleasant, for the cats. Their lack of anything to eat and drink not only would have weakened them but made it more difficult for them to have properly regulated their body temperatures.

Not a good deal is known about how that the minds of cats function but there can be little doubt that the trio was placed under intense psychological stress. The utter hopelessness of their predicament alone would have defeated most men.

As things eventually turned out, their plight was not discovered until April 18th and that only came about when staffers were preparing to use that particular vehicle for another animal transfer. Most amazing of all, they were still alive, that is, if the EHS is to be believed.

They were extremely dehydrated and famished however as well as suffering from urine burns to their paws. Staffers accordingly administered intravenous fluids, gave them some food, and bathed them. They also more than likely were placed on heating pads in order to rapidly elevate their body temperatures and administered antibiotics and painkillers, all of which are standard components of supportive veterinary care in such emergencies.

Veterinary reports obtained from the EHS by Global News of Vancouver have failed to shine much in the way of additional illumination on the cats' condition. For example, the April 18th report on Lucky, a four-year-old Domestic Shorthair, states only that he was dehydrated, famished, and had suffered mild urine scalding on his paws.

Magic, a one-year-old Domestic Shorthair, was said to have "urine and feces caked on fur around (her) hind end." Two-year-old Chance, however, was said to be vomiting and suffering from diarrhea.

Most alarming of all, the cat also was diagnosed with high alanine transaminase (ALT) which, tragically, is an indicator of severe liver damage. In fact, any cat that is forced to go without an adequate supply of food and water for a prolonged period of time is prone to both liver and kidney damage.

Oddly enough, there is absolutely nothing in Global News' cursory review of the veterinary reports concerning any of them as having either broken or worn-down claws which are rather common injuries sustained by cats whenever they attempt to extricate themselves from cages and other enclosures. One possible explanation is that the cats already were too bedraggled as the result of being shuttled around so much as to have put up much of a fight. Another possibility is that the network wanted to conceal from the public just how much hell that they had been put through and the extent of the injuries that they had sustained during their captivity.

In spite of all of those concerns, the April 26th report by the EHS' veterinarian paints a rather rosy picture of their health. "All three cats are doing well. Bright, alert, and responsive and eating well," Global News reported on June 4th. (See "Edmonton Humane Society Reviews Policies after Cats Forgotten in Vehicle for Three Weeks.")

Four days later on April 30th, the EHS sent the cats packing and back out on the road once again and this time around they were bound for the Calgary Humane Society (CHS), two-hundred-ninety-nine kilometers to the south. The charity was careful, however, not to inform its sister agency of either what the cats had been put through or their compromised health.

To its credit, the CHS apparently did not have the least bit of difficulty in securing homes for them. Tragically for their new guardians, they very well may have fallen in love with cats that may not have all that long to live.

"We were not made aware of the circumstances behind the transfer," the CHS admitted to Global News. "Upon learning of potential concerns over this previous transport, we have since contacted the adopters to ensure they're doing well and to contact us with any health concerns. We're maintaining open communications to ensure that their health is the primary focus."

It Is Believed that the Cats Were Abandoned in an RV Like This One

EHS director Jaime Caza was so glad to finally have gotten rid of them that she was unable to disguise her glee. "The cats are doing very well" she gushed to Global News. "We're really pleased to report that they have since been adopted and are now in their forever homes. We're really grateful for that."

In her defense, she claims that she did provide the CHS with the cats' veterinary records. She just conveniently neglected to inform it of how terribly close to death that they had come and of any possible organ damage that they could have sustained because of her shelter's totally unforgivable negligence.

"The cats were healthy. We didn't transport them until they were healthy," she fired back to Global News. "In any case, when you're transporting animals you don't deliver all of the facts like that. We saw that as an internal issue."

C'est-à-dire, Caza and the EHS are committed to not only inflicting hideous amounts of untold abuse and punishment upon innocent cats through their wholesale neglect of them but also to fobbing off their malfeasance onto other charities and unsuspecting adopters. If she and the EHS were operating on the level, the very least that they would have done was to have informed the CHS of what the cats had been put through as well as to have volunteered to foot their veterinary bills for the remainder of their lives.

The EHS' dishonesty also indirectly throws open a proverbial Pandora's box concerning the legitimacy and honesty of all rescue groups and, in particular, the health of the cats that they sell back to the public. For some individuals that is a moot point owing to their willingness to adopt, love, and care for even sickly and dying cats. Even so, the emotional toll that such cats take on them can be overwhelming.

Other individuals are neither willing nor financially able to assume such a burden. Regardless of how the cats' new owners may feel, the EHS is still guilty of patent dishonesty and deceptive business practices.

It additionally is guilty of attempting to cover-up this incident from the public and, even more disturbingly, it came awfully close to having gotten away with doing so. In particular, news of what had occurred did not leak out until late May when an unidentified source ratted it out to Global News.

Even then that shocking disclosure did not come until a full two months after the cats had been abandoned. That in turn casts considerable doubt on speculation that the tipster could have been one of the EHS' two-thousand volunteers; rather, it seems in hindsight more likely that either one of them or a staffer blabbed to a third party outside the organization who then notified Global News.

The mere fact that it took so long for this incident to see the light of day is itself a staggering indictment of the perfidy of the shelter's one-hundred-twenty-five paid employees. Furthermore, anyone who cared even the tiniest little bit about the welfare of the cats never would have turned a blind eye to their suffering and hideous neglect.

Even though it had been foiled in its attempt to sweep this incident underneath the rug, the EHS quickly demonstrated its adroitness under fire by morphing rather seamlessly into damage control mode. "A series of unintentional events occurred that resulted in an internal review and a subsequent update to our transfer policies and procedures...," the charity told Global News. "Additional checks and balances have been put into place to make sure a situation such as this does not occur again and to minimize the risk of human error. Heightened requirements have already been implemented."

As far as the EHS was concerned, the matter was now not only closed but destined to remain a private one as well. It accordingly defiantly declared to The Canadian Press of Toronto on June 5th that it was not going "to release any additional details due to "the sensitive nature of this incident and to respect the privacy of the employees involved and impacted." (See "Cats Survive in Vehicle for Twenty-Two (sic) Days after Edmonton Humane Society Forgets Them.")

Just how determined the head honchos were to save their own miserable hides at the expense of both their innocent victims as well as the truth was soon made only too clear by Caza. "This is by far the worst nightmare for any of our team members -- from the people that were driving to the people that receive them -- all of the staff members involved were deeply affected," she unashamedly vowed to Global News in the June 4th article cited supra. "They have been receiving ongoing care to ensure that their mental health is addressed."

As simply outrageous as that is, crying a proverbial river for animal abusers and killers while simultaneously being unwilling to shed so much as a solitary teardrop for their innocent victims is every bit as quintessentially Canadian as brutally bludgeoning to death up to half a million baby seals each spring off the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador. For example, at the close of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Robert Fawcett of Howling Dog Tours of Whistler was left with one-hundred Siberian Huskies that he no longer needed.

Being way too cheap to feed and shelter them, he shot some of them and slit the throats of the remainder before burying their corpses in a mass grave. He would have gotten away scot-free with his atrocities and the world never would have been any the wiser if he had not gotten even still greedier and applied for a disability pension on the grounds that killing the dogs had left him with a posttraumatic stress disorder.

Numbskull  bureaucrat Allan Wotherspoon of Work Safe BC bought into his outrageous baloney and granted him a pension on January 25, 2011. The media shortly thereafter got wind of what he had been up to and a few minor charges eventually were laid against him. Even when he finally was forced to face the music on November 22, 2012, Judge Steven Merrick of the North Vancouver Provincial Court let him off with a minuscule fine of C$1,725. (See Macleans Magazine, October 27, 2011, "Whistler's Sled Dog Massacre" and The Globe and Mail of Toronto, November 22, 2012, "Fawcett Spared Jail Time in Sentencing Related to Sled Dog Killings.")

Then there is the Canadian populace's near unanimous embracement of big-game hunter and all-around louse Steve Ecklund to contemplate. He hosts a show called "The Edge" for Wild TV of Edmonton and among his outrageous antics he claims that killing a Dall's Sheep in Alaska helped him to defeat cancer.

Last December, he shot, killed, and then devoured a beautiful cougar that he had run to the ground with bloodhounds somewhere in the vicinity of the towns of Rocky Mountain House and Drayton Valley in southern Alberta. Afterwards he went on social media in order to brag, gloat, and preen about his reprehensible crime and that, too, was applauded by the Canadian government, media, and the country's degree mills. (See Cat Defender post of January 21, 2018 entitled "Steve Ecklund's Savage Killing of a Cougar and Vainglorious Gloating, Strutting, and Preening Are Resoundingly Applauded by Canada's Ever Obliging Media and Complicitous Universities.")

Caza's promises and blustering were more than sufficient, however, in order to ward off any intervention on the part of the Edmonton Police. Although to be honest about the matter, she could have spared her gums the beating that she gave them because the force is far too derelict and lazy to have done anything anyway.

Even Terra Johnston of the Alberta SPCA quickly came down with a sudden case of lockjaw. "I can confirm we are aware of the animal welfare concerns identified at the Edmonton Humane Society; we are mindful of EHS' response to those allegations," was all that she was willing to admit to Global News on June 5th. (See "Legal Expert Questions Edmonton Humane Society Investigating Itself in Case of Forgotten Cats.") "Unfortunately, we cannot comment on active or ongoing investigations. At this time there will be no further comment."

The Purported Veterinary Reports on Lucky, Magic, and Chance

True to her word, she has not uttered so much as a solitary syllable on the matter since then but other individuals and groups have not been so easily silenced. "In 2018, we still largely leave the enforcement of animal cruelty laws to private charities and, in our view, this isn't good enough anymore," Camille Labchuk of Animal Justice in Toronto averred to The Canadian Press. "There should be state agents involved in investigating and prosecuting these offenses and there should be a pretty high degree of transparency and accountability."

Barbara Cartwright of Humane Canada in Ottawa, an umbrella group that represents the country's one-hundred-twenty-five humane societies and SPCA's, concurred with Labchuk on the absurdity of allowing the EHS to investigate itself. "This incident highlights a need for an independent review mechanism for organizations that both care for animals and also enforce the law, as more than forty per cent of humane societies and SPCA's in Canada are responsible for enforcing both the federal and provincial animal protection laws," she wrote in a June 7th press release. (See "Humane Canada Statement on Recent Incident at Edmonton Humane Society.")

She vociferously disagreed with Labchuk, however, as to who should conduct such outside inquiries. "If animal cruelty enforcement were to be taken away by the policing sector or any other public institutions, we would lose that singular focus on animals and their welfare," she continued. "Animals deserve more than that."

She glaringly neglects to mention who should select the private concerns that she envisions as looking over the shoulders of her humane societies and SPCA's. Given that she is on sabbatical until January, perhaps doing so would have taken up too much of her leisure.

Also, since when did sitting around twiddling one's thumbs all day become such an arduous job that it merits such a lengthy vacation? Instead of constantly kvetching to the media about her members being underfunded, she would be better off taking into consideration all the feline and canine lives that she alone could save if only she were willing to stop so shamefully ripping off Humane Canada by pocketing such huge paychecks for not even working. (See the Huffington Post, November 10, 2016, "The Hard Facts About Canada's Humane Societies and SPCA's.")

No cause célèbre that ever occurs in Canada is seemingly complete without the country's capitalist media turning to some luminary from its numerous degree mills in order to help point out the way down the old sawdust trail for both the uneducated as well as the imbecilic and on this occasion they buttonholed Peter Sankoff of the University of Alberta in Edmonton. "You have a body investigating itself and then deciding whether it's appropriate to do anything about it," he superfluously observed to Global News in the June 5th article cited supra. "That concerns me a great deal."

After repeatedly making that point ad nauseam but without offering any viable alternative, he went off the deep end by pledging his unwavering support for the EHS. "It seems to me fairly clear, based on the evidence as presented by the Edmonton Humane Society, that the animals were in a state of distress," he continued to Global News. "I'm willing to accept that it was accidental, no one acted maliciously, but the statute doesn't require that. It doesn't require any malicious or willful cruelty. The Alberta Animal Protection Act requires animals be kept out of distress."

First of all, given that he was not present when the cats were so thoughtlessly abandoned, he is hardly in any position to make a determination that what was done to them was accidental. Secondly, as a law professor he should be well aware that all halfway legitimate legal systems base their holdings on the available evidence, not beliefs.

The only thing that Sankoff accomplished with his long-winded spiel was to cement his position within Alberta's legal and political establishment as a team player whose support and loyalty can be relied upon through thick and thin. Other than that he added absolutely nothing worthwhile to either the intellectual debate or, more importantly still, the uphill struggle to upgrade the treatment of cats throughout the province.

Although some advocates for the cats had hoped that a groundswell of support for them would materialize that, regrettably, never happened. Even without it, however, the EHS was prompted to reverse course on June 7th and to publicly state that it was at least willing to consider the possibility of an outside inquiry. It was several weeks later, however, before the particulars of what it had in mind were made public.

"We have voluntarily asked a third party to investigate the cat transfer incident that took place earlier this spring, to independently probe what happened and make recommendations to improve animal safety and staff practices and policies," the EHS announced June 29th on its Facebook page.

That also marked the first time, as best it could be determined, that its chief executive officer, Miranda Jordan "Smitty" Smith, was able to muster enough moxie to even publicly address the matter. "Our non-profit organization is extremely remorseful about this incident," she declared June 29th in an EHS press release. (See "Third Party Investigation Launched after Cat Transport Incident.") "We've been providing compassionate and high-quality animal welfare services in our community for more than one-hundred years and while incidents like this are rare, we need to learn from mistakes."

The first thing that those who do the hiring at the EHS need to get through their thick craniums is not to employ neophytes like Smitty. For instance, she claims to have a B.A. degree from the University of Alberta and an MBA from the University of Liverpool to go along with a diploma of unspecified nature in public relations from MacEwan University in Edmonton and a post-graduate certificate in non-profit management from Harvard.

She additionally serves on the board of directors for Humane Canada as well as vice chairwoman of Women for a Humane Canada. She also claims to foster animals for the EHS and to have a pair of daughters who do volunteer work there but other than that it has not proven possible to find any mention online of her as either ever having operated a shelter before or as previously having had any first-hand experience in the animal welfare field. Even more startling, this appears to be the first time that she actually has held a job of any kind.

It accordingly would not be the least bit surprising if she spends her days locked away in her palatial office counting her money, gossiping on the blower with her cronies, doing her nails, photocopying her crack, and engaging in any number of a thousand other base pursuits that sods like her resort to in order to fritter away their already worthless lives. In addition to being pretty far gone to begin with, it is a foregone conclusion that anyone as degreed and certificated as she is not about to turn so much as a hand at any kind of worthwhile toil; on the contrary, it is the world that owes her an easy and comfortable living and not vice-versa.

Moreover, the EHS' staffing difficulties are endemic to all shelters and Animal Control agencies in that the administrative positions invariably go to greedy and violent cops on the prowl for another paycheck, retired political hacks, and other hangers-on and assorted riffraff. At the other end of the totem pole, the donkey work is usually performed by an assortment of miscreants who are unable to land jobs anywhere else, save perhaps at old folks' homes, the Salvation Army, dollar stores, and Mickey D's.

The third party that the EHS dredged up in order to investigate itself turned out to be none other than Kim Krushell who served for nine years on the Edmonton City Council before stepping down in 2013 in order to found E.P Rees, which develops software packages for banks and law firms. C'est-à-dire, Smitty and her fellow old hacks at the EHS have chosen another old hack from Edmonton's political and business establishment to investigate themselves.

Any glimmer of hope that Krushell had any intention whatsoever of acting as an honest broker was quickly dashed when she entered the fray by telling whoppers. "This is an extra step that they did not have to take that demonstrates that they want to get to the bottom of everything that happened," she blew it out both ends to the CBC on June 29th. (See "Investigation Launched after Edmonton Humane Society Forgets Cats in Vehicle for Twenty-Two (sic) Days.")

Au contraire, the public had lost confidence in the charity and it had to do something not only in order to silence its critics but to restore its credibility as well. Money also sans doute factored heavily into that equation considering that the EHS receives a full forty per cent of its annual C$7 million operating budget from private donations and its mistreatment of the cats had placed that largess in jeopardy.

Kim Krushell
It additionally is utter nonsense for Krushell to assert that the EHS wanted to get at the truth. On the contrary, the shelter knows only too well what happened. The only remaining tasks are to name names, assign blame, and to mete out punishment.

It also was made crystal clear that the proceedings were not being handled on the up-and-up when Krushell was forced into taking the extraordinary step of attempting to justify her own appointment. "They needed somebody...who had the skill set to be able to do an independent investigation and ensure that it's a fair and public process," she continued to the CBC. "And I have done that in the past. I mean, I've dealt with some pretty controversial issues when I was on council."

According to her profile on Know It, Live It, she previously has cleaned houses, tended bar, and worked in a pulp mill in addition to being a politician and a software developer. Nothing contained online, however, even so much as remotely hints at her, like her buddy Smitty, as having any prior experience in the field of animal welfare.

The EHS nevertheless might be able to utilize her experience as a charwoman in order to put her to work mucking out the cages. It might even be able to get a little light housekeeping out of her provided that it kept after her with a horsewhip but that is about all.

To top off the entire charade, Krushell will not even be conducting the investigation; rather, that task has been assigned to an unnamed private firm hired by, believe it or not, none other than the EHS! "The investigators will not be reporting to the humane society, they'll be reporting to me," she added to the CBC. "That ensures that the process is fair and open."

What a hoot! With the EHS having selected both Krushell and the investigators there is little chance that the probe is going to be either fair or open. On the contrary, it is going to be conducted behind closed doors and in secrecy and at the end of which the investigators, Krushell, and the EHS are going to sit down and concoct an elaborate whitewash designed to ensure that Caza, Smitty, and their underlings hold on to both their jobs and paychecks.

Like bank auditors, the investigators certainly are aware of where their moola is coming from and, more importantly, exactly what type of conclusions that they are expected to arrive at, especially if they want to both receive their pay and any future work. It is not known if Krushell is being compensated monetarily for providing her nonexistent expertise.

Even if none of those involved were being paid, that would not necessarily alter the conclusions that they arrive at and that is attributable to the fact that all elites stick together like mud to the heel. It therefore is not hard to understand that for such an inquiry to have any legitimacy it must be conducted by someone or group outside the Edmonton political establishment and who is both experienced in and dedicated to animal welfare.

Despite the utterly absurd ruse that the EHS is attempting to pull off, loudmouths Labchuk and Sankoff have remained every bit as quiet as church mice as the latest chapter in this pantomime has unfolded. Given that Cartwright has not seen fit to once again interrupt her long vacation in order to dash off another tersely worded press release, that is perhaps an indication that this is the type of private inquiry into her humane societies that she fully supports.

She and her comrades-in-arms, Smitty and Krushell, are much like the curios found in antiques shops. They are not worth much of anything, nobody really knows exactly what they are, and no one in his right mind would want to buy them. Yet there they remain year after year, in the way, taking up space, and collecting dust.

Other than the horrific suffering and inhumane deprivations inflicted upon Lucky, Magic, and Chance, the EHS' second greatest crime has been its assault upon the truth. To state the matter succinctly, its version of events simply does not make sense.

First of all, the cats likely were being transported in three separate cages and that is too large of a cargo for anyone to easily overlook. Secondly, since Caza refers to "the people" who were driving the vehicle that strongly implies that there were at least two of them and that in turn makes it still even less likely that the cats could have been accidentally forgotten.

Thirdly, Caza once again refers to "the people" responsible for checking them in upon their arrival at the EHS and it does not seem possible that they could have failed to have noticed that three cats were missing. Even if that indeed had been the case, so much as a cursory review of the paperwork that accompanied that particular consignment of animals would have alerted them to that disturbing fact.

Fourthly, it is difficult to believe that the vehicle in which the cats arrived sat idly in EHS' parking lot for twenty-three days without anyone so much as going anywhere near it. That is especially the case given that it usually is a good idea to occasionally turn over the motors of parked vehicles during prolonged periods of bitterly cold weather.

Besides, if anyone from EHS had gone anywhere near it they more than likely would have overheard the cats crying for help and thrashing around in their would-be tombs. Fifthly, given that pet carriers are always in such short supply at shelters, it is a bit baffling that no one at EHS even noticed that three of them were inexplicably missing.

Sixthly, the deafening silence on the part of the GPRACF needs to be explained. If it were doing its job, it would be up in arms about the EHS' malfeasance and yet the world so far has not heard so much as a peep out of it.

The most logical conclusion to be drawn from its reticence is that it is so glad to be rid of the cats that it does not give so much as a rat's ass about the miseries that since have befallen them. After all, such thoroughly reprehensible conduct is fairly common.

For example, PETA operates a fleet of vans that burn up the back roads of southern Virginia and northern North Carolina collecting cats and dogs from various shelters. Their drivers inform the operators of those facilities that they intend to find homes for their unwanted charges and sometimes even mail back photographs of them frolicking in the gardens of their supposedly new homes.

In reality, however, the snaps are staged and the animals, invariably, are long dead. Instead PETA kills them inside its death vans and later dumps their corpses in Dumpsters. (See Cat Defender posts of January 29, 2007 and February 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in a North Carolina Courtroom" and "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs.")

Miranda Jordan Smith

Yet even after PETA's despicable crimes received a public airing in court, none of the shelters that cooperated with it were willing to either publicly denounce it or, as far as it is known, to stop doing business with it. That in turn makes it highly likely that both they and PETA are still working their diabolical machinations without anyone being any the wiser or, for that matter, even caring one way or the other.

Michelle Elfstedt wants to change all of that by enshrining in law protections for animals that are bandied about in transit. "The British Columbia Animal Protection Act actually has a section in there (on) how...the humane societies and rescues have to deal with the transport of animals," she told the CBC on June 16th. (See "Group Calls for Change after Rescue Cats Left in Vehicle for Twenty-Two (sic) Days.") "There's nothing like that in the Alberta Protection Act and we feel there should be to hold some sort of standard to the EHS, because the EHS is actually not accountable to anyone."

In furtherance of that worthy objective, she has started a petition at change.org where she alleges that the crimes of the EHS date back years. In particular, she claims that the shelter has been so flagrantly neglecting cats, dogs, and fish for the past five years that it has caused the deaths of an unspecified number of them.

Her most telling revelation, however, is that the EHS left a cat in an unattended trap for so long last year that by the time its presence finally was either remembered or accidentally stumbled upon it had been reduced to a skeleton. Even more shockingly, the trap had been set and abandoned on the grounds of the shelter.

As of August 3rd her petition, which also calls for punitive action against shelter management and staffers alike, had collected four-thousand-seventy signatures. (See "Edmonton Humane Society -- Suspend the Chief Executive Officer and 'Cat Transport Incident' Staff Without Pay.")

The only known case on record even grislier than that one came to light on November 27, 2009 when the Ontario SPCA raided the facilities of the Toronto Humane Society (THS) and found the mummified remains of a cat in a crawl space between floors. Staffers had lured it into a baited trap and then knowingly left it to die a slow and agonizing death. (See the Toronto Star, November 28, 2009, "Humane Society: 'It Seems Like a House of Horrors'.")

As utterly reprehensible as the behavior of both the EHS and the THS has been, they by no means hold a monopoly on starving cats to death. For instance, the Valley Oak SPCA of Visalia, California, killed an unidentified gray cat in July of 2010 by callously abandoning it in one of its traps under sweltering conditions. (See Cat Defender post of August 23, 2010 entitled "The Valley Oak SPCA Kills a Cat by Allowing It to Languish in the Heat in an Unattended Trap for Five Days at the Tulare County Courthouse.")

It is somewhat difficult to believe that the EHS could be so cruel and ruthless but based upon the available evidence it is impossible to arrive at any other conclusion than that its abandonment of Lucky, Magic, and Chance was intentional. While it is certainly conceivable that if the drivers had arrived back at the shelter late and in the cold and darkness that they, being in a hellfire hurry in order to get home, could have temporarily forgotten about them while they were unloading their vehicle, but certainly not for twenty-three days.

Sooner or later they would have either remembered them or needed the vehicle and their cages. Likewise, those that were tasked with checking them in no doubt had their paperwork in hand and therefore could not possibly have overlooked their absence.

It additionally is a little bit more than curious that incidents of this sort never seen to involve dogs; au contraire, the victimized parties are invariably always cats. The conclusion therefore to be drawn from this and the 2017 incident is that starving cats to death in traps is an integral part of the EHS' management plan.

From its viewpoint, the advantages of such a diabolical strategy are far too numerous to pass up. First of all, since such fatalities are not included in its kill-rate, nobody is any the wiser as to what it is doing.

Secondly, such a policy frees up valuable cage space for more adoptable cats that the EHS is able to sell back to the public for between C$65 and C$270 per animal; dogs are an even more lucrative investment for it in that they sell for between C$110 and C$485. Thirdly, the shelter is able to save a small fortune on food, veterinary care, and adoption services by simply starving cats to death.

Even if the public is so naïve as to believe the EHS' cockeyed story that does not change a blessed thing. Management of the charity has proven itself to still be guilty of gross and inexcusable incompetence.

If Smitty and Caza had an ounce of either decency or professional responsibility in their malignant bones they would have fired the drivers and the intake personnel as soon as they learned of what had happened. Secondly, they would have been forthright with the CHS.

Thirdly, they would have made a clean chin of themselves with the public instead of attempting to cover up this tragedy. Fourthly, they would have tendered their resignations and apologized profusely for their disgraceful behavior.

Since none of that has happened, the onus falls squarely upon the shoulders of cat-lovers in Edmonton to hold them accountable. It is not about to happen in a million years, especially in a city as hopelessly corrupt as Edmonton, but everyone involved in this incident not only should lose their jobs but be arrested and charged with animal abandonment and cruelty.

Under absolutely no circumstances should anyone be shedding any tears for any of this crowd. First of all, they have been lining their pockets for years at the expense of the animals under their care and sans doute have accumulated some impressive sums.

Should their available plunder be insufficient for their needs, they can always follow Fawcett's example and claim that mistreating these helpless cats in such a hideous fashion has wreaked havoc with their delicate psychological health and that they accordingly are richly deserving of disability pensions. They might even be able to put their considerable experience to work for either the THS or the Valley Oak SPCA; such outfits are always looking for good (or is it bad?) help.

"Old soldiers never die; they just fade away," United States Army General Douglas MacArthur once observed but employees of shelters and Animal Control never do either. Rather they just move on from one of these wretched institutions to another all the while laughing all the way to the bank. As it is sometimes said on the street, "it is hard to kill a bad thing."

Most important of all, it is paramount that Lucky, Magic, and Chance be located and presented to the public. The services of an independent veterinarian then must be procured in order to properly evaluate their health.

Michelle Elfstedt Protesting Outside the Shelter on June 16th

All intake, transfer, and veterinary paperwork and photographs amassed by the EHS, CHS, and the GPRACF must be subpoenaed and carefully evaluated by outside veterinarians and other qualified individuals in an attempt to establish once and for all time that the cats did indeed survive their grueling ordeal and that the EHS is not lying. If the GPRACF had implanted microchips in them, that might very well settle the matter and preclude the possibility that the EHS is attempting to fob off ringers on the public. It is almost superfluous to point out but the cooperation of the cats' new owners is going to be crucial to the successful resolution of this mystery.

Given that they luckily had shelter and therefore were largely protected from the elements, procuring some kind of sustenance would have been their most pressing challenge. In that light it is doubtful that there were very many bugs out in the cold and it would have been difficult, but not impossible, for mice to have gained entrée into their would-be death chamber.

Provided that they were in reasonably good health to begin with, had been eating reasonably well, and therefore had built up reserves of fat, they just might have pulled through by the skin of their teeth. A lack of water could very well have doomed them, however.

It is conceivable that they were able to have survived on the condensation and ice that formed on the walls and bars of their cages. Otherwise they may have been reduced to drinking their own urine. Any way that their dire predicament is analyzed, it still would have been a miracle if they had survived.

Working in their favor is the fact that members of their species have a long and glorious history of making it through tight spots. For instance, during the summer of 2010 a six-month-old tortoiseshell named Mandarin somehow survived a thirty to forty-five day voyage from China to Calgary trapped inside a shipping crate.

"There may have been mice or things running around the enclosure," Desiree Arsenault of the CHS speculated at that time. "I can only guess." (See Cat Defender post of September 8, 2010 entitled "Mandarin Survives a Long and Harrowing Sea Voyage from China to Canada Only to Wind Up in Hock to the Calgary Humane Society.")

Cats are all alone in this world. They also are unable to speak up for themselves and they do not have families and friends in order to look after them.

As if all of that were not daunting enough, their enemies are multitudinous. Most dangerous of all are shelter personnel and Animal Control officers who are skillful, albeit unscrupulous, trappers.

On top of all of that, they are diminutive and their corpses are easily disposed of and disintegrate rapidly in warm weather. Their lot in life is accordingly even more precarious than that of the homeless whose plight John D. MacDonald summed up as follows in his 1982 novel, Cinnamon Skin:

"Transients flow back and forth across the country, and up and down the coasts. They are of little moment. They become the unidentified bones in abandoned orchards."

Looking ahead, there is little reason for optimism. More detailed and elaborate recordkeeping might be helpful but since it is dishonest and lying humans who are responsible for making the entries in the charts and logs that is problematic. For example, records maintained by the THS claimed that the mummified cat found on its premises had been adopted out, returned to the shelter, and then killed by staffers a year earlier in 2008.

Besides falsifying records, staffers also knew of the cat's plight and yet did absolutely nothing to relieve  it; instead, they allowed it to die a simply horrific death. The only positive thing that they did was to tip off investigators upon their arrival and even that long overdue act raises serious ethical questions of its own.

"But if someone knew a cat had been inadvertently trapped for months above the ceiling at the shelter, why did he wait until the Ontario SPCA raid to mention it?" Thomas Walkom, a columnist for the Toronto Star, pointed out to www.Animals24-7.com on April 25, 2010. (See "Toronto Humane Society Raided, Executives Arrested, by Ontario SPCA.")

Veterinary offices nowadays not only microchip cats but some of them also photograph and even video record them and that might be something worthwhile requiring of shelters and Animal Control officers. It also might be worth compelling those who work at such facilities to wear body cameras. As is the case with paperwork, however, photos and videos can be doctored and destroyed.

In the final analysis, it does not appear that it is going to be possible to reform shelters and Animal Control facilities in any significant fashion that is going to make much of a difference to cats. Attempting to convince politicians to, for once in their miserable lives, do the right thing by cats is likewise a total waste of time.

It is, after all, they who have created, maintain, and profit from the shelter system and its various components and they can hardly be expected to reform 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," eighteenth century Anglo-Irish politician Edmund Burke pointed out in a 1791 epistle. "They may be distressed in the midst of all their power, but they will never look to anything but power for their relief."

In so far as there is any ray of hope for cats, it is to be found in keeping them out of public shelters as well as the clutches of Animal Control officers and cops. (See The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 11, 2011, "Shelter Shock. Cats Can Get Sick from Stress. One Proposed Remedy? Keep Them Out.")

Instead, all resources should be redirected toward TNR, private sanctuaries, foster families, and adoption services. It also is imperative that owners for once start acting responsibly instead of abandoning, dumping, and electing to have their cats killed off by shelters and veterinarians. Most importantly of all, their right to exist needs to be enshrined in law and along with that an across the board ban on trapping, shooting, and other forms of abuse.

Krushell's whitewash is expected to be completed and made public later in the summer but that is of little consequence. The well-being of Lucky, Magic, and Chance along with all the other cats that fall into the hands of the EHS is, however, something well worth raising hell about and fighting for until the former are located and presented to the public for inspection and every one of the latter walks, as opposed to being carried in a black trash bag, out the front door and in perfect health.

Photos: the Edmonton Journal (the shelter), Global News (one of the EHS' vehicles and veterinary reports), Edmonton Humane Society (Smith), Know It, Live It (Krushell), and the CBC (Elfstedt).