This story relates to America but is still pertinent to animal groups in the UK.
Authorities visited 50-year-old Irene Vandyke's home following a neighbour complaint. The neighbour complained there was an excessive smell of cat urine and faeces seeping into their home. The smell emanating from Vandyke's ‘squalid’ home, in Wright, near Albany, New York, was overpowering. What they discovered was shocking.
The woman had 67 dead cats stored in plastic bags in her freezer. The smell of cat urine and faeces came from another 99 felines living in stacked crates. The cats were living in cramped conditions, housed in small cages.
Schoharie county sheriff Tony Desmond said Ms Vandyke may now face criminal charges. "We felt sorry for her and bad for the kittens at the same time", he told the Times Union of Albany. The Sheriff will meet with local prosecutors next week to decide whether or not to charge Vandyke. Although he expressed empathy with the woman he is hoping the District Attorney will prosecute.
The dead cats will be examined in an attempt to determine the cause of death. The Animal Shelter of Schoharie is temporarily caring for the rescued cats. Kerrie Colin, the manager of the animal shelter told the media that she knew Vandyke had a ‘cat crisis’. He had in fact known this for two years. Ms Vandyke had refused all offers of help.
Vandyke visited the shelter in the past for offers of help. She accepted food for the cats. However when workers at the shelter tried to persuade her to hand over some of cats she ‘freaked out’ Visitors to her home who tried to coax her to surrender some of the cats, were hastily shown the door. Consequently Ms Vandyke stopped visiting the shelter.
Mr Kerrie said "She definitely had a hoarder mentality. She's not a horrible person. She just needs help and counselling."
According to The Times Union, "The excessive collecting of items, frequently animals, is also called compulsive hoarding syndrome. It is a psychological affliction often related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. In severe forms, psychological treatment is recommended".
Ms Vandyke was widowed in December 2010. She works for a local Walmart.
Whilst Ms Vandyke may need help and counselling she should also face a prosecution. A stark message needs to be sent out to others. Whether she was misguided, foolish, mentally unstable or cruel, the outcome for the cats has been pretty much the same. More than one hundred cats have suffered.
Perhaps what is most surprising, though, is why the shelter did not act sooner? Mr Kerrie told media sources he had known of her problems for two years. Surely an animal shelter’s priority should be the animals not their owner? Had he acted sooner he may have helped both.
The images show the cats in cramped conditions although they do not appear mistreated. Whether they lived 24/7 in the cages is not known. The surviving cats are receiving medical treatment.
When the rescued cats have recovered and been given a clean bill of health they will be available for adoption.
Animal Shelter of Schoharie Valley website
Times Union of Albany, SkyNews
June 30, 2012, we reported that a proposed badger cull in the UK was facing a legal challenge. DEFRA argued that a cull was vital to curb the spread of TB in British cattle. The UK badger Trust's position was that such a cull would hardly improve the situation and could in fact make matters worse.
Today July 12, 2012, the legal challenge failed and the cull will be able to go ahead.
A pilot scheme will be begin killing the Badgers in Autumn 2012. It is expected that thousands of Badgers will die during the culls.
The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), commented that they are pleased with the outcome of the judicial review. A DEFRA spokesperson said that culling the badgers was the only way. Over 26,000 Cattle were slaughtered in the UK in 2011 as a result of bovine TB. DEFRA's stance remains that the badger cull is vital to curb the spread of the disease.
Vaccination programs are costly but for many they would be the way forward. Veterinarians involved in current vaccination programs believe that a mixture of vaccination and culling when necessary would work better.
Perhaps much depends if those who want the cull are prepared to work that bit harder to save Badgers, and presumably they are not. Not so long ago in the UK Badger numbers were in decline. Now it seems those unique creatures could find their numbers decimated.
Usually the Badger Trust would have up to 21 days to appeal against today's decision but they have only been given seven days. Some people must be keen for the killing to begin.
Note: In Wales plans to cull badgers have been dropped.
Tags: UK badger cull, legal challenge fails, killing badgers, bovine TB, TB in UK cattle, spread of TB in UK
On June 14, 2012, we reported on Lennox the dog who was facing being put to sleep because of the breed authorities believed him to be. Sadly today he was euthanised by order of the Belfast authority.
The plight of Lennox and his owners touched many people around the World. Yes people die in horrible circumstances all the time. Yes too many animals are treat abominably constantly. That does not detract from the injustice of killing Lennox.
Lennox was not a rogue dog. He was not a dog who roamed the Belfast streets terrorising citizens. He had committed no crime.
He was in appearance however one of the banned breed of dogs.
Lennox had a loving home with responsible owners. He was snatched by council dog wardens who believed he was a pit bull type of dog. There followed a long battle to free Lennox. A page on Facebook was dedicated to the fight to save Lennox. Petitions gathered thousands of signatures and a long legal challenge was launched. In the end it was all in vain. The Belfast authorities all along wanted Lennox dead and they achieved that in the end.
The owners of Lennox had been prepared to get Lennox rehomed in another country where his appearance would not have been his death sentence. This was not allowed.
Sadly for Lennox the last two years have involved neglect as he waited his fate. He will have wondered where his "family" were during those long days and nights. If you are an animal lover you will kn ow exactly how those involved in the fight to save Lennox feel. If you are not then I feel sorry for you.
Dogs often bring so much into a person's life. They are usually a loyal member of the household.
It is time to address animal cruelty and untrained dogs rather than continuing with the breed specific legislation. Rogue dogs are rogue dogs for many reasons, more often than not due to their irresponsible owners.
7-year-old Lennox was put down today, July 11, 2012, when the deadline for further appeals passed.
Lennox paid the price of ill though out legislation. It will not prevent rogue dogs but has broken the hearts of a family.
Tags: Lennox put down, Lennox put to sleep, Belfast authority, breed specific legislation, pit bull type of dog,dogs, euthanize
"Thank you for your contacting me recently regarding the EU Directive on Animal Experimentation and the impact this could have on animal experiments in the UK.
I am pleased that the UK currently has some of the strongest laws on animal experimentation in the EU. Indeed, the principle UK legislation covering experimentation, the 1986 UK Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, has been supported by researchers, successive governments and welfare groups such as the RSPCA.
Across the EU, however, animal experimentation regulations are far more variable and I am pleased that after eight years of discussion and debate a new EU Directive was published in October 2010 that outlines common standards for animal experimentation across the EU.
The new EU Directive should serve to raise animal experimentation standards in much of the EU but I appreciate that, as some parts of the Directive impose lower standards than are currently followed in the UK, a number of animal welfare groups have raised concerns that this could actually lead to UK standards and controls being lowered.
I agree it is vital that UK animal experimentation standards remain high and robust and Labour MEPs supported amendments that would have given greater freedom for Member States to go beyond the new minimum requirements of the Directive.
I am disappointed that this proposal was rejected by the EU Parliament and it is now the responsibility of each individual Member State to interpret how the ruling should be applied to law by 01 January 2013.
The UK Government are currently considering two alternatives: to either transpose the minimum standards outlined in the EU Directive directly into UK law (i.e. where some parts would be lower than current UK requirements), or to retain the current UK guidelines where they are higher.
I agree that it would be quite unacceptable for the UK Government to adopt lower animal experimentation standards and I can assure you that I will follow this consultation and the Government's response closely."
We maintain that the only option for the UK is to hang on to our current standards or implement higher ones. We too will be keeping an eye on this one and we hope readers will do the same.
Linda McEvan MEP wrote
"I fully share your concerns and was also extremely disappointed with the Home Office' plans for incorporating the new EU directive on animal experiments into UK law.
As you may be aware, MEPs and national governments adopted an EU law on the protection of animals used in for scientific purposes in 2010. While this law represents a significant advance for many Member States and will lead to improvements for tens of thousands of animals across the EU, Labour MEPs abstained in the. final vote, as we were disappointed that it did not allow individual governments the flexibility to subsequently adopt higher welfare standards than those set out in the legislation.
However, importantly, it does not prevent countries from maintaining higher standards where these already exist. As the Directive was adopted at EU level, the responsibility for transposing the legislation rests with Member States. They have until November 2012 to transpose the Directive in order to be able to apply the individual provisions as of 1st January 2013. The UK has two options for implementing the Directive:
The first option would be to "copy out" the Directive as it is.
Transposing the minimum requirements of the Directive would however risk weakening some aspects of the UK legislation, as some of the UK standards are higher than those in the Directive.
The second possibility would be to retain the current UK provisions where they are higher. Article 2 of the Directive is clear on the right of Member States to "maintain provisions... aimed at ensuring more extensive protection of animals falling within the scope of that Directive".
We were shocked to hear that the UK Government was considering the first option, which would lower our high standards. I was especially concerned about proposals which could lead to abandoning the current protection for stray pets. We believe that where the UK has standards higher than those of the Directive, the UK must not lower its own standards. However we have just learned that under pressure from the Animal Welfare NGOs such as the BUAV, the UK Government has revised its statement to say that they "could not currently envisage" allowing tests on stray cats and dogs.
As this is an issue facing the UK Parliament, I would suggest that you write to the responsible Minister, Lynne Featherstone, to call for the proper transposition of the EU Directive in order to maintain high UK welfare standards."
We will now write to Ms Featherstone and urge readers to do the same. This report has been lengthy, for which we apologise. It is however vital that the message gets out and people act before it is too late. If standards of animal welfare are lowered it will cause untold suffering. Do the British want that? I doubt it.
Aapart from lobbying your own MP, we have been informed that the person to contact in government in relation to this important issue is Ms Lynne Featherstone. Best get writing folks" email address: Lynne@LynneFeatherstone.org
Thanks to Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Linda McEvan MEP for their full and prompt replies
Related reading http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-18617561
Animals matter the world over.