Last Hope Cat Kingdom:
As far as I know this shelter refuses no cat. I brought in an old, decrepit neighborhood tom recently that had three legs already in the grave and I left a significant donation for his care. He had about half of all the diseases cats can get, or so it seemed. He was graciously accepted. I had some kind of weird relationship with this particular tom, out of all the other abandon and dying toms in my neighborhood. Even though I couldn't care for him (I'd already rescued two under a lease which expressly stipulated that I have NONE) I still felt bad leaving him at Renate's. I wanted her to understand that this cat was special, so I told her that exactly. She turned and looked at me and said matter of factly, "They're ALL special." Then I felt much better.
On 6-26-2013 the Last Hope Cat Kingdom was "raided" by the Humane Society, accompanied by numerous veterinarians and other "helpers". Had someone not been at this shelter only weeks before, photographing their animals, I might have had a tendency to take the news reports with a grain (pound) of salt, certainly, but still at more or less face value, knowing nothing to the contrary. But someone WAS at this shelter shortly before the raid. And I've seen these raids before. Sometimes they're completely necessary to save animals that are being abused. Sometimes they're the result of overreaction by supposedly well-meaning people who have a way of hyperventilating themselves into a nearly-hysterical frenzy, usually instigated by one or two high-profile (read: obnoxious) "social butterfly type" locals who may have something to gain and/or a grudge to settle. In my experience about two thirds of these raids are justified and one third are done with ulterior motives. People and governments can be stupefyingly petty and often are. What's the case here? I don't yet know, but I have strong suspicions.
Before I rant I want to make a few things clear:
The photoshoot at this shelter purposefully focused on the sickest animals, the reasoning being that those were the animals that would garner the most sympathy from the public and hopefully generate the most revenue in the form of donations or adoptions or volunteers. When major International human-rights charities produce television commercials or documentaries begging for charity funds & donations they don't focus on all the healthy, happy children living in split-tri-level homes in that African nation's affluent suburbs; they focus on the children who most need help, often showing the bruised and filthy little specimens eating out of the local dump and drinking out of sewer ditches. The photographer focused on the animals at the Last Hope Cat Kingdom who most needed help. I'm assured that if any agency (or person) tries to use these photos as examples of the baseline for cats at this rescue, the photographer will shut them down so fast it'll make their dizzy heads spin even faster. That's the surest and quickest way to find someone in front of your office or home with a sandwich board branding you as a liar. Do not ever misrepresent someone's work. You don't want this photographer (or me) as an enemy, I promise. My research and First Amendment skills are legendary and that is a fact.
Second: The photographer saw NO dead animals at that time and he was given free-run of the entire grounds.
Third: Every competent and worldly vet will agree that respiratory afflictions are the scourge of ALL (read: ALL) shelters and are virtually impossible to eradicate. The photographer saw many rooms and enclosures at LHCK that were being used to isolate sick animals. The old gray tomcat I had previously brought in was in isolation there. I'm informed that some sick animals were isolated from healthy animals by only screens. Ok, why wasn't this pointed out on ANY of the many visits the Humane Society made to the shelter in years and even weeks previous to the raid, in which they proclaimed, for the record, that they found "no problems"? Seriously, this isn't a rhetorical question. I'll ask it here and I have no doubt Renate's attorney (Ralph Temple of Merced) will ask it as well. Will the Humane Society now fake-up some documents that say they did this? I can't say if they will or not, but I can say I have personally witnessed this kind of behavior from other animal control districts. For some reason that I cannot explain, animal control workers can be some of the most sneaky and dishonest people in government. It's an enigma.
Fourth: Many, or most, or nearly all of the felines brought to LHCK had three paws in the grave when they arrived. Many (or most) were dumped there in the middle of the night by the Central Valley's "fine citizens", just as every humane society center finds sick and dying animals abandon at their doorstep almost every morning, the difference being that the Humane Society KILLS THEM so you never see the worst cases. Dumping sick animals in the night is what low-class human beings DO -- in some regions and among some ethnicities more than others. If Humane Societies were no-kill shelters they'd have the exact-same problems as Last Hope Cat Kingdom and I venture to say that some wouldn't handle those problems as well as LHCK did. If, say, Mercy hospital simply euthanised 50% of their human patients starting with the sickest, they could report amazing cure rates and they'd have the statistically healthiest patients on earth with little ugliness or suffering to see or deal with. Like the Humane Society.
I lived for a long time on the Navaho reservation in New Mexico where the "wealth" of any tribal member is calculated by the number of animals they own or can "speak for", regardless of their condition. If they are "technically" alive, then they count as a unit of wealth. I drove 35 miles each way through the rez on highway #666 every day for years. I never saw less than half a dozen dead or dying dogs and sometimes as many as two dozen on each trip and the faces changed every day. I saw dead and dying horses along the road weekly, along with sheep and goats and pigs. These were counted as a unit of wealth by the indigenous population, literally until the moment of their death. (i.e. I "own" 24 head of horses; 16 might be dead by morning and the rest should be put down, but I own them at this moment and that's how much wealth I have). No agency ever, ever tried to halt this madness.
I would find dead Navajos (humans) along the highway about four or five times per year. There was "a number" you were supposed to call when you found these people, and a "service" would truck on out there to pick them up. Usually it was because they had become intoxicated and passed out, and they died either in the heat, or the cold, or were run over by cars. Semi trucks very routinely squashed them at local truck stops because the Navajos would crawl up under the idling diesels at night to get warm in the winter (I saw minus 59f there at 8900 feet elevation); the trucker would pull out next morning, feel a slight bump, and may or may not even stop to check it out. I suppose some of the bodies were frozen solid by then anyway and merely shattered to pieces but some were killed by the tires at that moment, still soft and alive when it happened. There are truck drivers today, maybe dozens of them, maybe hundreds, who never knew they had killed someone in that manner. I remember once I found a body lying next to a stop sign on the way into work one morning. Weather was mild. Once at work I called the service and reported it. Ten hours later, on the way home, it was still there and the birds were arriving. I didn't bother to call the number a second time. I didn't bother to call the number ever again when I found dead people because that's simply how the region was. Message: Human beings in many regions of THIS COUNTRY are being treated worse than animals. Please feel free to go clean up that mess before trashing the character of Renate Schmitz who tried harder than you, and at the very least, largely succeeded.
Fifth: At LHCK there was food and fresh, clean water literally everywhere. No animal wanted for fresh, clean food or fresh, clean water. It is true that rhinotracheitis and calici virus affect cats' appetites and that was certainly the case at LHCK, and I think that caused much of their poor-appearing condition. There was photographic evidence of in-process, or on-going, or recently-done cleaning and bleach sterilizing everywhere. It was everywhere. Isn't it odd how so many people will lament and bemoan the condition of animals in an environment where people are TRYING to care for them and help them, yet will do not one single G*ddamned thing THEMSELVES to help out. How many of the multitudes griping about the LHCK today never donated a penny or a minute of their time. Those people are not qualified to comment. America is becoming a nation of lazy, spoiled, stupid, irrational bitchers. People complain about the condition of some cats at a shelter, yet steadfastly refuse to help alleviate it, and their only solution, then, is to take the lives of those animals they refused to help. Good job, folks. That's logic, isn't it?
In Alaska, sled dogs are used extensively, not as curiosities and trinkets for yuppies but as real, working dogs, actual members of the family, who support a family's hunting and general travel. They're extremely well cared for and are kept in top athletic conditions at all times -- at least 95% of them are, because a family may actually die if their dogs aren't in great condition, ready and available and willing to take on the tundra at any hour of day or night. I remember years ago a gaggle of Hollywood movie types made a trek to the interior, a bit west of Fairbanks, and said they were appalled at the condition of the local sled dogs. --Because, of course, by comparison their suburban dogs were obese and worthless from any athletic standpoint and in anything but top condition, even though they "looked" good to the unpracticed yuppy eye, the Hollywood yuppies being, themselves, obese and unfit for any athletic purpose and in anything but top condition. The Hollywood people ranted and raved but finally left, to the profound relief of the village, which was about ready to feed the movie stars to the dogs, though I doubt the dogs would have found their greasy cocaine-riddled fat-rolls very palatable. From L.A. a few weeks later they arranged for the delivery of an entire cargo-plane load of "good" and "nutritious" dog food, thinking, of course, that they were "saving" all these dogs, and the plane did land and dumped off all this great stuff -- tens of thousands of pounds of it -- and it eventually rotted on the runway because the dogs wouldn't eat it. THE WILD CRITTERS WOULDN'T EVEN EAT IT! And the Hollyweird imbeciles mostly shut their smarmy mouths. It seems the salmon the dogs had been raised on was about a thousand times more nutritious and tasty than the crap offered up by the Hollywood herd. Point? The point is that "experts" are not always experts and "saviors" are not always saviors, even though they are SURE that they are and they'll bowl you over with their arrogant, in-your-face insistence.
I read that over 70 dead animals were found at Renate's shelter. I have to believe that number is true. I might have a problem with that but I don't yet know because the local news reporting has been, as usual, so incredibly poorly done and incomplete that none of us has the facts. In a perfect world, every single dead animal should be removed and buried properly, as immediately after death as possible. I would have done it personally, had I received the call to do so. I would have cried while I did it, but I would have done it. I do not know why it wasn't done, if it wasn't done. I am hoping it was a crucial lack of staffing and not a crucial lack of caring if it wasn't done. But I want to know how many animals, exactly, were in a freezer awaiting time for a mass burial, and how many were found inside cages with live animals. One report suggests only one dead animal was found in a cage; another report suggests four dead animals were found in cages. Curiously, animal control seems to be conspicuously refusing to say. When an entire region brings you nothing but sick and dying animals (like I did), you're going to suffer a lot of sick and dying animals. The attrition rate will be high. You can walk into any such shelter at any time and find....hold on....you guessed it -- SICK AND DYING ANIMALS! -Especially in a no-kill sanctuary. Only an imbecile doesn't "get" this, but imbeciles abound and imbeciles often write for newspapers and imbeciles often release "breaking news" statements from government offices and sometimes....veterinarians are imbeciles too. Why aren't we allowed to euthanise the imbeciles? I'd donate to the cause!
What!? Veterinarians are sometimes imbeciles? Say it ain't so!
But it is so and here's just one example:
Many years ago I had to load a horse in a trailer to go some place or other. A neighbor had to also take his horse to the same place so we commenced to load both in the same trailer. Both were calm and steady broncs who had spent half of their lives in trailers. On this day, as my friend loaded his horse, the horse exploded and ended up causing a huge gash through the palm of my friend's hand. That was weird.
A few minutes later I was loading my own horse who had been fed in this very trailer for years. He exploded and caused a wreck which ended in a huge gash in the palm of my hand. The two wounds were virtually identical, except on different hands (his on the left, mine on the right). We bandaged ourselves temporarily -- we'd both need sutures -- and then cautiously loaded the horses again, and all went smooth as butter, as it had for years on end. Later we realized it was Friday the Thirteenth. Neither of us were superstitious, but still, things like that make you just a bit cautious when dealing in any proximity to the number Thirteen.
We trucked them on into town and dropped them where they had to go, and then walked across a hot and dusty courtyard to the back door of a vet's office. She was a friend of my friend. In that region you went to the vet first, and if the vet couldn't fix you, you might go see a real doctor. The Navajos with government medical coverage (almost all) would go straight to the real doctors. Those without coverage would go first to the medicine man, then to the vet, and if neither could fix them they just lived with the condition. Or died with it.
The back door of this vet's office was open, flies buzzing lazily in and out through the dust, and we walked directly into her operating room. The woman had a medium sized dog on the table, out like a light, tongue hanging down as flies inspected it for whatever flies are looking for, and the dog's ear was mostly off revealing a huge gash under the ear with some red and gray stuff down in there pretty deep.
The vet was working on the dog with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth and a 3/4 inch ash on the end of that. Her ungloved hands were bloody as was her cigarette because she'd been smoking it. She said hey, and we said hey, and she glanced at our hands and asked if we'd been fighting each other and we said no, then she announced she'd be a little while longer with the doggy and asked if we could wait and we both said shore.
She stepped back to the dog and asked us if THIS looked straight or if THAT looked straight as she was fixing to sew the dog's ear back on. I would have thought maybe you'd shave it and the surrounding area and then maybe match the jaggies in the tissue of the ear to the jaggies in the tissue around the skull and then -- well, what do I know. I couldn't really tell either way if the ear was straight because the whole dog looked kind of lopsided to me anyway but my friend said that a certain way looked straight to him, so she said ok and made a mental note of where that was I guess, and then her eyes brightened and she said, "Hey -- look at this. You can see his brain right there." So we both stepped up and looked at what she said was his brain, and it was interesting enough. She said a big dog had fought him and won. We'd guessed as much. She was still looking down into what she thought was his brain when the ash fell off her cigarette and dropped exactly down into the hole where the ear used to be. It didn't even hit the sides of the hole -- it went straight to the bottom of the hole. Briefly I wondered about the odds of that. Without thinking I stepped up again and saw the damned ash right down there on whatever it was she was calling his brain, and I thought, "Holy effing shit. That's not good at all."
But the vet was mostly nonplussed. She kind of nervously brushed at the area, but didn't stick her finger down into the hole or anything, and so didn't remove a molecule of the ash, but it got mooshed around to a degree that it didn't look like it had just dropped off a cigarette anymore but was more of a speckled bloody paste. I thought at least she'd irrigate the hell out of it, but no. I then thought that maybe hot ash was somehow naturally sterile and maybe she knew this from veterinary school because it didn't seem to bother her having it mooshed around down there in the little dog's brain, so I figured I shouldn't worry too much about it either. She was a VETERINARIAN after all. She flopped the ear back over to cover the hole and began suturing it into place. When I looked at it then it looked crooked as hell but I didn't say anything. When she was done she held the sleeping dog's head up and sure enough, the one ear was about 40 degrees off from the other one, but hell, I never expected the dog to survive anyway, with a brain full of Marlborough ashes, and so I continued to remain mute on the subject.
Presently she was done, and she looked at my friend's hand, and pulled the thread from the needle she'd been using on the dog, and poured some alcohol over it, and put new thread into the eye, and without so much as a mention of lidocaine, sutured up my friend's palm. It HAD to hurt but of course we were real men, or at least he was, and he never so much as winced. True Grit. When it came my turn I suddenly remembered that my wound was far less serious than his, even though it was identical, and I elected to bypass the surgery. I let it heal without sutures, which it did badly, but I saved the fifteen dollars she charged my friend, who was supposed to have been her friend.
Anyway, the point being, sometimes, far more often than one might want to know, vets are idiots too, and I want to know just how idiotic were the vets that killed 200 cats at LHCK because I don't believe more than about 5 or 8 of them should have been put to sleep and I'm not even sure about them, and I think the remaining hundred and ninety five or so were simply murdered. I have serious reservations about the competence and logic of any of the vets on scene at the LHCK during the raid. We're all sure listening, but for some reason they ain't talkin'.
I can't reach a conclusion regarding dead cats in cages versus freezers until I know those numbers and for some strange reason, the people who conducted the raid and who know those numbers, aren't telling anyone else, and "the media" doesn't seem to have deemed that an important enough question to ask. Kind of like watching Msnbc, CNN, NBC, or CBS or listening to NPR. Being short on volunteer-hours I have no problem whatsoever with a shelter storing dead animals in a freezer until someone has the time to bury them properly. I've done it and will likely have to again someday. If you had respect and love for the animal, how respectful and loving is it to leave the animal to bloat and rot in the sun? Have you ever seen that play out? Would you like me to describe to you the process? What do you think the county coroner is going to do with YOU when it's time?
Dead animals in the freezer? No problem.
Dead animals in with live animals in cages? How many and for how long?
Is there a single "newsman" on the planet who wouldn't think that a most pivotal question?
Yes! ALL of them!
If only a few animals were found dead in cages then I would expect this to be the case no matter how well-run the establishment, no matter where it was. Think about it: Animals that die, even a natural death of old age, and especially unexpectedly, in the care of the Humane Society, often die in the same cage as another animal that stays alive. Imagine, then, the outrage you could falsely manufacture, ignite and fan if you walked into a Humane Society and found a dead animal or two that had died within the past few hours and had not yet been found by staff; you could run screaming at the top of your lungs to the newspapers proclaiming that the Humane Society was derelict and abusive because "animals were found dead in the same cages as living animals", and that is the exact quote used against LHCK by the Humane Society and idiot reporters. Fair is fair: give us numbers. Until you do, I can't reach any conclusion about right or wrong-doing in this particular regard.
A friend (a human) slipped off a ladder a few weeks ago and bumped his head. The resultant hematoma on his brain landed him at Mercy hospital for a week. While there, an elderly cancer patient in his room passed away. This was, I'm told, about 9:30 am. Her family was extremely large (hundreds) and members came and went all day and night and the hospital had no area except the curtained-off section of that room that was suitable for viewing by such large numbers. This was loosely against policy but the family was SO large it really had to be done and I see no better option myself. Her body was removed, I'm told, sometime after midnight. Now, let's see how we could contort and dishonestly manipulate that to cause hysteria. I know: We could run screaming to the media proclaiming that Mercy hospital was so derelict that DEAD PEOPLE were found in the same
cages -- oops, ROOMS as the living. Shout it long enough and loudly enough with no explanation or clarification and it begins to sound positively grisly, even though it was, in reality, perfectly dignified. Once again, or as usual, as you wish, local news gives us little news.
I'll wait and watch to see how this shakes out over time. I honestly don't yet know if the humane society overreacted. I've certainly seen it happen in the past. Too many of these agencies want the animals to be either kept in top show condition, or they want them dead. They cannot tolerate anything in between where, in point of fact, almost all of the natural animal kingdom resides. There was a one-eye kitty at Renate's that I longed to adopt. Chances are, thanks to well-meaning but perhaps misguided "officials", that option is off the table now because the cat is likely dead at the hands of the same "humane" society that purports to "save" these animals. That cat was plump and healthy as a horse. I'm betting he was killed simply because he had one eye. Let's see what we see when I do a FOIA inquiring for records of that cat. Anyone want to bet against me? Animal control reads this page regularly; will they now scurry around like rats to fake up documentation for that one-eye kitty? Sadly, that's what we've come to expect from animal control offices around the country. Sneaky, dishonest, dirty people in far too many cases. Memo to "officials": Killing is not usually "saving" and that's why Renate was committed to the philosophy of a NO-KILL sanctuary. Is there a line, beyond which an animal should be put down? Unfortunately, it seems there is. But that line isn't often clear, and too often for my tastes, humane societies don't even look for that line -- they act according to convenience. Theirs.
With regard to the animals that were euthanised by animal control on 6-26, please consider this:
The 5 y/o gray cat that I brought in was near death at that time (several months before the raid), which is why I brought him in. I couldn't take any more in my home and he needed more care than I could give him, and living outside as a feral cat wasn't helping him either; I could never get him inside. I tamed him to a degree and got to know him over two years. His teeth were rotten and he had advanced gum disease. His coat was nearly gone (60% bald and infected). I was working with Renate and her volunteers to make sure gray kitty (he was never named) got wet food only, because he couldn't chew dry food, and that he received treatment for his gums (I watched them treat him), and have the offending teeth pulled. I visited him regularly and brought high quality food for him, and I discussed with the volunteers what his immediate needs were and what he needed from me. I know the volunteers singled him out and tried to make sure he got extra food and extra care. Since I dropped him there his coat had almost completely returned at least as short and healthy hair, and he was socialized and spry and engaged in and interested in life. He was still very thin, almost certainly the thinnest cat there, and we were experimenting with various foods, trying to figure out which ones would best help him recover and thrive. But all that came to a screeching halt when Merced County killed him. Saviors, indeed. Thanks folks. What a great call you made in that instance. One thing is an absolute certainty: The Merced County Humane Society has turned this from the "Last Hope Cat Kingdom" for this cat, to the "Lost Hope Cat Kingdom" for this cat. Before Merced County came along, Gray Kitty had hope. Now he has none.
I'm sorry, Gray Kitty, that I did this to you. I've been around enough, in eleven states and three countries, that I should have known better than to drop you anywhere the government could ever get ahold of you. I am so sorry. Had I known this was going to happen I would have just brought you home. I wasn't given that choice.
Cases occur where humane societies, sometimes run by people fresh out of academia, (sometimes by people who will never leave academia in their minds), unfamiliar with the real world, who will forevermore be unfamiliar with the real world, go too far to "save" animals and end up accomplishing the opposite. I've seen these brainiac officials confiscate prized endurance horses, for example, who were in stunningly superb and healthy condition, ready and able to run literally a hundred miles the following day and be in good health at the end, because the "official" thought it was "bad" to have part of a rib or two showing, and because these super-athletes didn't look like the fat, splay-hooved, unhealthy, couldn't-run-a-mile, soon-to-be sand-colicked horses they had at home. Fortunately, vets who administer and monitor races have, in all of my experiences in endurance racing, been able to take these inexperienced urban pink-poodle-owning animal control officials aside and educate them and get the horses back. Damned lucky the horses weren't euthanised on the spot "for their own good"... Some people shouldn't be allowed to carry a syringe.
Again: when animals are abused and rundown before they ever get to a shelter, as in the case of animals brought to LHCK, they're going to look abused and rundown when they're at that shelter. Sometimes their condition can be turned around, sometimes not, and make no mistake -- most animals dropped at shelters aren't dropped because they're pictures of health. The Last Hope Cat Kingdom was named for what it was -- the. last. hope. But well-meaning officials have removed that hope from the lives of nearly every animal there. The Cat Kingdom was MADE of abused and sick animals. Those are the animals that were brought there. They didn't deteriorate to that condition once there. They got better with care or they died in spite of care but they were given all the chances life had to offer and they were never killed because of some academic's imaginary rule learned only in a book. When YOU'RE sick and old, you will by God fight for every effing moment you can squeeze out of this life. Even people who've told me sincerely they WANT to die, change their minds when they're gaping into the maw. Let the animals do the same. Does this philosophy apply to ALL cases of sick and suffering animals? No. But it applies to most. And it applied to Gray Kitty and G*ddamned the stupid son of a bitch that killed him. He had a chance and he was fighting for his life and he was improving. To kill him was an instance of animal cruelty. I'd like to know, exactly, by name and home address, which "care giver" did it and I'm betting I eventually find out.
Here's an excerpt from a "real" expert; the source is here:
Dr. Lila Miller, D.V.M., ASPCA Sr. Director Animal Sciences and Vet Advisor
Runny eyes. Sneezing. Nasal discharge. Loss of appetite. Shelter workers all know the signs. Feline upper respiratory infections (URI for short) are the most commonly encountered disease problem in animal shelters. Some shelters have cases all the time. Others have outbreaks that can only be referred to as epidemics that result in the suspension of feline adoptions. Even the most conscientiously run shelter will suffer from occasional outbreaks. These outbreaks should not be taken as an automatic sign that the shelter’s health care system has failed. A careful evaluation of the health care program should be undertaken to determine what corrective measures are needed to minimize the impact of the disease on the shelter’s feline population. In most instances, elimination of the virus may be impossible and containment of the damage is the goal. Upper respiratory infections frequently cause mild symptoms that can be resolved if the shelter has the resources to isolate the animals, render nursing care and treatment or place them in foster care programs until they are cured of clinical signs. The reluctance to euthanise animals with mild symptoms will contribute to the longevity of the problem and the inability to rid the shelter of infection. Whichever goal is chosen, an understanding of the diseases and disease transmission is essential to start.
I've read a few of the blogs and forums that are now devouring this case, and with rare exception the comments and entries are so damned stupid and foolish and uninformed, like the pudding-headed Hollywood crackpots near Tanana, Alaska, as to make one wonder at the very sanity of the posters. It's like the insane asylum has suddenly been let loose on the streets and given something shiny to gaggle about and like a flock of demented geese these twits haven't disappointed. I can't even read any more comments by idiots. I'm not interested in comments regarding this case and I'll delete any that come in (or if they're stupid ENOUGH I might post them here with the IP address of the submitter and believe me, it IS possible and eminently doable to trace an IP back to a home address. I've done it and I'm happy to do it again.)
I currently have three more strays in my neighborhood. One is in about the same condition that gray kitty was in. If I take him to the Humane Society he'll be killed, period. If I advertise him on Craigslist I'll get zero response (except for ten thousand spams and offers for free VI-aRger-A, and idiotic form-letters from the mentally retarded). I know of no other real no-kill shelters and I have reasons for not trusting other local shelters anyway. One by one, I'll watch these animals die because there is no Last Hope sanctuary to take them in and at least TRY to help them.
What's the solution to this madness? Mandatory neutering/spaying of course. Make it a crime with a stiff penalty not to.
You can't legislate intelligence (Hell, sometimes I'm not even sure you can find it with a microscope in this region), but you can legislate a universally accepted action that reduces animal suffering. So do it.
But of course California won't. Because California does little that makes sense. We all know that. It's a given. And it was ever thus.
This raid should have been professionally videotaped from start to finish and the opinions of the vets recorded precisely. I doubt it was done, not because the county couldn't afford it (it would have cost nothing), but because the county wasn't smart enough to do it, and I doubt we, the public, will ever see the footage this side of a courtroom if it was done. I'll do a FOIA and get the names of the vets and all their "helpers" (if the county hasn't "lost" them) and I want the names and addresses of the complainants. My anger and suspicion regarding the number of animals killed (slaughtered) is growing and I'm finding that I want to see a great deal more information forthcoming. Do you see ANY animals in the photos that look as though they needed to be instantly killed on the spot in order to "save" them? Remember, OmorfiPhotographic shot the worst in order to evoke sympathy from the public and if the 200-killed number is correct that means that virtually every animal in these pictures is now dead at the hands of the "humane" society. What's really going on here? "Enquiring minds" want to know! And Enquiring Minds have all the time and patience in the world to find out. This bizarre event is beginning to conjure forth Halcyon images of Jim Jones at Jonestown and that's not a healthy way to be imagining our county "officials".
Was this, after all, just another botched small-town, small-mind witch-hunt?
Now that you've caught your witch, whatcha gonna do?
Updates will be appended below if and when new information comes in. I am struggling with one issue right now, however, and it's fueling my outrage, and that is the sheer number that "officials" (names please) deemed had to be killed. 200? Seriously? I frankly don't believe it. I remember seeing half a dozen at the shelter who may (may) have been in that gray area. I do NOT believe 200 needed to be put down unless there was some huge enclosure of dying cats that I never saw -- and I don't believe that either.
I'm going to shock the naive now. I want you to see a REAL case of animal abuse and a cut-and-dried instance in which forced euthanasia is required and is "the right thing" to do, as heart-rending as it may be. I'll leave a space here, below, so if you don't want to see shocking images that will make many sensitive people cry, as they should, then simply don't scroll down any farther.
I was driving home on highway #666 on the Navajo reservation, late afternoon, having already passed a veritable debris-field of dead dogs, cats and horses along the way, when I noticed this sweet little pony that had gotten itself tangled up in a cattle guard not far from my ranchette, probably driven there by coyotes or wild dogs, which was a common scenario. My own horses had been attacked by both, far more times than I can count or remember, and I was personally attacked by wild dogs several handfuls of times, and the sheer volume of starving wild dogs and coyotes I sent to predator-heaven as a result of these attacks was incalculable. One summer I declared war on them. I won every battle but completely lost the war. It sounds like a line out of a western but out on the range I learned to shoot quickly and straight when a pack of snarling dogs raced toward me. I was constantly amazed at the stunning ferociousness of a pack of lousy dogs....which looked so much like snuggly house-pets but which were, of course, starving. It was a cold-water-in-the-face kind of awakening to real life on the high desert. I know I'm digressing but sometimes you just have to and I'll yet pull this back into form: And isn't it curious that only once-domesticated but now-wild dogs attack humans, while always-wild coyotes do not. Familiarity breeds contempt. I'm afraid that too many vets and animal control employees, too familiar and comfortable with death, become desensitized to it and too-quickly use it to easily solve otherwise-complex or inconvenient problems, problems that DO have solutions, like the vast majority of cats at Last Hope Cat Kingdom, but unlike this unfortunate pony. I once worked as a dog-euthanizer in a dog-pound in Nevada. Damn my soul for it, but I know what I'm talking about.
I stopped at this cattle-guard and my young son and I approached this horse. We were the first ones on the scene -- the men shown above arrived later. Judging by the degree to which the blood had dried and the degree of clotting and the size of the coagulated puddle under the grates, I guessed the horse had been like that for a couple of hours or more. The horse was alive and alert but in mind-boggling pain, suffering from compound fractures of three legs. There was no hope for this animal, less than none. I thought about going home to get an oxyacetylene torch to cut apart the cattle guard but what then? Nothing was going to work in this animal's favor. No matter what angle I approached this from there was only one solution. I thought about a crane (not available locally), a sling (not available locally), three compound fractures that would keep the horse hanging in a sling for six weeks or more after surgery by an equine vet competent enough to pull it off (not available locally), the odds of refracturing one or more legs after all that treatment -- there was no hope there. It didn't matter how many times I replayed the scenario and recalculated the route. I came from a background as a commercial rescue diver and captain of a rescue tugboat in the northeast Pacific -- 131 ships raised and 321 rescues (including saving the US Coast Guard twice) performed for hire. I could virtually always find a way to succeed. But there was no way for this horse.
I squatted down beside it and while it begged with its eyes, soul to living soul, for my help, I talked to it softly and told it there was only one thing I could do to help it. Of course it didn't understand. It only knew that humans sometimes made things better and that's what it wanted from me. It wanted something, anything that would be better. I then retrieved a revolver from my old Jeep and walked up to the horse, choked on a few more meaningless words, and cocked the hammer. I'd been trained as to exactly where to shoot a horse by a veterinarian girlfriend-- so many people don't know and will botch it, turning the quick and simple task into a prolonged and bloody kind of axe-murder.
At that exact instant a sheriff's deputy slid to a stop, jumped from his vehicle, and commanded me to not shoot that horse. I uncocked the gun and waited patiently for an explanation. The deputy said there was a law that prevented it. I replied, "Ok, you know you can't leave this animal like this -- you shoot it then." He threw his hands in the air and said he wasn't allowed to, either, that he had been through this before, and that he had been reprimanded for it before. I countered that I was more than willing to take my chances with a civil suit by the owner. The deputy said no, it was a law making the act a criminal offense. This was far enough out in the country that some tiny shred of common sense should have remained and prevailed....but it clearly didn't. The lawyers had eradicated common sense even out there on the sandstone hogback. The deputy explained that the ONLY way the horse could be put out of its misery was (1) with the owner's express permission (or by the owner), or (2) by a court order. Again I was shocked but I was shocked daily in the high desert of New Mexico.
About this time a friend of the owner showed up, was given the facts, and hurried off to try to find the owner who, he thought, was in a bar some 35 miles away in town. I inquired about a court order -- but it could not be obtained until the following day.
The two gentleman shown above arrived and tried to shoot the horse themselves but the deputy put them at gunpoint when they insisted and made them stop. They were seething with anger and I half expected them to shoot the deputy first, then the horse. They put their gun back in their car and proceeded to do whatever they could to make the horse more comfortable, which was almost nothing.
An hour and a half later the owner's friend came back and stated that he had indeed found the owner drinking in a local honky-tonk, and he had explained the situation, and the owner had laughed and said he never liked that horse anyway (I heard this exact line, verbatim, spoken by a north Canadian native man years before except that he was talking about a beautiful boat that had been given to him as a gift and which he promptly sent to the bottom for no reason I could ever imagine).
When asked for permission to euthanise the horse the owner refused. When pressed, the owner tried to fight the man. This, the owner's ex-friend dutifully reported to the deputy. It wasn't really out-of-the-ordinary behavior for people in that region. I knew people who had moved there from various parts of the country, usually transferred by corporations, who suffered nervous breakdowns within months due to the bizarre nature and behavior of the local population. Some of them recovered and became violent toward their neighbors (meaning everyone around). Some never recovered -- they either remained hospitalized, or left the region, well medicated, and were never quite the same. I could tell you stories but that would be digressing again. Suffice it to say that 25 years later I'm still trying to completely recover from things I saw and experienced there - things which, I would have bet earlier, could never occur on this planet. It was truly a case of going down the rabbit hole and still is today. It's the land that time forgot.
At this point I asked the deputy to simply drive away for a few minutes and come back. I told him I had heard a rumor about a woman being abused a few miles down the road -- purely fabricated of course. Many deputies would have taken this as their cue to do something good and to have their asses covered in the doing of it. Not this guy. He was resolutely steadfast in his concrete determination to follow the law to the letter and he stayed the entire night to "guard" this horse, as did the two men shown above, who were probably just waiting for the deputy to leave. I hung around a few hours hoping the deputy would get a more urgent call, but he didn't. It never occurred to me to manufacture one. I should have.
I came back in the morning to find they had obtained a court order to put the animal down and they did so with a 30-30 rifle, a gross overkill (a .22 LR is fine if the placement is correct), and as I arrived they were chain-sawing it up and loading the pieces into a pickup.
The local newspaper refused to print my commentary.
The owner was never charged, despite my very best efforts.
And scenes like this are repeated many times per day on the reservations and off.
Point: A cat with the sniffles is NOT a horse with three broken legs.
I'll tell you one last story, just one out of hundreds I could tell, about life on the high desert out on the rez, before I close this chapter, though it has really nothing to do with the plight of the Last Hope Cat Kingdom in tame and reasonable suburban Atwater, California and if I planned to continue the original thread I could again be accused of digressing, but this really is The End -- it's just a tiny last attempt at demonstrating an ugly side of the relationship between animals and humans in some locales.
I had a friend who had a little horse he didn't want anymore. He asked me to come over and take a look and see if I wanted it for free. I did drive over and we walked out into the pen and about four of us were standing next to the horse, none of us more than 18 inches from its head, when suddenly we heard a soft whap/thud, deceptively quiet, and before we could process it the horse was on the ground with a bullet hole in its forehead. I had to actually step aside as it crumpled to the ground with a soft groan. And then we heard the crack of the rifle from a quarter mile away. The horse twitched a few times then stopped. We looked to the source of the sound, and could plainly see a native man swinging his rifle up and then mounting a horse with a long look straight at us. I said WTF, then, since I was much younger than my friend, offered to go get the shooter. My friend had a magnificent Thoroughbred right there in the same pen, though this horse was known to buck me off about every third time I rode it, but assuming I could stay on it, it was fast as hell and could have easily caught the shooter, outstriding his horse by probably two-to-one, and would have run right over the top of him and his horse and we could have then prosecuted or hung the stupid son of a bitch. The odds of being shot by the shooter as he galloped ahead of me were nil. My friend looked hard at the figure and clenched his teeth and shook his head, said he couldn't take any more trouble. He said the man had been coming around the last few days, having sniffed out the rumor of a possible free horse, but my friend had refused to give it to him, sensing that the man was an asshole and probably a horse beater.
This had offended the Navajo and he had decided to make sure that if he couldn't have the horse, no one could. It was a good shot, and a lucky shot for all of us, considering that people in that region could seldom shoot straight at all. This friend is one of the men I knew who'd suffered a complete nervous breakdown three months after being transferred to this region by his employer.
I argued with my friend. He remained resolute and the shooter rode, literally, off into the sunset. My friend went and started his backhoe and buried the horse and we went home. THAT, ladies and gentlemen, was daily life on the high desert of the Navajo reservation in New Mexico but it applies to all sorts of dark, dirty little corners across the country. We're not nearly as civilized as you might think.
In this case the Indian police were never notified. There was no point.
I had moved onto the rez years before, determined to use my small notoriety to once and for all save the poor Indians from the vicious white man and set things straight. "I", I thought, was the one man to finally do it.
I left the reservation years later, wondering if it was possible for a layman to manufacture one of those "N" bombs that wipes out all humanity but leaves buildings and structures intact. I left and never looked back.
If YOU haven't lived for years on any similar reservation you are completely and absolutely unqualified to comment. Not one uneducated word.
I'm appending an excerpt from an article published by the Merced Sun-Star. Gee, could this mean that the newspaper GROSSLY OVERREACTED and FALSELY COLORED this story initially? What a bloody surprise that would be, eh?
Copy and Paste from Sun-Star in yellow italics:
Meanwhile, a review of animal control complaints under a public records request by the Sun-Star, turned up no signs of trouble at the 2,240-square-foot facility. [it's actually 18 acres but for some mysterious reason the Sun-Star wants us all to believe the shelter was only 2200 square feet -- they keep repeating this in multiple articles. Why? It makes it sound horrible to think there were 300 cats in 2200 square feet, which, of course, it would be if it was true. Is that the exact reaction the Sun-Star wanted to cultivate? Why? The truth is that the shelter is 784,080 square feet which is about 2600 square feet per cat. How many square feet does YOUR cat have? Not that much? Then you must be ABUSING it, right? Maybe the Humane Society will come to your house and kill your cat to save it from your abuse.]
No formal complaints had been filed in the past three years, according to the documents. The most recent complaint, December 2010, dealt with excessive amounts of feces on the property.
In her report, animal control officer Cerissa Hultgren noted, "I did not see any excessive amount of feces. The kennels appeared to have been recently cleaned … I did not see any violation."
Two other complaints were filed in 2010, and one in 2009, which were in regard to a neighbor's complaint of loose animals, neglect of animals, and concerns about euthanasia procedures and disposal of bodies.
In the neglect complaint, the animal officer said Schmitz was "cooperative" and gave him a tour of the facility, including dorms that housed 147 cats. Schmitz told him that was the facility's maximum capacity.
The euthanasia complaint, handled by Hultgren, noted that Schmitz placed the dead cats in a "big freezer" until it became full — then they were buried in the field on the property.....
....In that report, Hultgren noted a messy trailer with "pieces of litter, kibble, and cat hair on the floor," [OMG! This sounds suspiciously like MY LIVING ROOM!] but it appeared there was fresh food and water for the animals.
This case is a damned mess, a veritable can of worms, because the county handled the previous inspections poorly, handled the "raid" and decisions made during the raid poorly, handled the outgoing dissemination of information in the form of private statements to "friends of the county" poorly, handled what it said to the local media poorly -- but that's largely what counties such as Merced DO, isn't it? Plenty of money exists in the county to properly handle a plethora of community problems that aren't being handled well now (this usually means hiring competent and professional people to fill key county positions), but these funds are routinely routed to areas that are just plain wasteful and even counter-productive. Do you realize that Superior Court Judges in Merced County are each paid $180,000 a year? And they barely earn forty five. I submit that not one of them could competently run a 7-11. Now tell me why the county can't afford to (fill in the blank) ______________. Trim just a smidgen of fat out of these outrageous, embarrassing, should-be-criminal salaries and maybe, just maybe, we could put a lifeguard at our lake. But of course these judges would never, never go for that (they might want to remodel the pools in their own backyards first, or buy some new Lincolns or Porches). Or maybe, just maybe, the county could help some animals in a way that reduced existing and future animal shelter costs. Naw -- that could never happen. Sorry I even thought of it. In California, whispers of paying a reasonable wage to greedy, witless, corrupt government officials is pure blasphemy.
It is my belief that Renate Schmitz has grounds for several civil suits for slander and libel (libel for the written defamation such as in a newspaper) against numerous posters to the Sun-Star comments section regarding this case, if not against the Sun-Star itself (the Sun-Star may be held at least partially liable for the comments of its posters and may be filed against as co-defendants). I'll copy a few of the offending comments and pass them to Ms. Schmitz' attorney.
NOTE: Within only a few hours of posting the above paragraph, the comments in the Sun-Star that seemed to be blatantly, black-and-white civilly actionable and winnable as provably libelous mysteriously vanished from the Sun-Star website. Below are a couple of milder idiot-comments, however, which demonstrate just how easily local imbeciles will pop-off before they know ANY of the facts, having foolishly and naively taken what they read in publications like the Sun-Star (less credible than the National Enquirer in my view) at face value as fact. Some of these people rabidly posted over and over and over and over and over, often not even bothering to wait to respond to the comments or viewpoints of other posters on the Sun-Star site, all the while knowing less than NOTHING about the actual case. The rancidity of these posters is testament to the effectiveness of the hatchet-job done to this sanctuary by the Sun-Star. I swear you could actually smell the diarrhea spewing from the tiny reptilian brains of some of these posters. I do agree with Roxyroller123 on one point: "Someone" needs a good head-shrinker. I won't post any more of this uneducated garbage -- sorry I posted this much but this bizarre level of stupidity has become part of the story and it needed to be included and addressed. I thought vigilantism was no longer in vogue? Apparently it's back. This level of rank stupidity is positively staggering. Great job (again), Sun-Star.
Am I "too hard" on "news" publications like the Sun-Star?
When I was rescuing ships in the 1970's I was featured in one publication after another an average of a couple of times per week. Writers sometimes came to my town to spend a week to write about my company and our jobs. Not once -- read that carefully because it is not a misprint: NOT ONE TIME did ANY publication get EVEN ONE STORY about me CORRECT. Read this again if your bifocals have slipped: NOT. ONE. BLOODY. TIME.
Were they ever even close?
In many cases you couldn't even tell the real story from the Sci-Fi nonsense-version the media imagined and regurgitated. Once they had me, in print, holding my breath for what added up to be about seven minutes. I could barely hold my breath for one which was why my dive systems were really, really, exceptionally good and obnoxiously redundant. Finally, after years of this and years of telling the reporters to get it right or don't come to talk to me anymore, I permanently installed a large, conspicuous reel-to-reel tape recorder in the wheelhouse of one of the tugs (it was the 1970's for God's sake) and insisted that all interviews be done there only. Once the reporters were present and seated I always made a big show of starting the tape recorder and I cheerfully offered that if any of them had trouble remembering the story or the quotes or the facts not to worry because "I" had the damned tape recording of it.
Did that help?
Not really, not in any meaningful way. They just print whatever crap they feel like printing. It's called FICTION and they ALL do it. They write fiction because it's easier and more fun than collecting and verifying facts (eeeewwww...that's rather too much like work) and because their uber-liberal Universities have convinced them that their "writer's creative license" covers just about anything. Just about anything. They write first according to emotion, and wriggle to find justification for their fiction later, or perhpas not at all. The problem is that "journalists" aren't supposed to HAVE "creative" license. They're not ever supposed to be creative! That's not their job! If they wanted to be fiction writers they should have started novels, but of course most of them are piss-poor writers in the first place and could never sell a piece of literary work so they just sit back and imagine "news" for $400 a week.
When I was a kid our teacher posted a handful of pictures on the wall. No captions, no stories, no explanations. And he said we had to choose one and write a story about it. I wrote a story about the damage inflicted on a research laboratory by a raging fire (oh the humanity). My teacher laughed and laughed and finally explained that the picture was actually of the real "untouchables" busting up one of Al Capone's stills. I was in fourth grade and it looked like a laboratory to me and who the hell was Al Capone? Reporters today are supposed to be smarter than fourth graders but they're not and they have no aspirations to be.
Reporters don't even have to delete all adjectives from their vocabulary to stop being creative -- they can be creative by merely putting certain "facts" in juxtaposition to other facts, which were never and still aren't related except that they now APPEAR to be related because they're placed adjacent to each other. Journalists with an agenda are masters at this. Some journalists don't even realize they have an agenda until a story comes along that interests them and subconsciously they end up saying in the first five seconds, "I THINK, therefore IT IS..." (this way or that way). And so they write the piece, consciously or not (more often consciously) to reflect what THEY THINK. And if it turns out later that the facts prove them wrong, well, so what. They can always claim they were absent (at home smoking dope) on the day subjects like "objectivity" and "bias" were taught at UC Berkeley (if those subjects are even discussed at Berkeley except as humorous asides). Most major media outlets now, print and broadcast, don't even try to be objective. They abandon that silly notion so long ago that they're no longer even familiar with the word; they'd have to go look it up if it came up in conversation. The problem is, who can stop them? You? How? By writing counter-pieces like this? It's a few molecules in the bucket. Look at the readership of the lousy little Sun-Star. Now look at the readership of this tiny web page. 99.999% of the population has the Sun-Star story in their gullets now and as crazy and irresponsible as it is, it will never be dislodged. The Last Hope Cat Kingdom was tried and convicted the same day the news came out and it's far harder for most people to change an opinion as opposed to forming the original opinion. Newspapers know this and they delight in it. It allows them to stay right even when they're shown to be provably wrong.
I'm going to digress again but it's to make a relevant point:
Once we were called out to try to save about five crewmen aboard a King Crabber that had stupidly run-aground in a raging storm (yes, I know, you watch that TV show about King Crabbers and they are just wonderful and competent people. No, I'm sorry they're not. They're mostly drunks and dopers who operate junk for boats, who won't carry enough spare parts for the simplest of fixes, and who only fish a few months out of the year anyway, like a paying hobby). We rescued them all. the. time. and usually had to sue their insurance companies, if they even had insurance, to get paid (we won every case).
This particular King Crabber had hit the shore so hard that it rolled over onto its side and was being completely swept by every gargantuan sea that rolled in. The crew got out onto the now-vertical deck and entwined themselves in the railings (which were now horizontal) and called Mayday on a handheld VHF radio. It was a miracle anyone heard them. I remember it as the whispiest kind of ghost-voice fading in and out on the static in the wind. Kind of heartbreaking actually. When the seas came over it, you couldn't even see the vessel for a minute and these guys were holding their breaths, still hanging onto the railings, until that sea passed and crashed onto the shore, a couple hundred yards to leeward.
The Coast Guard responded a helicopter from 30 miles away. It arrived on scene but couldn't get low enough to pick up any of the survivors because the spray from the combers, as they crashed over the ship, was freezing on their rotor blades and they were in danger of going down in the ocean.
They then dispatched an 81 foot Coast Guard cutter from about 30 miles the opposite direction. It ran into the storm for a couple of miles, then turned tail and ran back for port, saying it was too rough for them and they were in danger of losing the cutter.
We had heard all this and, knowing the men on the crabber couldn't survive, we unslipped our 88 foot tug and headed out as well. We were 15 minutes out when we passed the Coast Guard cutter, beam to beam, coming in. The Cutter's SAR (search and rescue center) down in the city was literally yelling at the cutter's captain to turn back around and help the stricken King Crabber. The captain refused again and again and again and again. And the Cutter continued to steam back into port and her warm, snug berth in the marina, where she stayed for the rest of the night.
We kept going into 88 knot winds (same as the length of our tug) (101 mph) and seas that were like foothills (they took my breath away in the moonlight) and by the next morning we'd saved all the crew AND the King Crabber and the whole thing made a great sea-story which was published years later.
Next day, there it was, headlines in the local paper: Coast Guard Saves King Crabber, with a long and detailed story about the trials and travails of the harrowing rescue by the fearless Coast Guard (neither the media NOR the Coast Guard were even within 30 miles of the scene). The Coast Guard didn't have the balls to correct the story. EVER. And we let it go too. It was all just too seamy to think about again.
On another occasion we listened to the radio as a lone windsurfer with a broken mast was reported by a lighthouse keeper to be drifting by, out in the channel. We listened as the Coast Guard took the report and dispatched a helicopter from 60 miles away. The helo arrived on-scene the man's last-reported position and, with the tide at full flood to the south, began their search pattern to the north. After a couple of hours they reported "no contact" and were preparing to call it a night. By this time we were apoplectic and simply drove to the marina, stepped aboard a tug, flicked the radar on, ramped up the gain (we were moored 50 feet from the Coast Guard cutter which could have done the same damned thing at any given moment), and there was a tiny blip about five miles out to sea. We started the engine and drove to the spot and picked the frozen man up, all the while watching the light show from the helicopters, ten miles to the north.
This guy was near death so we called in to the Coast Guard station in our own marina and asked them to have an EMT standing by to take the guy when we got in. They lackadaisically said, fine, sure, no problem. As we came to the mouth of our marina we heard some tiny voices on the wind. We slowed, threw the boat out of gear, then finally shut down the main so we could hear better. A hundred yards away, on shore, we finally saw a Coast Guard skiff and about four cold crewmen; they'd run aground trying to leave the marina hours before and were afraid to call their own station for help, and were asking us to drag them off the beach. This time we declined and continued on into the marina where the Coast Guard station was dark and deserted and NO ONE met us at the dock. We had to call a private ambulance for our victim.
Next day, you guessed it -- a lovely story in one local "news" publication about how Coast Guard helicopters had rescued a drowning swimmer at sea. The Coast Guard didn't bother to correct the story, and neither did we. In reality many demotions resulted, including the Captain of the lead helicopter losing his rank. None of that was ever reported.
We were once called out to try to save two hard-hat divers who were trapped on a work-site at a depth of 240 feet. The Coast guard killed at least one of them seconds before we got there (both died) through staggering incompetence and dumped his body overboard presumably to cover it up (we recovered the one body), and the Coast Guard later lied about it in court at the coroner's hearing so they would suffer no liability.
The following day one of the local newspapers featured a front page story in which I couldn't even recognize the actual event. The story was so convoluted and erroneous that industry leaders asked me for years what really happened. The newspaper won a prestigious award for the story and the writer who stole it from the writer we gave it to was promoted. The media never reported the involuntary manslaughter even though we supplied them with documented proof.
I have at least fifty stories like that.
FACT: Except Walter Cronkite, the media are idiots. Maybe modern-day college makes them that way. Maybe they were all born with brain defects. And the Sun-Star is no exception. THAT is why I give them no quarter whatsoever. I WANT them to be angry, so angry and embarrassed that they begin DOING THEIR JOBS. Wouldn't that be a novelty? This is how newspapers across the country work. Virtually all of them. It's reality. Suck it up and make life-decisions accordingly because "the news" tells you anything but the truth. I swear to God they lie when the truth would serve them better. I think it's in their genes to do so..
With regard to uninformed and malicious posts by readers in the Sun-Star comments section, I've become clearly too cranky to continue this page. If I come back to it in the future I'll try to do so more rationally. I'm sorry but this level of idiocy would disgust and enrage a Saint -- and I'm not even remotely close to that lofty status so I have a great excuse. One last cheap shot to the soft parts of the face: How do people as utterly moronic as "Roxyroller123" ever find their ways home at night? --Not a rhetorical question. I sincerely want to know because I do not understand how they accomplish it. It's like asking a Goldfish to knit a sweater.
I don't know who this twit is replying to -- I think sometimes she replies to herself:
Merced County Animal Control:
I've endured only one personal interaction with Merced County animal control and here it is:
Years ago I was visiting with a friend, an elderly gentleman, out on my front lawn. He walked by nearly every day with his ancient, diabetic dog, a 15 pound little tyke that was almost completely blind and who only wanted to get through this life as unmolested as possible, like all of us. No gentler dog ever lived.
The dog was tied to a tree in my yard. A loose and rangy-looking pitbulll, 80 pounds, came trotting down the street, unknown to all of us. Of course it made a beeline for my yard and the diabetic little dog and instantly commenced to tearing it up. I reached in and got the pit by the scruff and the ass and picked it up and away from the victim, then tied it so it couldn't do anymore damage. The little dog was hurt but the vet would later fix him up.
I called Merced County animal control to come pick up the pit. I don't like pits, partly because of their temperament (I liken it to the "little man" or "banty rooster" syndrome in humans) and because I think they're as ugly as a deformed sucker fish. But anyway.
A woman showed up in the animal control truck; I explained the situation in about two sentences and asked if she would be able to take the dog because we didn't want to turn it loose again with all the small children playing in the streets. She was tallish as I recall, maybe 5'10", maybe blonde-ish, not bad looking, maybe early to mid thirties.
Without an instant's hesitation she commenced to lecture me about how "YOU PEOPLE" breed these dogs and you have too many of them and -- and then she must have noticed my disgusted expression because she caught herself and took a breath and said she didn't mean "YOU" people, as in ME, specifically....and her demeanor calmed down to a point only halfway between a hot-head punk and a jackass. She finally took the dog and left.
I am full blooded Scottish with skin as white as the creamy filling inside a Hostess cupcake.
I live in a new home with a new car in the driveway. My yard is immaculate. My only pets are two cats.
My friend was Scandinavian (a little pink from the sun) and very well dressed.
Who, exactly, are "YOU PEOPLE"?
Is the county profiling the effin' SCOTTISH now? Haven't they ever watched BraveHeart?
I've feigned ignorance here to make a point. The truth is my yard was full of neighborhood Mexican kids playing because I tend to prefer the company of Mexicans because I enjoy their relative unpretentiousness and THAT is who "YOU PEOPLE" were.
I wouldn't call animal control again. Ever. For any reason. I've seen this stink too many times around the world. It's called "SGS" (Security Guard Syndrome) or "WBCS" (Wannabe a Cop Syndrome). I won't tolerate the rudeness.
Where in God's name does that putrid attitude come from.
Notice there is no question mark on the preceding sentence because I know exactly where that attitude comes from: It comes from small-minded people being given POWER, no matter the country or state.
Who the Hell does this woman think pays her wages?
ADVICE to SMALL MINDED PEOPLE with POWER (SMPP):
Try being professional and respectful and decent FIRST. If that approach fails then que sera, sera. But try acting like an intelligent human being FIRST. More Barney Fifes the world does NOT need, except on TV.
For many weeks now we've watched various "news" publications slant the story heavily against LHCK and it appears the Merced County Animal Control has piled on with innuendos and mumbled misrepresentations of its own. One of the things people were asked to believe was that there were "74 dead animals" (found at the center), and the stories were biased in such a way, by omitting facts and statements, so as to make it look like many or most (some people thought ALL) of these animals were found just lying around the place, wherever they died, for days or weeks, just out there rotting in the sun like a scene out of some macabre Zombie film. First, remember that this center had about 400 cats, almost ALL of whom were brought to them in some stage of DYING. Imagine the amazing coincidence, then, when some of those animals actually DIED. Oh My God! How could that happen? It's called LIFE and DEATH. It happens. Animals die. People die. Unfortunately animals die more often than people. Too bad reporters don't die more often than animals. Take 400 sick and dying cats and see how many die each week. It ain't rocket science.
But here's where the media really screwed Renate over: The media has reported this 74 number over and over and over and over, always saying that "some" were found in a freezer, leaving everyone to believe that "many" must have been lying around the house or some such (remember the local media repeatedly told you the size of this shelter was 2200 square feet when it was in reality EIGHTEEN ACRES!).
Anyway, now we know the truth and here it is:
County officials said last week some of the 74 dead animals were found in freezers, while others were in cages with live animals.
The report now continues:
....One of the animals died overnight [in a cage], and was found the next morning by animal control officers.
73 animals had died of natural causes days or weeks or months before, and were placed in a freezer, just like the coroner is going to do to YOU (please run screaming to the media regarding what the coroner is going to do to you when you die). And one (1) animal was found in a cage, having died sometime in the night, before the raid. I have now confirmed this from two official sources. Honestly, in a shelter run as well as a human hospital, I'd expect to still find half a dozen dead animals in the cages every single day. Apparently, in this shelter, there was only one on that morning, which animal control found, and still they allowed the notion to be widely disseminated that there were "many" found dead in cages. It appears that Animal Control WANTED the public to think the worst. Why? Perhaps to cover their own stupid mistakes and bad judgement in this case. They simply wanted public opinion on their side, so when a misleading story began gaining traction, Animal Control just shut the hell up and never set it straight. Great job, MCAC, as always.
So there's the FACT.
Why is it that every single putrid, lazy, irresponsible "media" outlet in California will only report that "some" of the dead animals were found in the freezer when nearly ALL of them were? Why? Seriously, WHY?! It is this: It is that "news" media across the state know they can fuel the flames and sell more papers and garner more listeners and viewers if they make the story look as though there were dead animals lying all over the place, as opposed to the truth that ALL of the dead animals but one were found in the freezer. This is a classic, documented example of the disgusting, legally actionable vomit that spews from the keyboards of so-called "news" agencies. It's not just Merced or the Central Valley or California -- it's the whole ignorant media nationally.
And when stupid people blindly accept what they read in the popular media, they regurgitate bile like this idiot who calls herself "Radiance" (I call her Darkness -- just another wannabe vigilante who doesn't seem to even CARE what the FACTS are -- she just enjoys ranting and insulting. Do you want this woman on your jury?):
Comment to the Merced SunStar by "Radiance"
Based on first-hand experience with this county's animal control mentality around the country and around the world I can only begin to wonder, and shudder with horror, thinking about what must have REALLY happened out at LHCK on 6-26-2013. What I wouldn't give for the video.
I think one way to help the people of this county is to set up a citizen's pool of concerned parties who own video cameras, and have them ready to be dispatched on a moment's notice anytime animal control is dispatched anywhere. An attorney would have to be kept on retainer because animal control would initially try to prohibit the taping of their "official operations", saying the recording was "interfering". But this could all be done and animal control would soon learn, in court, to suck up the recording of its methods.
Will it happen here? No. The people of this county simply don't care enough. It would work nearer the Bay area in some of the more affluent communities, but animal control there doesn't act like animal control here because they know at least half of their citizens have the means and the determination to SUE THEM at the drop of a hat. In Merced county, animal control knows it can do just about anything it wants, no matter how outrageous, and there will be no penalty to pay. I don't want animal control to be sued at the drop of a hat; I merely want reasonable accountability, and here I see none, and that's dead wrong.
Is this the end of this story?
Not even close. This page is the prelude.
As soon as the sanctuary's attorney clears their people to talk (weeks or months -- the prosecutor has up to two years to file charges), this page will expand by three to five times this size. I'm uncovering not just a mountain of evidence against the sheriff's office and animal control, but a whole mountain range.
Can you trust your Sheriff's department, or any other SO?
Unfortunately it's a question so naive it doesn't even deserve an answer but I'll offer one small example out of hundreds I could tell:
Years ago I had a friend, now deceased, and he asked me not to reveal this incident until he was deceased, who was the official gunsmith for his local county SO.
One day two deputies came to him with a fairly new 12ga. shotgun and said the county needed to have it examined to see if there was any possibility that it could have fired spontaneously without the trigger having been pulled. My friend agreed to examine the gun; it was a routine examination. Before departing, the deputies informed my friend that he WOULD find that the gun was not faulty in any way, and that if he didn't, "things", bad things, could happen to him.
My friend was a hard ass extraordinaire and he stated bluntly that he would find what he found regardless of what the deputies wanted him to find and that if they didn't like it they could go f*ck themselves. The deputies left in a huff.
The background on the case was that a man heard his doorbell ring and answered the door. At his door were four or five local tweeker punks who had been stealing from his commercial enterprize and who were at his door to "kick his ass" because he'd had the audacity to call the police on them weeks before. None of this was disputed at trial.
At some point in the argument the resident shot one of the punks in the shoulder with the 12 gauge. He'd never been in trouble before but now the punk died and he was charged with murder. The deputies had instantly decided that they sided with the punks and they personally wanted the business owner convicted. They were anticipating that the man might try to claim at his trial that he was merely holding the shotgun when it accidentally went off on its own. I actually had that happen once so it CAN occur, but it's about as rare as having sex with a beautiful alien.
While the gun was still in my friend's care, the deputies returned to his business and told him that while the suspect had been in jail, they had come to know him, and he really was a nice guy after all and the punks were just punks after all and the one victim deserved to be killed anyway, and they commanded my friend to officially find that the shotgun HAD spontaneously fired, thereby making the shooter not guilty. My friend ran them off the property.
As it happened in the end, the shooter never tried to use such a defense -- probably never even thought of it because he was a stand-up human being. My friend found that the gun was in perfect working order and had not fired spontaneously, which was the FACT (you know, those pesky things called FACTS). The deputies were again pissed because their COMMAND to my friend had not been followed for a second time, and my friend had mysterious troubles in that county until both deputies moved out of the area. The shooter was convicted of a lesser charge and did six years.
The county SO in question was known to be one of the best, most upstanding, unbiased, fair, professional, competent offices in the state. They were highly regarded before and after, almost beyond reproach. Yet they did this and that is a fact and based on my years in Federal law enforcement I know, by first hand experience, that most, or perhaps even all, county sheriff's offices are capable of this and operate in this way almost on a daily basis, very often to a degree a hundred times more disgusting than this. How do I know this? Because when I transferred out of one division, I transferred into a political corruption unit and one of our best "customers" was local corrupt sheriff's departments (my area was the central U.S.).
Now, if the "good" SO in that county was capable of something this horrendously evil, what do you think Merced County is capable of -- a county that is already famous for corruption, incompetence and staggering stupidity? It's capable of A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G and that is a fact.
Does this mean Merced county WILL continue to act in a corrupt and dishonest manner to cause grief and harm to the LHCK? No, not necessarily. It means that the county MAY continue to do that, at its whim, depending on whether or not anyone in leadership roles perceives there to be enough potential personal gain in doing it. THAT is the sword you all live under in this and virtually every other county and laws can't change it, nor can I help you with it -- only a broad, basic and systemic change in Human Nature can beat back this darkness and I don't see that on any horizon. In fact, I see the opposite.
Has Merced county animal control, the Sun-Star, a bad vet and a local social butterfly already whimsically caused unnecessary harm to the LHCK and its feline residents?
Yes, I believe they have and I'm virtually positive it can be proven. Given sufficient funds it can be sued for and won.
Now let's see if we can provide enough documentation to convince a corrupt court whose only interest is in maintaining the screechingly inappropriate wages of its judges and in furthering the careers of its frat-boy and girl leaders.
I've been extremely busy with other matters, and wouldn't you know, that's exactly when information regarding this case presents itself.
As of this date I want to know the following:
What is Dave Robinson's (Ag Commish) relationship with the editor(s) of the Merced Sun-Star?
I want to see any and all written correspondence between Merced Animal Control, the Merced Sun-Star, Sharon Lohman of "New Beginnings" fame and David Robinson, among others.
I'm going to say a horrible thing here: I am almost wishing that the district attorney files a charge against Renate because that will give her instant subpoena authority and discovery rights and if those rights can be used well and extensively we're going to see an absolute nuclear bomb explode with regard to who's involved in what. THAT will be fun.
The D.A. hasn't filed a charge as of this date and here's a theory: I think the D.A. is afraid to file a charge because (1) he can't find a charge that will stick, and (2) he's afraid of Renate gaining discovery and subpoena authority, and (3) he knows that as long as the case is pending no office has to honor my FOIA requests for certain damning information, and (4) he knows that as long as the case is "pending", everyone at LHCK is effectively gagged. He knows that if he can drag this out for a year or two before the Last Hope Cat Kingdom people are allowed to speak and publish documents, the case will be so old that no one will care. I think that's what he wants. A good attorney can force the D.A. to make a decision and stick to it, given that Renate's life-mission is on hold until he decides, and no new information is likely to come forward. There is no legitimate reason to stall the case any longer. A good attorney can convince a court to force the D.A. to DECIDE.
What I think:
I think we will eventually be able to show a direct connection between several key players in this case, even to the point of criminal conspiracy, and I think we'll be able to show that the Merced Sun Star caved to political pressure regarding how they treated this story. I think we can connect those dots in a concrete and provable way. Time will tell.
548 W 21st Street
Merced, CA 95340-3719
I'm told your office is representing Renate, out at the cat rescue in Atwater.
I'm somewhat familiar with their situation and believe they've been targeted by several individuals working in concert with Merced County Animal Control. Indeed, AC seems to have operated as virtual employees of these people and I believe we can prove it. I've seen this type of thing countless times in Federal law enforcement and other venues.
There is a web page at this URL:
It may offer defense ideas.
The folks at the rescue would like to speak out and clarify what really happened, as one might expect. As it stands their name is effectively ruined and they wish to set the record straight, and it is their right and obligation to do so. Unfortunately, as you know, it's unwise for them to do so until either charges are filed and finally adjudicated, or the DA formally confirms that no charges will be filed. This creates a strain on Renate and the volunteer staff, who would like to get on with their life-ambition of rescuing animals. They feel they're unable to do that while the case remains in limbo. Perhaps it would help them if the DA could be convinced to make a decision without further undue delay. Once they're cleared to speak freely, a new page will be created on their behalf, featuring the facts of the case, which will tend to implicate several county officials in a conspiracy to shut them down at the behest of one or two obnoxious local social flower types.
I currently believe the DA will stall as long as possible to clear the case because that office doesn't want the facts to be publicly disseminated. I believe that office will drag this out as long as legally possible in a conscious effort to keep the case from being stated until it's "old news". It is NOT in the prosecutor's nor the county's best interests to allow this case to be publicized except by news entities they appear to control (i.e. Merced Sun-Star).
In any case, if the arguments on the page listed above can be useful in any way, please feel free to use them.
A photography website has posted pictures of the
2.5 weeks before Animal Control "saved" them: