Ontario Police Oops-Torture Pet, Meant to Torture Wild Animal

Merrick, as pictured on the CTV News website.

Merrick, as pictured on the CTV News website.

Residents in an Ontario neighborhood contacted police about a coyote roaming the area Monday night.  Ontario police sent a car in response and an animal approached the car:

“It just kept hanging around and it wasn’t afraid of the vehicle at all, of anything. It was just lurking around looking at the vehicle,” resident Kelly O’Neill told CTV Barrie on Tuesday. “It wasn’t afraid at all.”

Instead of capturing the animal, O’Neill said the police cruiser ran over it several times. One of the officers then got out of the car and shot it.

On Wednesday morning, OPP confirmed the animal was a dog, not a coyote.

Oops. I guess that’s why she wasn’t afraid. The 21 year old dog, called Merrick, was blind, deaf and suffered from dementia according to the owner. After a windstorm blew open a gate in Merrick’s yard, she wandered out. When she saw the police cruiser, she apparently ambled toward it before she was violently tortured to death.

The killing was caught on a cellphone video which was spread on social media. It caused a public outcry which resulted in the police having to admit that the animal was a pet dog, not a coyote.


The police commander wants to remind everyone that Merrick looked like a coyote. And as far as the standard police response to a report of a roaming coyote being Brutalize First, ID Later, that’s still fly:

The OPP “remain committed to destruction of wildlife that is an imminent threat to public safety,” the statement said.

To be clear, the “destruction” the Ontario police is committed to involves slow and deliberate cruelty to animals. Which sounds so crimey. Especially when it’s based on what the victim looks like. In the dark. From inside the car.

The historically awful Ontario SPCA has received requests from the public to investigate but has declined to lift a finger.  Police will investigate themselves in the matter.

(Thanks Jan for the link.)

Thoughts on Cecil

Regardless of where one falls on the rather broad spectrum of views on hunting, I think nearly everyone agrees that poachers – those who hunt animals illegally – are the worst of the worst.  Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer is a poacher, having plead guilty in 2008 to a felony related to a bear he illegally killed in Wisconsin.

Earlier this month, Palmer paid professional hunting guides $55,000 so he could go to Zimbabwe and kill a lion with a crossbow.  Palmer and his guides tied a dead animal to the back of their vehicle and scented an area just outside Hwange National Park to lure the lion out of the protected area at night.  The 13 year old lion, a beloved tourist attraction named Cecil who was wearing a GPS collar and being monitored by researchers from Oxford University, followed the scent out of the park and onto private property where Palmer lay in wait.  Palmer reportedly shot Cecil with an arrow and the lion fled in terror.  Palmer and his guides tracked the injured lion for 2 days and finally killed him with a rifle.  He then allegedly tried to destroy Cecil’s tracking collar, cut off his head and skinned him, leaving the headless, skinless remains to rot:

The hunt was illegal, according to Zimbabwe parks authorities, who say that the hunter and the landowner did not have permits to kill a lion. The landowner and professional guide accompanying Palmer will face court in early August for poaching charges[.]

Calls for the prosecution of Palmer have been swift and numerous.  In a statement, Palmer threw his guides under the bus and claimed he didn’t know Cecil was collared until after he finished killing him.  His statement fails to address why at that point he didn’t report the killing to authorities but instead went ahead with the beheading and skinning of Cecil.

Trophy hunting is big business and Americans make up the vast majority of trophy hunters.  Lion “trophies” get sent to the U.S. more than any other place in the world.  And some conservationists support trophy hunting as a means to manage and fund conservation efforts.

I don’t know if Walter Palmer is concerned about conservation work or whether he has ever used his money to help animals stay alive.  In researching this post, I found that in 2009, he paid $127,500 and agreed to undergo sexual harassment training to settle a claim filed against him by a female employee who said she “was subjected to verbal comments and physical conduct involving her breasts, buttocks, and genitalia.”  In 2012, he donated $5000 to the presidential election campaign of fellow animal abuser Mitt Romney.  I did not find any record of Palmer funding conservation efforts directly.

Whether one supports or condemns trophy hunting, it is legal and will continue to take place, courtesy of rich Americans mostly.  Poaching of course is illegal but it too will continue so long as there is someone with cash in hand.  On Monday, under cover of darkness, poachers killed an adult female elephant and 4 of her offspring in Tsavo West National Park in Kenya, hacked off their tusks then escaped on motorcycles.  The story barely made the news.

In the midst of all the back and forth over the sinister killing of Cecil, many people have been deeply moved.  Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel choked up on live television when talking about the story.  An interview with Ernest Small, an academic who specializes in biodiversity revealed that, despite understanding the science behind the emotional reaction to Cecil’s death, even he feels upset:

“I was disgusted frankly. If there was a lynch mob I’d probably join it,” he said, acknowledging the irony.

Our relationship with animals is complicated.  I don’t have any particular wisdom to impart regarding Cecil and I am just as sad and angry as everyone else.  I don’t think that signing a petition or making a donation is going to make me feel better although I’m certainly not opposed to either.  Being human is a heavy burden and a great responsibility.  Animals have always made that burden easier for me and in return, I try to be as compassionate and respectful as possible.  It’s not enough and it doesn’t negate the Walter Palmers of the world, but it’s something.  And something beats the hell out of nothing any day of the week.  Where there’s life, there’s hope.

Cecil with a lioness.  (Photo by Brent  Stapelkamp)

Cecil with a lioness. (Photo by Brent Stapelkamp)

Orange Co ACOs Under Investigation After Cutting Deer’s Throat

On the night of September 29, California veterinarian Kathleen Johnson and her husband were walking their dogs when they came upon a deer whose rear leg was impaled on a wrought iron fence.  He was hanging upside down, screaming and thrashing.  Dr. Johnson called 911, assessed the deer and waited on Orange Co ACOs to arrive.  When they did, she introduced herself as a vet and explained that the deer could be saved.  The ACOs said the deer should be killed.  Although the vet disagreed, she asked if they had euthanasia drugs with them.  They told her no and she offered to get some from her home which was nearby.  They refused.

The ACOs hogtied the injured deer, who was still hanging upside down and thrashing, and pulled out a knife to cut off his leg:

“I told them it was inhumane to cut off the buck’s leg while he was still alive without any anesthesia,” Johnson said. “The officer told me, ‘What does it matter, he’s going to be euthanized anyway?’”

Dr. Johnson offered to have her husband cut the fence but the ACOs told her to leave, threatening to let the deer to suffer in pain and do nothing at all so long as she was there.  After she left the ACOs slit the deer’s throat and watched him to bleed to death.

Dr. Johnson filed an animal cruelty complaint with Orange Co Animal Care:

Scott Weldy, a Lake Forest veterinarian who for years has helped Fish and Wildlife officers as well as animal control officers deal with wildlife, was called to do a report on the buck’s death.

When Weldy and fellow veterinarian Kristian Krause went to perform the necropsy, they were horrified. The buck’s front legs were tied together and one hind leg was attached to his neck.

Dr. Weldy characterized the suffering endured by the deer after his throat was slit as “inhumane and unbearable.”  The two ACOs have been on paid leave since October 1.  The Orange Co DA is investigating but the results of the investigation sound like a foregone conclusion:

“Whether you agree with what they did or not, it’s not a crime,” said Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff at the District Attorney’s Office.

If that’s the case I imagine Ms. Schroeder will have no problem pointing out the applicable statute which states that ACOs can hack up animals with knives as they see fit.

Mercifully, it sounds like there is at least one person willing to do his job in Orange Co:

County Supervisor Todd Spitzer has been investigating this on his own since being notified by Johnson.

“County training does not authorize the slitting of an animal’s throat so it can bleed out slowly,” Spitzer said. “It’s inhumane and unconscionable with folks we want in the county dealing with animals.”

Yeah, that would be like the minimum requirement for an ACO I would think:  the not cutting animals thing.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Feds Round Up Geese Families and Gas Them

The next time you see a cat hater spewing misinformation about how cats kill zillions of birds, remind them of the verifiable fact that the US government killed 4 million animals, mostly birds, last year.  That number includes tens of thousands of beautiful Canadian geese.

The government’s only criteria for killing appears to be a complaint from someone/anyone describing the birds as a nuisance.  And the killing is done in the cruelest of ways, as detailed in this recent story from Youngstown, Ohio.

Goslings [Image via Wikipedia]

Goslings [Image via Wikipedia]

Two hundred thirty-eight adult geese and their babies were targeted for extermination at Mill Creek Park.  Wildlife officials waited until June to kill the geese since they are most vulnerable at that time – the goslings are too young to fly and the adults have temporarily lost their ability to fly due to molting.  Unable to escape their killers, these adult and baby geese were herded into a chamber and gassed to death – an agonizing way for animals of any age to die.

Let’s be clear:  these are not fabricated numbers based on junk science like the now debunked cat claims, these are government reported numbers of kills.  All done for convenience in the most horrifying manner imaginable.  And paid for by American taxpayers.  The feds seem to have something in common with local government run “shelters” with regard to convenience killing of animals – and that is not a good thing.

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

Potential Good News for Whales (Giant Asterisk)

Warning: Second link contains an image of a dead whale.

Minke whale, [x]

Minke whale, [x]

In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling but this did not prevent countries from hunting whales.  Indeed, a few countries dropped out of the IWC or simply “opted out” of the ban in order to continue killing whales for profit.  The 1986 ban also offered exceptions for aboriginal people, such as those in Alaska, to continue their traditional whale hunts and for the killing of whales in the name of science.  Japan has infamously made use of the scientific research exception, killing hundreds of whales every year, including endangered species.

Australia filed suit against Japan for its whale killing in the United Nations’ International Court of Justice.  This week, the court agreed with Australia that Japan’s whale killings do not appear to be scientific in nature, citing:

  • Japan could use non-lethal methods to collect the data it purportedly seeks.
  • The sample sizes are not justified.
  • There is no time-frame for the research to be concluded.
  • Japan doesn’t talk whale science with other whale scientists.
  • Very little scientific output has been produced as a result of the mass slaughter.

The UN Court determined Japan’s science was not so sciencey and ordered the country to stop hunting Antarctic whales.  Japan says it will comply with the order but Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who regularly eats science whale meat, vowed to “closely examine the ruling and swiftly figure out ways to continue whaling” which doesn’t exactly scream Compliance so much as it does Sinister Scheming 2.0.  The ag minister seems very enthusiastic about continued killings, apparently because science must not be thwarted whale meat is ALL THE DELICIOUS.

There do not appear to be any meaningful repercussions if Japan decides not to comply with the order or comes up with some new loophole to exploit.  And the order only applies to large whales, meaning that Japan’s slaughter of dolphins and small whales in Taiji Cove will continue.  But the ruling is significant in that it calls out fake science (more, please) and puts additional international pressure on Japan to stop the killing, for what it’s worth.

By the way Australia, next time we run into each other I’ll be giving you a long hug, past the point of awkwardness and bordering on creepy.

Zero Dark Thirty: Baby Deer Edition

Nine agents from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and four sheriff’s deputies descended upon a no kill shelter on the Wisconsin-Illinois border last month in response to a report that a baby deer was being cared for there.  Authorities had obtained aerial photographs of the orphaned fawn at the shelter and had staked out the place in order to confirm the animal’s presence.

Yes aerial photos.  Yes stake out.

When they raided the shelter, which apparently lacks the state permit required to house deer, an employee described the heavily armed group as looking “like a S.W.A.T. team”.  The agents “corralled workers near the picnic area and then set out in search of the fawn.”

Authorities located the baby deer, who had been named Giggles due to the laugh-like noises she made.  Shelter staff next saw her limp body in a trash bag, slung over the shoulder of one of the agents.  She had been slated to go to a wildlife rehab center in Illinois the next day.

A local TV news reporter asked DNR Supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer about the overkill:

“Could you have made a phone call before showing up, I mean, that’s a lot of resources,” WISN 12 News investigative reporter Colleen Henry asked.

“If a sheriff’s department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don’t call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up,” Niemeyer said.

Right.  Because a fawn named Giggles drinking out of a baby bottle is exactly like a drug bust.

The shelter’s president says she plans to sue the DNR.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this link.)

Mental Health Break: Question

The idea of bringing extinct animals back to life is intriguing.  We could start with a passenger pigeon.  But what extinct animal(s) would you like to see brought back to roam the earth, if it was possible?  Would your animal of choice be able to literally roam the earth or would diminishing habitat make that implausible?  How would your animal fare with present day humans?

The Dangers to Birds and Small Mammals

If you read recently about the Smithsonian study that stated free roaming cats kill up to 24 billion birds and small mammals annually, you probably had questions.  Some of those questions may have been:

  • WTF?
  • Where can I buy whatever the Smithsonian researchers are smoking?
  • Are there 24 billion bird and mammal skeletons weighed down with wee cement shoes at the bottoms of every river in the United States?

Thankfully, Peter Wolf at Vox Felina has answers to all these questions and more (well, not the second one actually).  His post entitled Garbage In, Garbage Out looks at the research in detail and brings to light various flaws.  Serious flaws.  For example, he notes that the studies referenced in the paper are, in various cases, outdated, imprecise, misrepresented and counted more than once.  Using these studies to extrapolate such things as the number of cats with access to prey and the number of birds and small mammals killed by these cats results in even greater imprecision.  Thus the title of Vox Felina’s post.  And then there is the issue of agenda, specifically to undermine TNR, and the authors’ apparent bias:

[Peter] Marra (a vocal critic of TNR) served as Nico Dauphiné’s advisor at the Smithsonian until October 2011, when she resigned after being found guilty of attempted animal cruelty. And [Tom] Will, also an outspoken critic of TNR, helped Dauphiné land her post-doc fellowship there with a letter of recommendation.* (Her position was funded by USFWS, just as [Scott] Loss’ is today.)

While I am grateful there are smart minds like Peter Wolf willing to put in the work to debunk this study, I think many people will simply apply the common sense test to the outrageous claims made in the paper.  Which is to say, a quick glance at the sky, the trees and the ground reveal that indeed, bird and small mammal populations are thriving.  And cats are not the wildlife mafia.

As one commenter put it on Gawker (Warning:  bad language alert):

right. it’s not fucking encroachment by archer-daniels midland, or death by monsanto poisoned seeds or bayer or ortho pesticides and herbicides, oh no, it couldn’t be those things. it couldn’t fucking be from air, water and soil pollution, fuck no; everyone knows those things are *good* for billions of birds.

it’s frisky the cat. only cats. cats are to blame.

+1 for common sense.

Just let me hobble along please until I reach Normalville.

A Memphis resident trying to help an injured bird reportedly sought assistance from the city but received none. She then reached out to several other local animal agencies and businesses but still found no one willing to help the bird. Ultimately a PETA volunteer in Los Angeles found someone willing to pick up the bird and take him for treatment.

So to clarify, someone from the Memphis pound, who apparently told a police officer the bird would have to be dead before MAS would offer any assistance, was outshone by a volunteer for PETA, one of the killingest animal “shelters” in the country.

Dang, I’d hate to be a bird with a busted wing in Memphis.  I think I’d walk as far as I could get.

SC Animal Control Officer – ah heck, I just don’t know

Image of Charleston ACO hanging a gator by a chokepole from the WCSC website.

When an alligator turned up 1 mile away from the nearest body of water in the parking lot of a store in West Ashley, SC, Charleston AC came to save the day.  And by “save the day”, I mean:  Snare the gator in a chokepole, drag and lift him by said chokepole and place him in an open wire cage directly next to some poor dog the ACO already had on the truck.

It’s all on video (including plenty of ACO asscrack, in case you are watching at work).  It makes me wonder what handling technique this guy used to get the dog into his cage.

(Thanks Liz for sending me this story.)


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