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

Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

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

Thomas Has Had a Narrow Escape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas Is Reunited with Grace and Lea Stockham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shannon Jay Tinkering with One of His Traps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas Is Now Safe and Sound but for How Long?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 08, 2017

The Abduction, Brutal Slaying, and Diabolical Mutilation of Runa Leaves Her Owner Devastated and Strikes Fear into the Hearts of All Cat Lovers Living in a Small Town in Switzerland


"Wir denken alle immer an Runa. Das Schlimmste ist die Realisation, was passiert ist."
-- Jordana Rebmann

Runa was a beautiful, three-year-old, gray-colored Norwegian Forest Cat with a sprinkling of British Shorthair blood mixed in who liked to stay out nights roaming the streets of Oberrohrdorf, thirty kilometers northwest of Zurich in the canton on Aargau. What she did on those occasions is not known but since she, presumably, had been spayed, she most likely was either seeking the companionship of her fellow felines, raiding garbage cans or, perhaps, hunting mice.

As far as it is known, she previously had not encountered any difficulties but her good luck not only ran out once and for all time but in harrowing and chilling fashion during the early morning hours of Friday, November 17th when she was abducted and brutally murdered by an assailant who remains at large to this very day. Press reports have not specified how that she was killed, but it would appear that she was bludgeoned to death. She may even have been tortured over an extended period of time.

How all of that came about is likewise unknown. For instance, she could have been surprised by her assailant and clubbed over the head or, more likely, she was trapped and then killed. It is even possible that she could have been lured inside her killer's house by either an offer of food or because she already was acquainted with him.

If that had constituted the sum total of all that had occurred on that horrible November morning that would have been bad enough in its own right but that was hardly the case. Once her assailant had either snuffed out her life or, more likely, rendered her unconscious, he proceeded to chop off her head.

He, and this most assuredly was the act of a man, then afterwards transported her, most likely in either a cardboard box, plastic bag, or a sack, to the residence of fifty-nine-year-old Jordana Rebmann at Buacherstraße 6 where he hurriedly dumped both head and torso at the side of her house. His initial intention apparently had been to deposit the end product of his devilry on her doorstep but he was thwarted in that design when his presence was detected.

"Der Täter wurde vom Licht überrascht," Rebmann later theorized to Blick of Zurich on November 20th. (See "Angst vor dem Katzen-Köpfer.") "Genau dort erfasste ihn der Bewegungsmelder."

In order to have known that, Rebmann, her husband Jörg, and their two children most likely were already awake and preparing for work and school. Also, since the Rebmanns have not reported having heard either a slamming door or an engine starting up, that is a pretty good indication that the culprit was on foot.

It has not been explained why that the family failed to investigate what had activated their motion detectors. Perhaps they simply hoped that either whoever or whatever was on their front lawn would simply go away without attempting to break into their dwelling.

Regardless of either the exact sequence of events or the time of day, it was Jörg who made the gruesome discovery when he, apparently sometime later, ventured out of doors. Kneeling down in order to examine Runa's remains, he quickly discovered that her body not only was still warm but oozing blood as well and that can only mean that she had been killed fairly recently, perhaps within as short a time span as an hour or two.

It is painful to even contemplate the alternating states of shock, disbelief, horror, heartbreak, and fear that competed for dominance in Frau Rebmann's tortured soul once she had learned of what had been done to her beloved Runa. "Wir denken alle immer an Runa," she told the Aargauer Zeiting on November 20th. (See "Geköpfte Katze: 'Der Täter muss zurückgekommen sein'.") "Das Schlimmste ist die Realisation, was passiert ist."

In killing Runa, the culprit also took away whatever sense of security that Rebmann previously had enjoyed while living in her one-family house in a quiet neighborhood that is only a Katzensprung (about three-hundred-fifty meters) removed from the Gemeindehaus at Ringstraße 2. "Hier ist vorher noch nie etwas Schlimmes passiert. Kein Einbruch, kein Brand, kein Mord," she testified to Blick. "Und jetzt das. "Warum nur?"

Jordana Rebmann at the Spot Where Runa's Corpse Was Deposited

She accordingly was unwilling to admit that Runa's killer was one of her supposedly respectable and law-abiding neighbors. "Wir haben keine Feinde," she declared to Blick.

While that very well may have been previously true, her cat most definitely had made, for whatever reason, at least one mortal enemy in the neighborhood and that animus now extends to Rebmann and her family. Moreover, it certainly did not take very long for that realization to be driven home to her in unmistakable fashion.

That occurred the very next day, Saturday, November 18th, when she accidentally found Runa's collar lying in the hedge near her outdoor patio. "Wäre es am Freitag schon da gewesen, hätte ich es gesehen," she deduced to Blick. "Der Täter kam also noch einmal züruck."

Along about that same time, an unidentified next-door neighbor of hers found Runa's name tag but it has not been disclosed exactly where that discovery was made; most likely, it was found somewhere near the boundary line that separates their respective houses. Regardless of where it was found, it was promptly turned over to the Katonspolizei Aargau in Aarau, twenty-eight kilometers west of Oberrohrdorf.

Those twin discoveries ultimately proved to be every bit as frightening as they were chilling. First of all, they strongly imply that Runa's killer made at least two, and possibly three, separate trips to Rebmann's Gründstuck.

Secondly, given that Runa's collar was the type that can only be gotten off by cutting it in two, the mere fact that it was still intact means that it either fell off or was removed after she had been decapitated. Thirdly, assuming that the killer did not already know who that Runa belonged to, he doubtlessly obtained that piece of vital information from her name tag.

The implications of that revelation certainly were not lost on Rebmann. "Wer eine Katze so töten kann, ist ein gefährlicher Mensch," she declared to Blick. "Wir haben Angst."

Longtime Oberrohrdorfer Gemeindeammann Kurt Scherer, sixty-six, echoed those dire sentiments. "So etwas hat es bei uns noch nie gegeben," he told Blick on November 21st. (See "'So obscheulich, als würde man ein Kind misshandeln'.") "Das ist einfach nur brutal, was man Runa angetan hat. Das ist so abscheulich, als würde man ein Kind misshandeln."

Although those who have studied serial killers have noted that they often began their killing sprees by preying upon cats and other small animals, that is by no means always the case. In particular, numerous cat killers have been unmasked as inveterate cowards who would not so much as dare to attack a human. It therefore is far from clear if Rebmann and her family are in any imminent danger from Runa's killer.

Upon finding Runa's remains in her garden, Rebmann did the right thing by taking them to an unidentified veterinarian for a necropsy. "Er hat so etwas noch nie gesehen," she afterwards told Blick in the November 20th article cited supra.

Once the necropsy had been completed it revealed that Runa had sustained internal bleeding and multiple injuries before she had been decapitated. Up until then Rebmann had been clinging to the utterly absurd notion that Runa's killing had, somehow, been painless and quick. "Das stellte sich als trauriger Irrtum heraus," she finally was forced into acknowledging to Blick on November 28th. (See "Runa (drei Jahre alt) wurde erst verprügelt, dann geköpft!")

Philomena Füglistaler...

The stripping away of that last vestige of solace was sufficient in order to have had a deleterious effect upon both her physical and mental health. In particular, it caused her to have a nervous breakdown at the office where she works as a mechanical engineer and that in turn necessitated that she had to be driven home by a co-worker.

"Ich musste mich hinsetzen. Mir war übel, und ich hatte überhaupt keine Kraft mehr," she disclosed to Blick on November 28th. "Meine Gedanken drehen sich die ganze Zeit um diese grausame Tat."

It is even far worse for her whenever she is at home. "Seit der Nachricht (of the necropsy) wage ich mich fast nicht mehr in den Garten," she added to Blick. "Jedes Mal, wenn ich zur Grüngut-Tonne gehe oder eine Zigarette draussen rauche, habe ich ein ungutes Gefühl und schaue mich um, ob sich vielleicht jemand im Garten versteck."

As it is almost universally the case whenever a cat is murdered, absolutely nothing apparently is being done in order to apprehend Runa's killer. For instance, the only support that Rebmann and her family have received so far from the local political establishment has been a proverbial feast of insincere rhetoric.

"Wir haben bei uns in der Gemeinde die Regionalpolizei (Katonspolizei Aargau), und seit einiger Zeit patrouillieren die Alpha Security (of Kirchdorf, one-hundred-twenty-six kilometers southwest of Oberrohrdorf)," Scherer told Blick on November 21st. "Seither gab es so gut wie keine Zwischenfälle -- bis jetzt."

Whereas preventing future cat killings is certainly a worthy goal, Scherer's spiel tap dances around the more pressing issue of bringing Runa's killer to justice. The good-for-nothing Kantonspolizei Aargau likewise have been long on the palaver but awfully short on action.

"Es geht hier um eine Widerhandlung gegen das Tierschutzgesetz," was the sum total of all that the force's Rafael Geiser had to say to Blick on November 20th.

His fellow officer, Berhhard Graser, has been every bit as unforthcoming. "Das Ermittlungen laufen auf Hochtouren," was all that he relayed to Blick on November 28th.

As best as it could be determined, neither the Aargauischer Tierschutzverein in Untersiggenthal, twelve kilometers northwest of Oberrohrdorf, nor the Schweizerischen Tiermeldezentrale of Hergiswil, seventy-three kilometers south of Oberrohrdorf, have even so much as commented upon, let alone opened investigations, into Runa's brutal murder. They likewise have not offered any rewards for information that might lead to an arrest.

Although such expedients are almost always at best either pointless acts of beau geste or, at worst, dishonest fundraising tactics, they once in a blue moon do get results.  (See Cat Defender post of January 6, 2010 entitled "A Large Reward Fails to Lead to the Capture of the Archer Who Shot an Arrow Through Brownie's Head.")

It has been pointed out before but crimes committed against cats never will be solved unless the police and animal protection groups can, somehow, be prevailed upon to take them seriously and that entails, above all, a willingness to commit the money and manpower that their resolution deserve and require. Secondly, the same investigatory procedures and sound principles of forensic science that are used in order to solve other types of crimes must be applied in resolving those that are perpetrated against cats.

... and Photos of Her Four Missing, and Presumed Dead, Cats

For example, if the police and politicians merely ran off at the mouth every time that a citizen was either robbed or killed they not only never would solve a single case but nobody's property and life would be worth so much as a plugged nickel. Yet, that is precisely the balderdash that they so freely dole out to aggrieved owners every time that one of their cats is killed. Consequently, it is not the least bit surprising that these types of hideous crimes continue to proliferate.

In Runa's case, just about all of the pertinent rules of evidence gathering were systematically ignored. Most obviously, both her collar and name tag should have been dusted not only for fingerprints but other forensic evidence as well.

Evidence likewise should have been carefully collected from underneath her claws as well as her teeth. Unless her assailant was an especially proficient and skillful killer of cats, she likely was able to have gotten a piece of him and that DNA evidence could have been matched up to him directly or, if he has a previous criminal record, compared to other such data that has been logged into police databanks.

Although considerably less promising, her fur should have been thoroughly combed for additional evidence. For example, it could have contained microscopic particles from her assailant's person (hair), clothing, house, and the instruments that he used in order to beat her to death. Trained laboratory technicians then might have been able to have used that data in order to facilitate the making of an arrest.

Rebmann's garden also should have been treated as a crime scene and accordingly gone over with a fine-tooth comb in a search for footprints, blood, and other evidence. It is entirely conceivable that the killer could have left behind a faint trail of blood that led back to his house.

As far as it has been revealed, none of that was done and now it is, regrettably, too late for the derelict authorities to make amends. The evidence is gone and Runa's remains, in all probability, have been either buried, burned, or thrown out in the trash.

The only known lead to have surfaced so far has come courtesy from another unidentified next-door neighbor who claims to have seen a mysterious young man in the neighborhood on the evening of November 18th. When approached, he claimed to have been lost before quickly beating a hasty retreat.

That is not much to go on and it is hardly worth pursuing unless he should be spotted again in the neighborhood and is subsequently unable to provide a valid explanation for his presence. Generally speaking, however, the killing of Runa does not appear to have been a random act of violence perpetrated by someone from outside the area.

In that regard, the authorities actually have at their disposal considerably more to go on than they may realize. First of all, the perpetrator of this heinous crime is someone with a long-term, ingrained hatred of cats and that petit fait is verified by the fact that he endeavored to inflict as much punishment upon Runa as possible by beating her to death before decapitating her.

Secondly, he wanted so badly to make Rebmann and her family suffer that he twice risked capture by returning Runa's body and collar to her garden. He therefore is not only a ruthless and remorseless killer but a daring individual who fervently believes that he either will not be apprehended or, if so, not punished.

He is so dedicated to his cause that he is willing not only to stay up all night but out on the forlorn streets as well in order to commit his crimes. Finally, he travels on foot and that can only mean that, contrary to Rebmann's thinking, he is one of her neighbors. She possibly could even be acquainted with him.

Margrit Wasser and Arthur Ulrich with Photos of Ronny

Since it is not known where and how far Runa's nighttime rambles took her, it is impossible to say whether her assailant lives near Rebmann or several blocks removed. Nonetheless, it would be surprising if he does not reside within easy walking distance for both him and Runa.

Convincing cat owners that they live in a world chock-full of supremely evil people is a huge part of the problem when it comes to both safeguarding the lives of cats as well as apprehending those who abuse and kill them. That dilemma is further compounded by the fact that evil more often than not goes hand in hand with duplicity.

C'est-à-dire, most individuals in this world are not only Janus-faced but twenty-faced as well. Nobody accordingly really knows for sure the almost limitless array of simply god-awful and diabolical crimes that their seemingly respectable bourgeois neighbors are fully capable of committing against cats.

Much more to the point, when it comes to killing cats the reasons may vary but the perpetrators are almost always nearby neighbors. For instance, some of them will kill cats if they so much as come near their precious old jalopies. (See Cat Defender posts of June 22, 2006 and July 8, 2010 entitled, respectively, "A Used Car Dealer in Virginia Murders Sweet Three-Year-Old Carmen with a Rifle Shot to the Neck" and "A North Carolina State Trooper Who Illegally Trapped and Shot His Next-Door Neighbor's Cat, Rowdy, Is Now Crying for His Job Back.")

Others feel that they are entirely justified in killing, by any diabolical means at their disposal, any cat who so much as sets foot on their turf. (See Cat Defender posts of August 14, 2007, September 24, 2007, and June 30, 2011 entitled, respectively, "A Grieving Owner Seeks Justice for an Orange Tabby Named Bill That Was Hunted Down and Savagely Killed with a Bow and Arrow," "A California Man Who Slew His Neighbor's Cat, Bill, with a Bow and Arrow Is Sentenced to Three Years in Jail," and "No Cat Is Safe Any Longer in a New Hampshire Resort Town after a Local Court Sets Free Molly's Shotgun Murderer with a Trivial $200 Fine.")

Those that are either too lazy or cowardly in order to do their own dirty work can always, at least in America, rely upon the ever obliging police to act as their surrogates whenever they decide to get rid of their neighbors' cats. (See Cat Defender posts of March 31, 2008, September 16, 2009, September 22, 2011, September 27, 2014, and September 1, 2016 entitled, respectively, "A Cecil, Pennsylvania, Police Officer Summarily Executes a Family's Beloved Ten-Year-Old Persian, Elmo," "Acting Solely Upon the Lies of a Cat-Hater, the Raymore Police Pump Two Shotgun Blasts into the Head of Nineteen-Year-Old Declawed and Deaf Tobey," "The Neanderthaloid Politicians in Lebanon, Ohio, Wholeheartedly Sanction the Illegal and Cold-Blooded Murder of Haze by a Trigger-Happy Cop," "Falsely Branded as Being Rabid by a Cat-Hater, an Animal Control Officer, and the Gorham Police Department, Clark Is Hounded Down and Blasted with a Shotgun," and "The Legal and Political Establishment in a Small Pennsylvania Backwater Close Ranks and Pull Out All the Stops in Order to Save the Job and Liberty of the Bloodthirsty Cop Who Murdered Sugar.")

Some individuals even use their neighbors' cats for target practice. (See Cat Defender post of December 18, 2009 entitled "A Teenage Wino Who Gunned Down Her Neighbor's Cat, Trouble, with a Crossbow from Her Bedroom Window Cheats Justice.")

Gardeners are yet still another group of criminals who believe that they have a carte blanche right to steal and kill their neighbors' cats. (See Cat Defender posts of June 10, 2010, August 19, 2010, August 26, 2010, and March 13, 2012 entitled, respectively, "A Cat-Hating Gardener in Nordrhein Westfalen Is Told by the Local Authorities to Remove a Board of Nails from His Yard," "Music Lessons and Buggsey Are Murdered by a Cat-Hating Gardener and an Extermination Factory Posing as an Animal Shelter in Saginaw," "In Stark Contract to Ailurophobic America, Ziegelchen's Illegal Trapping by a Gardener in Altstädten-Burbach Is Roundly Condemned in Deutschland," and "The Sick Wife Defense Works Like a Charm for Cunning Patrick Doyle after He Traps a Cat and Then Shoots It with an Air Rifle While Still in Its Cage.")

Try as they may, none of those individuals and groups can hold so much as a candle to bird lovers. They are sans doute the most mendacious, cleverest, and sadistic killers of their neighbors' cats in this world. (See Cat Defender posts of June 15, 2006, March 9, 2007, October 30, 2006, October 30, 2007, November 16, 2007, and March 9, 2012 entitled, respectively, "A Serial Cat Killer on Long Island Traps His Neighbors' Cats and Then Gives Them to a Shelter to Exterminate," "A Long Island Serial Cat Killer Is Adjudicated Guilty of Only Disorderly Conduct, a Corrupt Court Rules," "A Collar Saves Turbo from Extermination after He Is Illegally Trapped by Bird-Loving Psychopaths," "A Crafty Bird Lover Claims Responsibility for Stealing Six Cats from a Southampton Neighborhood and Concealing Their Whereabouts," "Fletcher, One of the Cats Abducted from Bramley Crescent, Is Killed by a Motorist in Corhampton," and "An Amateur Ornithologist Guns Down Hartley with an Air Rifle, Feigns Remorse, and Then Cheats Justice by Begging and Lying.")

Ted "Slick Willie" Williams of the National Audubon Society is even so brazen as to have proposed that cats be poisoned out of existence with acetaminophen. (See Cat Defender post of May 18, 2013 entitled "Ted Williams and the National Audubon Society Issue a Call for Cats to Be Poisoned with Tylenol® and Then Try to Lie Out of It.")

Ronny Very Well Could Be the Killer's Next Victim

As of yet there is not so much as a shred of evidence linking any ornithologist, amateur or professional, to Runa's murder but the methodology and utter savagery of it most assuredly point in that direction. For example on December 13, 2010, seventy-four-year-old amateur ornithologist Ernst Bernhard K. from the Moosach section of München trapped his neighbor's cat, Rocco, and then proceeded to starve and torture him with water and pepper spray over an extended eleven-day period.

He finally finished him off when another neighbor accidentally tumbled to what he was doing but if she had not intervened it is entirely conceivable that he would have done to Rocco exactly what Runa's executioner did to her. (See Cat Defender posts of January 19, 2011, August 8, 2011, and August 17, 2011 entitled, respectively, "A Bird Lover in München Illegally Traps Rocco and Then Methodically Tortures Him to Death with Water and Pepper Spray over an Eleven-Day Period," "Ernst K.'s Trial for Kidnapping, Torturing, and Murdering Rocco Nears Its Climax in a München Courtroom," and "Ernst K. Walks Away Smelling Like a Rose as Both the Prosecutor and Judge Turn His Trial for Killing Rocco into a Lovefest for a Sadistic Cat Killer.")

If against all odds anyone in Oberrohrdorf should have even the tiniest bit of interest in bringing Runa's killer to justice, a good place to start would be by identifying all bird lovers living in Rebmann's neighborhood. That task might even be as simple as peering into gardens for the presence of bird houses and feeders.

Warrants then could be procured for extensive searches of the premises. If even so much as trace amounts of Runa's blood and fur were to be found, the police then would have her killer.

Such an undertaking would be, at the very least, most definitely worth a try. If the police cannot be prevailed upon to pursue such a lead, Rebmann then should seriously consider retaining the services of a private dick to act in their stead. (See Cat Defender post of April 2, 2015 entitled "A Cornishman Shells Out £10,000 on Private Peepers in Order to Track Down Farah 's Killer but Once Again Gets Stiffed by Both the Police and the RSPCA.")

Rebmann's confidence in the innocence of her neighbors is all the more baffling in light of the fact that there have been a number of unexplained disappearances of cats from the area in recent years. For example, four felines belonging to twenty-eight-year-old Philomena Füglistaler have mysteriously disappeared without so much as a trace during the past three years.

Specifically, eighteen-month-old Max vanished in 2014. Two-year-old Degerli likewise disappeared a year later. In 2017 alone, she lost one-year-old cats Loris and Charley. Their disappearances proved to be the last straw as far as she was concerned and she accordingly moved out of the area in October.

"Sie kamen einfach nicht mehr heim," she told Blick on November 21st. (See "'Wir haben keine ruhige Minute mehr!'") "Busi kriegt man ja legal."

Her last statement is an obscure reference to the fact that the Swiss make a mint by stealing and killing cats for their valuable pelts. (See The Independent of London, articles dated March 1, 2000 and April 25, 2008 and entitled, respectively, "Millions of Cats and Dogs 'Killed for Fur Coats'" and "Switzerland Finds a Way to Skin a Cat for the Fur Trade and High Fashion," Le Matin of Lausanne, articles dated September 13, 2007 and November 16, 2007 and entitled, respectively, "Bardot interpelle Calmy-Rey" and "Sur la piste des chats disparus," and Le Monde of Paris, November 9, 2007, "Disparition de chats en Haute-Savoie: soupçon d'une trafic vers la suisse.")

The Swiss also do a booming business by stealing cats and in turn selling them to vivisectors to torture to death. Perhaps most egregious of all, they also eat them. (See Blick articles dated August 3, 2008, August 10, 2008, and November 1, 2015 and entitled, respectively, "'Es ist sehr zartes Fleisch,'" "'Ich esse lieber Hunde als Katzen,'" and "Martin Bühlmann hat Katzen zum Fressen gern," France-Soir of Paris, August 6, 2008, "Suisse -- Le chat est au menu des Helvètes!," and Le Matin, August 4, 2008, "Toute l'Europe se moque des Suisses, mangeurs de chats.")

Mia and Monika Diebold

Given that Füglistaler's cats vanished into seemingly thin air, no one is able to say exactly what happened to them, but in Runa's case she most definitely was not killed for either her flesh, fur, or science. That does not necessarily mean, however, that their fates are unrelated.

Au contraire, all of them more than likely were killed by the same culprit. The only difference being that with Runa the killer wanted to make a far bolder and graphic display of his hatred for cats. That, too, would be in keeping with the modus operandi of ornithologists who usually are long-term, serial abusers and killers of cats whose crimes escalate in severity and scope the more emboldened that they become in their lawlessness and devilry.

Since there normally are not any songbirds out at night for cats to hunt even if they should be so inclined, that raises the suspicion that it was Runa's daytime activities that got her into trouble. Since Rebmann and her family allowed her to stay out all night, there is a good possibility that they also turned her loose to roam while they were away at work and school.

As a consequence, they had little or no idea what she was doing both day and night and under  almost any scenario that is a ready-made prescription for disaster. Compounding matters further, she was an extremely friendly cat.

"Sie war sehr zutraulich und verspielt," Rebmann told Blick in the November 20th article cited supra. "Man konnte sie leicht anlocken und streicheln."

She therefore could have unwittingly walked into the hands of her killer. Given that friendly and trusting cats are quite often victimized by miscreants, it is not a good idea to either socialize a cat too much or to allow it to accept food and milk from strangers.

Every bit as important, owners need to know who and what types of individuals and animals inhabit their neighborhoods. If their cats should choose to stray from their gardens, they likewise need to trail them in order to find out where that they are going and what they are doing.

Of late, some owners have begun outfitting their cats with expensive tracking collars and cameras but neither of them are of any benefit to their cats unless they are willing to act upon the data gleaned from them. (See Cat Defender posts of March 29, 2017 and June 11, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Archie Is Knowingly Allowed To Sleep Smack-Dab in the Middle of a Busy Thoroughfare by His Derelict Owners Who Are Contented with Merely Tracking His Movements by Satellite" and "Katzen-Kameras Are Not Only Cruel and Inhumane but Represent an Assault Upon Cats' Liberties and Privacy.")

Runa's killing not only has unnerved Rebmann and her family but her fellow cat owners in the neighborhood as well. For instance, when twelve-year-old Ronny recently stayed away from home for several days his owners, eighty-seven-year-old Arthur Ulrich and eighty-one-year-old Margrit Wasser, feared the worst.

"Wir haben jetzt keine ruhige Minute mehr!" Ulrich testified to Blick in the November 21st article cited supra. "Denn Ronny war schon mal vier Tag nicht heimgekehrt. Er kam dann wieder."

Runa Was Such a Beautiful Cat Who Had So Many Reasons to Live

Even so, the couple seems to be resigned to losing him to the sadistic killer that is running loose in their neighborhood. "Wir können ihn nicht drin behalten," Wasser added to Blick.

At least Ronny is said not to be a friendly cat and that just might be sufficient in order to save his life. Nevertheless, it must always be borne in mind that although ornithologists much prefer to slowly torture the life out of their victims, they are more than willing to settle for either shooting or poisoning them if they are unable to get their hands on them.

"Er ist erschreckend, was hier im Quartier passiert ist," forty-nine-year-old pediatric nurse Monika Diebold related to Blick on November 21st. "Man sollte ein Tier doch noch rauslassen können!"

While that would be ideal, she is playing Russian roulette with the life of her nine-year-old gray cat, Mia, if she continues to allow her to roam under the current circumstances. At the very least she should always supervise her rambles and keep her inside at night and during the day when she is away at work.

If they have not done so already, residents of the area might want to consider installing surveillance cameras outside their houses. If they ultimately should choose to do so, it is imperative that they purchase multiple cameras that take good quality photographs from multiple angles. Grainy, distant shots of fleeing suspects in hoods and hats are of little value.

On the other hand, good-quality cameras can be effective in identifying suspects. They do not, however, save feline lives.

For example, clever sixty-eight-year-old Larry Negard of 6008 Tracy Lane in Bossier City, Louisiana, was able to successfully get away with killing at least nine cats that belonged to his next-door neighbors, Randy and Patsy Hamilton, before they installed cameras. (See the Bossier Press-Tribune, March 4, 2016, "Bossier Man Jailed for Killing Neighbor's Cat.")

The most pressing issue at the moment facing residents of Oberrohrdorf is the identification and apprehension of Runa's killer. After that, nothing short of either life imprisonment or, law permitting, his execution will suffice.

"Die schrecklichen Bilder lassen mich nicht mehr los," Rebmann declared to Blick on November 20th and nothing, not even the arrest of Runa's killer, is likely to change that. She has been irreparably scarred for life.

Such a development nevertheless would expose this monster and, perhaps, even get him off the streets for a while and that unquestionably would save the lives of other cats that reside in the neighborhood. It will not bring Runa back, however. The damage has been done and she, sadly, is gone forever.

Photos: Jordana Rebmann (Runa), Beat Michel of Blick (Rebmann), and Ralph Dongli of Blick (Füglistaler, her missing cats, Wasser and Ulrich, Ronny, and Mia with Diebold).

Monday, November 20, 2017

Already Ten Years Overdue, the Indomitable Pilot Is Burned to Within an Inch of His Life by a Deadly California Wildfire but Nonetheless Is Still Able to Finally Make It Home in Time for This Thanksgiving

Pilot Lost His Whiskers in the Wildfire

"He's not ready to give up so neither am I. I will do what I can to help him."
-- Jennifer Leigh Thompson

The odds against a cat being reunited with his family after a ten-year separation must be at least a million to one. For one to have survived being severely burned in a deadly wildfire surely must be equally daunting.

As incredible as it may sound, a long-suffering and determined thirteen-year-old brown tom named Pilot from Santa Rosa has succeeded in pulling off both of those utterly amazing feats. Since he, regrettably, does not speak any language that humans are capable of comprehending, the best that can be done is to take the elliptical accounts and recollections of those who have known him, conduct an analysis of the circumstances, and then to sprinkle in liberal amounts of both logic and supposition in order to piece together the tapestry of his incredible story of survival and triumph over simply outrageous misfortune.

Like so many cats, Pilot was abandoned as a kitten. He most likely was either dumped at a shelter by his utterly worthless owner or arrested by Animal Control officers and then subsequently incarcerated.

In 2004, he got a tremendous break when he was adopted, presumably from a shelter, by Jennifer Leigh Thompson. Over the course of the following three years he, from all accounts, enjoyed a happy and contented life with her, her husband, and children.

"He was an indoor-outdoor cat that always came home every evening like clockwork," she wrote November 2nd on Go Fund Me. (See "Help with Pilot's Veterinary Care.") "He is a very special cat who loved my kids, loved to play in water, and followed us around like a dog."

One day in 2007, however, he failed to come home. "We were devastated," Thompson continued. "His disappearance was extremely traumatizing to us."

The loss of him was made all the more puzzling given that he not only was wearing a collar with a tag but microchipped as well. "We checked the shelters for months with no success," she informed The Sacramento Bee on November 3rd. (See "Cat Missing for Ten Years Survives Wine Country Fires -- and Will Be Reunited with His Family.")

Although it has not been disclosed what other efforts she undertook in order to locate Pilot, shelters were, quite obviously, the wrong places for her to have been looking for him. Also since she was then working in the veterinary field, touching bases with local practitioners would have been the second most logical place for her to have looked but that, too, would have been another cul-de-sac.

Since only shelters and veterinary offices possess the scanners that are required in order to decipher them, microchips are totally worthless unless lost cats are, one way or another, brought into one of those facilities. Almost as disturbing, it is far from clear if veterinarians and shelters are under any legal obligation to notify former owners whenever their long-lost cats turn up at their surgeries and houses of detention.

The Staff at PetCare Worked Hard to Save Pilot's Life

If not, the decision of whether or not to return such cats to their rightful owners is left to the sole discretion of their current guardians. For instance, Michael King voluntarily returned four-year-old Tabor to her owner, Ronald A. Buss of Portland, after an implanted microchip was found by staffers at Helena Veterinary Service. (See Cat Defender post of July 5, 2013 entitled "Tabor's Long and Winding Road Leads Her Back Home but Leaves Her with a Broken Heart.")

It was an entirely different story with an unidentified woman who somehow came into custody of Dan Bouchery's tuxedo Cookie in that she had to be pressured by the gendarmes into returning him after a veterinarian in Normandie, thanks to an implanted microchip, had definitely established who was his lawful owner. (See the Nice Matin, December 12, 2014, "Un chat disparu à Grasse, parcourt un millier kilomètre pour retrouver sa maîtresse en Normandie" and Cat Defender post of October 20, 2017 entitled "Beautiful and Noble Hamish McHamish Who Suffered Through Fourteen Years of Abject Neglect and Naked Exploitation Is Remembered as Cat of the Year for 2014.")

The most logical explanation in Pilot's case is that he was stolen by an individual who afterwards kept him confined indoors; otherwise, he surely would have returned home. That individual likewise was astute enough to have removed and gotten rid of his collar and tag.

Stealing a cat is not only a simply task to pull off but it constitutes an almost perfect crime. In England, for example, cat stealing has reached epidemic levels. (See the Burton Mail, September 5, 2017, "Swadlincote Vet Makes Plea to Cat Owners as Number of Thefts Continues (sic) to Soar.")

Furthermore, in those extremely rare cases when owners actually find out what has become of their cats it often is way too late for them not only to reclaim them but to even save their lives. (See Cat Defender post of February 8, 2017 entitled "The Long and Hopelessly Frustrating Search for the Kidnapped Mr. Cheeky Ends Tragically Underneath the Wheels of a Hit-and-Run Motorist.")

The only other explanation that readily comes to mind is that Pilot voluntarily left home due to a conflict with another cat or a dog. That is an expedient that some cats have been known to adopt, especially if they have been subjected to repeated bullying. Only Thompson knows if that were indeed the case but she has not publicly speculated one way or the other on what caused him to leave home.

Meanwhile at the Thompson household, new cats and dogs came and went and she and her family soon forgot all about Pilot. In 2007, they pulled up stakes and relocated to Longmont, fifty-three kilometers north of Denver, where she settled into the avocation as a pet sitter and dog walker.

A decade later and halfway across the country, the infamous Tubbs Fire broke out in Sonoma and surrounding counties in early October and in its wake it burned more than thirty-six-thousand acres of land, killed twenty-two individuals, and destroyed more than five-thousand buildings. In Santa Rosa alone, the fire inflicted an estimated US$1.2 billion in damage and that included the burning down of more than twenty-eight-hundred buildings. All totaled, a full five per cent of the city's housing stock went up in smoke.

Hundreds, if not indeed thousands, of cats were cruelly left behind to fend for themselves as their morally reprehensible owners hightailed it out of town in order to save their own miserable hides. (See The Press and Democrat of Santa Rosa, November 7, 2017, "Amid Sonoma County Wildfires, One Group Uses Social Media to Reunite Pets and Their Families.")

On All Hallows Eve, a miracle almost too incredible to believe occurred when an unidentified Good Samaritan came upon a famished and dehydrated cat that was stumbling along on four badly burned paws. His whiskers were gone and his ears had been burned to a crisp.

Although the poor cat looked to be more dead than alive, this truly wonderful and compassionate individual did not hesitate to transport him to the PetCare Veterinary Hospital at 2425 Mendocino Avenue where the staff consented to attempt to save his life. Press reports have not specified if the surgery voluntarily chose that course of action or if the Good Samaritan was required to pay up front for the cat's emergency care.

Pilot Was Put in an Elizabethan Collar

Be that as it may, the cat's paws were burned to the bone and that necessitated that the veterinarians had to sedate him in order to clean, medicate, and bandage them. Antibiotics, analgesics, an Elizabethan collar and, in all likelihood, intravenous fluids were administered to him.

While they were at it, they routinely scanned him for an implanted microchip and that is how that they belatedly learned that he at one time had been owned by Thompson. Inexcusably, she had not paid the administrator of the chip's database to maintain her current contract information on file and that in turn necessitated that the staff at Petcare had to track her down by telephone.

Some veterinarians and shelters are unwilling to go that extra mile for lost cats but those who do so are richly rewarded for their due diligence, especially if they should happen to be partial to unraveling incredible cat survival stories. (See Cat Defender posts of March 31, 2010 and August 26, 2015 entitled, respectively, "A Winnipeg Family Is Astounded by Tiger Lily's Miraculous Return after Having Been Believed Dead for Fourteen Years" 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.")

To say that the telephone call that Thompson received from PetCare came as shock would be a gross understatement. "I never in a million years imagined that we'd ever see him again," she swore to The Mercury News of San Jose on November 3rd. (See "Cat Missing Ten Years Is Found Burned but Alive in Wine Country Fires.") "It's amazing he survived all of that."

In particular, it is estimated that Pilot had been hobbling along on his own for at least two weeks after the fire. Not only was he in excruciating pain but he had almost nothing to either eat or drink during that period. Nevertheless, he was able to somehow and some way persevere for just long enough until the Good Samaritan entered and saved his life.

After Thompson had gotten over the initial shock that Pilot was indeed still alive, she was confronted with a litany of sobering and daunting dilemmas. Most importantly of all, did she want him back?

Secondly, how badly did she want him back? Specifically, was she willing to invest the enormous amounts of money, time, and care that were going to be required in order to make him well again?

Finally, even if she were willing to do all of that, how on earth was she going to be able to pull it off? After all, veterinary care is outrageously expensive and Longmont is twelve-hundred-thirty-eight kilometers east of Santa Rosa.

As far as it is known, Thompson never hesitated and instead listened only to the calling of her heart. "He's not ready to give up so neither am I. I will do what I can to help him," she promised November 2nd on Go Fund Me. "He's in really good spirits and gets excited and wants to be petted and loved the moment someone opens his cage door at the veterinary hospital."

In furtherance of that noble objective, she established the Go Fund Me page referred to supra which as of November 19th had raised US$4,288 from one-hundred-twenty-seven donors. That is a good start but it is hardly going to even begin to cover the cost of Pilot's long, tedious, and difficult recuperation.

Pilot and His Heavily Bandaged Paws at the Home of Thompson's Sister

For instance, he is going to require daily visits to a veterinarian for at least two months. During such visits he is going to have to be sedated so that his bandages can be changed and his paws medicated. No figures have been floated, but each of those visits is surely going to cost Thompson hundreds of dollars.

"It's been very difficult not being able to see him right away but the staff at PetCare has been amazing with keeping me updated and sending me photos," she informed The Sacramento Bee on November 3rd. "I can't wait to see him. I'm excited and my kids are excited!"

While she was finalizing plans to wing it to Santa Rosa so as to collect Pilot she received some encouraging news that made the agony of waiting a little bit easier to bear. "Pilot is really doing well!" she exclaimed November 4th on Go Fund Me. "He's getting transitioned onto oral medication now (from, presumably, being fed intravenously) which is a very positive thing. And he's gaining weight!"

The long awaited and much anticipated reunion with her long-lost cat finally came about on the evening of November 8th and nobody either inside or outside of Hollywood could have scripted the dénouement any better. "He was asleep when I walked into the hospital ward at PetCare and immediately raised his head and turned around when he heard my voice," Thompson disclosed November 9th on Go Fund Me. "I am overjoyed and the tears were flowing! I have no doubt that he remembers me."

Not a great deal is known about the recall capabilities of cats. They do, however, most definitely remember familiar smells and voices.

On the other hand, their personalities and behavioral characteristics seldom change over time regardless of how much adversity should befall them. Consequently, just because a long-lost cat still behaves as before does not necessarily prove that it still recognizes its former owner.

A day earlier Pilot had undergone surgery in order to have an unspecified number of his claws removed because they were said to have been interfering with the healing of his paws. Nevertheless, he was still well enough to have spent the following night with Thompson at her sister's house.

"Pilot slept in my bed with me last night. I finally felt some peace with this sweet boy next to me," she continued November 9th on Go Fund Me. "He is still such a snuggle bug. Ten years have not changed a thing."

The same thing could be said about Pilot's interim guardian, but doing so would not cast that individual in a positive light. First of all, it is difficult to comprehend how that anyone could be so callous as to run out on a cat that either he or she had sheltered and fed for, presumably, a decade.

Secondly, that individual did not even have enough concern to come forward and attempt to reclaim him even after his story and photograph had been splashed all over both mainstream and social media. Of course, it is remotely possible that the individual in question perished in the inferno but even that would not excuse family members from coming forward and doing the right thing.

Pilot Is Joyfully Reunited with Jennifer Leigh Thompson

Since it has not been disclosed either where Pilot was found or where Thompson previously resided in Santa Rosa, it is difficult to draw any conclusions. Nevertheless, it is entirely possible that it was precisely one of her neighbors who had stolen him and that he consequently had been living for the past decade only a few doors down the street from her old abode.

If the assumption that Pilot was stolen is correct, it is highly unlikely that his interim guardian ever will attempt to reclaim him. That would appear au premier coup d'oeil  to foreclose the possibility that Thompson and her family will be forced to go through a grueling and heart-wrenching custody battle.

Pilot flew home to Longmont with Thompson sometime last week. Although their itinerary has not been publicly divulged, their trip most likely originated with an automobile ride to the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, eleven kilometers northwest of Santa Rosa. From there, they took an approximately one-hour flight to San Francisco.

Following a ninety-minute layover they then took a two and one-half-hour flight to Denver. Upon arrival, they were forced into taking another trip by car to Longmont.

Even under normal circumstances such a journey would have been quite an ordeal but having a sick cat along must have made for quite a trying experience for Thompson. They did luck out on the last leg of their journey in that the plane was not crowded.

In fact, they had an entire row of seats to themselves and the stewardess graciously consented to allow Pilot to occupy one of the empty seats alongside Thompson as opposed to flying on the floor. She thus was able to communicate with him and to monitor his condition en route. Given that he must be sedated on a daily basis in order to have his bandages changed, hopefully he was able to have made the trip without having any additional potentially harmful narcotics pumped into his system.

As far as it is known, they did not have to contend with any soaks or other miscreants during their trip. Overall, he "traveled pretty well for the most part," Thompson wrote November 16th on Go Fund Me.

Once they finally arrived home, Pilot was reunited with Thompson's now eighteen-year-old daughter who had loved him so much that she had experienced nightmares when he disappeared all those years ago. Not surprisingly, their meeting proved to be every bit as emotional as had been Thompson's with him a few days earlier.

"She came in the room and he started chirping away (he has this little chirp that he does) when he saw her and she started talking," Thompson disclosed on Go Fund Me. "It was pretty amazing. They've been hanging out now as much as possible."

Pilot's amazing odyssey that has taken him from being missing and presumed dead all the way back to the present and the world of the living also has made it possible for the fissures in the heart of Thompson's daughter to finally heal. "This is what means the most to me. Our cat is here," Thompson continued on Go Fund Me. "He is healing. We are doing whatever we can to help him heal. And he and my daughter are happy."

Pilot with Thompson's Admiring Eighteen-Year-Old Daughter

Should he somehow be able to make it through the dark days and weeks that lie ahead, Pilot might even discover that he likes Longmont a good deal more than he did Santa Rosa. To its credit, the town does boast such outstanding citizens as the now retired Mike McCarthy of Golden Van Lines who not only tracked down the owners of a lost four-year-old, longhaired cat named Neo in October of 2006 but also put him on a plane back to his home in Crowley. (See Cat Defender post of November 6, 2006 entitled "Trapped in a Moving Van for Five Days, Texas Cat Named Neo Is Finally Freed in Colorado.")

Now that he has left Santa Rosa, Pilot's continued care has been handed off to James K. Skelly of the Foxtail Pines Veterinary Hospital in Erie, seventeen kilometers south of Longmont. While there is not any reason to question his competency, he nonetheless is a graduate of PennVet in Philadelphia and his father even worked at the surgery.

The problem with PennVet and by extension its parent, the University of Pennsylvania, is that the both of them are staffed almost exclusively with bloodsucking capitalists who do not possess so much as a scintilla of respect for the sanctity of animal life. For example around Christmastime in 2013, staffers at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital steadfastly refused to treat a cat that accidentally had swallowed a piece of ribbon because its owner was unable to come up with the thousands of dollars that they had demanded in advance.

They instead elected to kill it on the spot. That was in spite of the fact that the University of Pennsylvania boasts an endowment in the billions.

Furthermore, the practitioners at Ryan experiment on and torture to death countless cats, dogs, and other small animals each year during the course of their utterly worthless experiments. The same sort of atrocities are carried out at PennVet's satellite campus, the New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, where its veterinarians line their pockets by pimping and whoring for meat, egg, and milk producers, the horse racing industry, and other serial abusers and killers of large animals.

Not surprisingly, the animal research laboratories on both campuses also do not even comply with the minimalist standards of animal care as mandated by the already as weak-as-water Animal Welfare Act of 1966. (See Cat Defender post of March 19, 2014 entitled "Cheap and Greedy Moral Degenerates at PennVet Extend Their Warmest Christmas Greetings to an Impecunious, but Preeminently Treatable, Cat Via a Jab of Sodium Pentobarbital.")

It accordingly would be extremely unwise for Thompson to count on Skelly to either extend her any credit or to give her any discounts. Much more to the point, anyone even remotely affiliated with either PennVet or the University of Pennsylvania should be avoided like the plague, let alone subsidized in the commission of their wholesale crimes against cats and other animals.

Looking ahead, the burns to Pilot's paws and ears should heal in time although he may require skin grafts in order to complete those processes. The real menace to his health are the drugs that he is being given in order to sedate him and that is a major problem considering his advanced years. In particular, sedatives can cause renal and hepatic failure as well as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), the latter of which does not always show up on blood tests.

Some people claim to have had a measure of success using such natural sedatives as Feliway® and Rescue Remedy® but it is doubtful that either of them would be potent enough in Pilot's case. At the very least, only the tiniest doses of tranquilizers should be used, his heart rate continuously monitored, and oxygen provided if needed whenever his bandages are changed.

Pilot Asleep at Home but He Has a Long Road to Recovery Ahead of Him

It might even be possible to combine smaller doses with some sort of physical restraints. After all, a screaming, scratching, and biting cat is far preferable to a dead one.

It thus would appear that the best that can be hoped for is that his paws will soon heal to the point that his bandages can be changed less frequently. Until that day arrives, Skelly and Thompson are going to be walking a tightrope, hoping against hope that his paws heal before the tranquilizers kill him.

The roll call of honor in making Pilot's deliverance a reality includes first and foremost the Good Samaritan who, true to the fraternity, has refused both all acknowledgement and thanks. The dedicated staffers at PetCare likewise are to be commended for their steadfastness and veterinary skill.

Last but certainly not least, it is the lovers of the species who have so generously opened up both their hearts and wallets that are making Pilot's recovery a reality. "I want to say thank you to every single person who has donated to us," Thompson wrote November 4th on Go Fund Me. "My family is beyond grateful and I am truly humbled by the outpouring of love and generosity."

They certainly have their share of detractors, but there are not any people quite like cat lovers. "When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction," Mark Twain once observed and the outpouring of support that Pilot has received proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that many individuals still feel that same way today.

The final chapter is yet to be written, but to have lived an altogether different existence for a decade, to have survived the Tubbs Fire, and now to have been reunited with Thompson and her family is quite an accomplishment for any cat. Without the implanted microchip, however, PetCare would not have treated him unless someone else had agreed to pick up his veterinary tab, Thompson and her family would have remained forever in the dark as to what had become of him, and his incredible story of courage and survival never would have come to light.

Although microchips are totally worthless when it comes to protecting cats from humans and animals that are intent upon doing them harm, they nonetheless, like DNA analysis, are rewriting history. It therefore is precisely because they have so revolutionized the almost hopeless task of finding long-lost cats that aggrieved owners never should give up hope. As Pilot and thousands of other cats already have proven, many cats that have been presumed long dead have instead gone on to live other, often lengthy, lives.

For Thompson, being reunited with Pilot has been somewhat bittersweet. "Although I am sad we lost so much time with him," she lamented November 16th on Go Fund Me. "I am grateful for the time we have left. We will cherish every single moment."

Thanksgiving, which is only a few days away, is bound to be not only special but totally unforgettable this year at the Thompson house in Longmont and with that in mind it is appropriate to express two wishes. The first of which is that for Pilot to have a speedy and successful recovery that is followed by many more happy and joyous years.

Secondly given that mulligans usually are only doled out on the golf course, it can only be hoped that Thompson and her family fully appreciate what a tremendous gift that they have been given and that they will endeavor to make good on their pledges to Pilot by loving, cherishing, and honoring him for every minute of every day that he has left upon this earth. Carpe diem!

Photos: PetCare (Pilot with singed whiskers, the vets, and in an Elizabethan collar) and Go Fund Me (Pilot's bandaged paws, with Thompson, with her daughter, and asleep at home).

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Forest Is Rescued from High Atop a Dead Cherry Tree in an Exceedingly Rare Display of Ailurophilia on the Part of an American Firefighter

Forest Was Stranded Forty-Five Feet Above Ground

"You know what they say: that nobody's ever seen a cat skeleton in a tree."
-- Firefighter Chris Snedaker

Forest was in dire straits. The handsome white tom of undetermined age had been chased, most likely by a dog, forty-five feet up a dead cherry tree.

Given that he had been marooned there for somewhere between one and two weeks without either food or water his strength sans doute was rapidly ebbing and he surely would not have been able to have held on for much longer. By that time it is even doubtful that he still possessed the physical reserves that he would have required in order to have inched his way back down the tree even if he had had the savior-faire to have negotiated such a delicate maneuver.

As if all of that were not daunting enough, a thunderstorm was fast approaching. Luckily for him, his desperate plight belatedly came to the attention of an unidentified Good Samaritan of North Beaver Township, seventy-nine kilometers northwest of Pittsburgh and thirty-nine kilometers southeast of Youngstown, on March 30th who either walked or drove to the North Beaver Township Volunteer Fire Department at 969 Mount Jackson Road in neighboring New Castle in order to procure assistance for him.

Assistant Fire Chief Chris Snedaker and Lieutenant Tyler Claypool then immediately drove almost two kilometers to Reed Road alongside Hickory Creek where they propped a twenty-five-foot ladder against the tree and from there attempted to coax Forest into a plastic milk crate that they were dangling in front of him on a pike pole. He was too frightened to have availed himself of their entreaties, however, and they soon were forced to abandon the rescue effort due to circumstances beyond their control.

"We tried to get him down," Snedaker later told the New Castle News on April 8th. (See "Cat Saved by Firefighters in Need of Home.") "There was a lot of lightning by that time. We had to give up."

Normally, that would have been the end of the matter and Forest's fate would have been left to the gods to decide. Claypool is one firefighter who takes his responsibilities seriously, however, and he returned to the tree once the storm had passed. Mercifully, Forest somehow had managed to survive all the wind, rain, thunder, and lightning without being either electrocuted or hurled to his death below and as a consequence he was still precariously clinging to that dead tree limb.

Far from spending the interlude at the fire station playing cards and schmoozing with the other volunteers, Claypool had been busily improvising another rescue plan. This time around he accordingly brought with him a golf ball that he had drilled a small hole through the center and it was through that aperture he painstakingly threaded fishing tackle. He next threw the line over a branch near Forest.

He then attached a milk crate to the line and hoisted it up the tree to Forest. Apparently having had more than enough of both nasty thunderstorms and going without food and water, he willingly jumped into the crate without having to be coaxed and promptly was lowered to terra firma.

Morris with Tyler Claypool while Chris Snedaker Holds a Milk Crate

Other than being hungry, thirsty, and soaked to the bone, Forest came away from his long and trying ordeal in, apparently, excellent shape. Claypool soon remedied his latter condition by dropping him off at the fire station so that he could dry out while he continued on to a nearby Walmart in order to purchase some food, treats, litter, and other feline accessories for him.

"I thought it (firemen rescuing cats from trees) was a myth, but I guess it happens," Snedaker later opined to the New Castle News.

The reason that he would think such a thing is that fire departments all across the United States almost universally refuse to rescue cats that have become stranded in trees, on electrical lines, and at other high elevations. For example on February 9, 2007, firemen in the Louisville suburb of New Albany, Indiana, categorically refused to save a cat named Stinky that had been trapped on a roof for three days.

That in turn necessitated the intercession of concerned citizens Christopher and David Drake who, à la Claypool, threaded a rope through a section of PVC pipe and used that in order to safely bring down Stinky. (See Cat Defender post of February 20, 2007 entitled "A Stray Cat Ignominiously Named Stinky Is Rescued from a Rooftop by Good Samaritans After the Fire Department Refuses to Help.")

The same deplorable situation prevailed at the public library in Augusta, Georgia, on February 28, 2008 when a gray and white cat became stuck up a tree. The local fire department at first demurred by claiming that it was scared to death of cats and even when it finally did show up it brought along with it a ladder that was way too short in order to do the job.

A pair of employees from the library finally brought down the cat by shaking it from its perch into an awaiting bedsheet. (See WJBF-TV of Augusta, February 28, 2008, "Cat Stuck in a Tree -- Call the Fire Department!")

As Susan Manor in Asbury Park, New Jersey, a kitten became stranded up a tree on March 5, 2008 and, once again, the local fire department refused to lift so much as a lousy finger in order to save it. That in turn necessitated the timely intercession of the Department of Public Works. ( See the Asbury Park Press, March 8, 2008, "Public Works Department to the Rescue for Stuck Kitten.")

Later on February 11, 2009, a nameless brown cat was discovered on a six-story concrete pillar of the East Freeway in Houston but the local fire department refused to intervene. Luckily for it, the SPCA came to its rescue but even it did not show up until a day later. (See Cat Defender post of February 21, 2009 entitled "Daring Rescue in the Sky Spares the Life of a Cat Dumped on an Overpass in Houston.")

Danny  Leboff Hands over Roscoe to a Forever Grateful Sandy D. Valenti

Not contented with displaying his abysmal ignorance of the number of cats that are chased up trees every day by vicious dogs, Snedaker had at least one more bit of sottise left in his arsenal of mindless blatherings and he wasted no time in putting it to good use. "You know what they say: that nobody's ever seen a cat skeleton in a tree," he sneered to the New Castle News.

First of all, in that he harbors such an abhorrent attitude in his bosom it is somewhat surprising that he even attempted to save Forest's life in the first place. Secondly, the obvious reason that there are not any feline skeletons in trees is that stranded cats either plunge to their deaths, are preyed upon by opportunistic and bloodthirsty birds, or succumb to electrocution. (See The Mirror of London, June 4, 2009, "Crows Attack Cat Stuck Seventy Feet Up Tree.")

For example on January 22, 2008, a cat that had been trapped atop a telephone pole for four days in Stevinson, California, succumbed to hypothermia and plunged to its death on the ground. The Merced County Fire Department had refused to intervene by ludicrously claiming that it did not even own so much as either a ladder or a cherry picker. (See The Modesto Bee, January 24, 2008, "Really Tough Getting Help for Cat Stuck Up Pole.")

Furthermore, it is not merely the lives of cats that firefighters are endangering when they adamantly refuse to do their duty but those of humans as well. For instance on February 27, 2008, twenty-seven-year-old Scott Buehler of Orange, California, plunged forty feet to his death while attempting to save the life of a cat that had been stranded for two days up a fifty-foot Cypress.

In the immediate aftermath of this totally preventable tragedy, Captain Ian McDonald of the Orange Fire Department was spouting the same self-serving nonsense as Snedaker. "When cats get hungry, they typically come back down," he gassed to The Orange County Register of Anaheim on February 28, 2008. (See "Man Who Died Trying to Help Cat Was Experienced Climber.") "Also, laddering a tree has a level of risk involved. Knowing that the cat will come down, we don't take unnecessary risks."

That is pure baloney in that not only are all cats different but circumstances vary tremendously as well. Accordingly, neither McDonald nor any other fireman can conceivably know beforehand if a cat is going to be able to get safely down from a height.

What he, Snedaker, and others are really saying is that the lives of cats are of such little consequence that they are  unworthy of being saved. Moreover, it is pure balderdash for any of them to claim that rescuing a cat from a tree is more dangerous than either entering burning buildings or dealing with gas and other types of explosions.

The Americans' callousness and intransigence on this issue stand in stark contrast to the compassion and willingness to be of assistance of their English counterparts who never have been known to refuse to come to the assistance of a cat stranded in either a tree or at some other location high above ground. (See Cat Defender post of March 20, 2008 entitled "Bone-Lazy, Mendacious Firefighters Are Costing the Lives of Both Cats and Humans by Refusing to Do Their Duty.")

Where Are You Now, Forest?

The track record of American firefighters when it comes to cats is not all bad in that many of them routinely risk their lives by reentering burning buildings in order to bring them out alive. For instance on September 9, 2008, Al Machado of New Bedford, Massachusetts, not only pulled to safety a three-year-old Angora named Kiki but gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as well. (See Cat Defender post of September 29, 2008 entitled "Kiki Is Healthy Again but in Legal Limbo as Her Rescuer, Firefighter Al Macado, Basks in the Glory of His Heroics.")

Plus, numerous fire departments recently have purchased pet oxygen masks and that development already has saved the lives of innumerable cats.Their surprising willingness to come to the aid of feline fire victims makes their intransigence in regard to those that become stranded in trees all the more difficult to justify.

Firefighters also go out of their way in order to save the lives of cats that have been cruelly abandoned by their owners during wildfires. For example, Ralph Rhodes of Eugene, Oregon, not only saved the life of a cat named Monty Burns that he found in Middletown, California, but he also transported him to the Wasson Memorial Veterinary Clinic in Lakeport for emergency treatment. (See Cat Defender post of October 14, 2015 entitled "Because a Compassionate Firefighter from Oregon Chose to Care When His California Guardians Could Not Be Bothered with Doing So, Monty Burns Is Able to Escape the Valley Fire with His Life.")

Shortly before that on May 10, 2015, firefighter Danny Leboff of Oceanside, a hamlet within the town of Hempstead on Long Island and located forty-eight kilometers east of Manhattan, climbed down into a ten-foot-deep dry well in order to save the life of Sandy D. Valenti's cat, Roscoe. He had missing for two weeks and is presumed to have spent that entire period trapped in the well.

Rather than turning a cold shoulder to cats in distress, Fire Chief John Madden takes considerable pride in saving them. "It feels good when you bring them back to their owners," he declared to the New York Post on May 11, 2015. (See "Firefighters Save Cat from Well.")

Despite the stellar work of Claypool and others, it is precisely the reprehensible attitude that they have against rescuing cats stranded in trees and on power lines that is the number one black mark against American firefighters. Unless they can somehow be prevailed upon to amend their thinking on this issue, tree surgeons, utility companies, and selfless acts on the part of private citizens are destined to remain as the only viable alternatives that owners and those who care about cats have when it comes to rescuing them.

As for Forest, it is a mystery as to what has become of him. Claypool and his fellow firefighters told the New Castle News that they would like to keep him but were unable to do so because not only is the fire station located on a busy highway but it is frequently rented out for community events. As a consequence, they claimed to be in the process of searching for a new home for him.

Earlier on April 3rd, the firefighters posted a similar notice on the station's Facebook page but, inexplicably, there have not been any subsequent references to him on it or in the press. If Forest were still alive, in good health, and residing in a new home, it stands to reason that they would want the world to share in that good news.

Almost anything is possible with cats but the firemen's reticence regarding Forest is, at the very least, a disturbing and ominous development. Otherwise, this story would have had an unqualified happy ending.

Photos: Facebook (Forest up a tree and by himself), Mary Grzebieniak of the New Castle News (Forest with Claypool and Snedaker), and Bill Bennett of the New York Post (Leboff handing over Roscoe to Valenti).