Friday, August 15, 2014

Random thoughts about cat bites, attacks and injustice

senior cat carboard scratching posts
It's been a weird and wild few weeks at the Dion household, and it's left me feeling deeply unsettled, about the health and future of my own cats, and about the protections we provide for cats in my community. Some of the things I'll mention here I had hoped to get covered in the mainstream media, but despite some pretty intense efforts, I didn't get any responses. So I'll do my best to cover it myself. Here goes.

Last week, Beorn came home with a nasty-looking abscess on his chin, and that ugly sore came about due to some sort of animal bite. Off to the vet we went, and it was a rough visit, as Beorn is really old and he's in the end stages of kidney failure. Major abscess surgeries are risky, as a result, so I had a lot to worry about.

But as I was waiting for a call from the operating room, I also felt really lucky. Why? Because one of my neighbors lost her cat to an animal bite last week, and the response she got from the authorities in the aftermath of the attack was less than reassuring.

Here's what I can piece together. Her cat (which was named Seamus, but I called him Sumo, due to his girth) was a free roamer. He came into my yard on occasion, and he played around with our cats and dogs with no problems. Last week, he wandered into another yard that held a very aggressive dog owned by people who allegedly knew that he was a danger to dogs, cats and children. Even so, they tied this dog out in the yard with no muzzle, and that dog attacked and killed our Sumo.

The neighbor, not surprisingly, was an absolute mess about this, and I encouraged her to call the police. I had done the same the week prior, and the results were pretty spectacular.

On that day, two pit bulls got loose in our neighborhood and they attacked a small dog, Lilly, while she was cowering in her owner's arms as he stood in his yard. I called the police, out they came and a formal report was filed. It's unclear what will happen to the attacking dogs, but it's clear to me that the officers who responded were concerned and that some sort of response was in play. They'd handle it.

When my neighbor called about Sumo, she was told that a dog killing a cat was akin to a cat killing a mouse. It wasn't something worth responding to.

I was shocked about that, but when I looked at the Marion County dog statues, I'm astonished to see that this is true. If Sumo had been a chicken, a rabbit or a ferret, there would be protections. If Sumo had been a dog, there would have been recourse. But since he's a cat, his death is invisible.

Now, I know these two cases aren't 100 percent similar. The little dog was mauled by loose dogs, and that attack took place on the little dog's turf. Sumo was a trespasser, and his killer was on his own land (from what I understand). But it gets me that the laws just aren't the same. Shouldn't they be? Shouldn't the death of a cat be some sort of harbinger that the dog is dangerous, and shouldn't the owners be somehow convinced to keep said dog in a bit of a safer place? After all, a dangerous dog on a tether isn't really all that protected from doing this sort of thing again. What if the next animal is a dog? Or a child?

Beorn is back home, and he is recovering. He made it through his surgery just fine, and we're adding delicious foods to his plate to help him gain weight. We're also giving him free access to cat products similar to the The Original Scratch Lounge - Worlds Best Cat Scratcher. But, I'm also incredibly vigilant about where he goes these days, and he's locked up tight at night. I'm also keeping the front door open, so I can watch for marauding dogs as they parade up and down this street. If the laws don't protect my cats, and it seems like they don't, I suppose I have no other choice.

And to me, that's a problem.

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