Frank died first, from sheer neglect. Soon after, Norman died, his sick body riddled with infection. I begged for Frank to be saved, but failed to persuade thousands of readers. I made a place for Norman in my home in New Mexico, but he never made it out of New York alive. I write this even more wounded than before, still more contemptuous of the human species, but also determined to fight harder, once the well of tears runs dry.
Many of my Facebook acquaintances will remember the evening of Sunday January 29th, when I again sounded a distress signal over the plight of cats at the NYC Animal Care (!) and Control.
As listed on the Facebook page, Pets on Death Row, that night, I had seen an inordinate amount of cats listed at 6 pm, who were to be killed by the next morning — such a generous window of time provided by heartless murderers and soulless bureaucrats. I singled out Frank, a stunning calico, and Norman, another beauty, because he looked like my feline soulmate, Willis.
Sunday night, I pleaded far and wide for people to save Frank, while I worked with PJ McKosky, an amazing activist who volunteers for Empty Cages Collective, to save Norman, before NYC ACC could murder him and countless other cats by Monday morning. As they do day after day, like clockwork, and with as much emotion.
I was elated that PJ was able to pull Norman, as I agreed to have him shipped to my home in New Mexico, and thought for sure that someone would save the incomparable Frank. But no one did, and on Monday morning, I learned the awful news that Frank was murdered — right on schedule.
Consumed with grief and guilt over Frank, I awaited news about Norman’s condition. Norman’s medical chart revealed he had infections (which virtually every cat picks up within hours once they land the filthy NYC ACC) and other problems. Later Monday morning, PJ got Norman off death row and to a veterinary clinic to treat his inner and outer infections.
I waited anxiously for two more days about Norman’s status, and on Wednesday, February 1, PJ called me with more horrifying news. Norman was so sick, so labored in breathing, so filled with tumors, that he was not expected to live for another hour and PJ made the only logical choice, to euthanize Norman.
Never would we meet eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart; never would I wake in the morning to his warm body and loud purr; never would Norman play in the alfalfa fields and the warm sun of New Mexico; never would he meet his feline and human family anxiously awaiting him.
NYC ACC is not the worst “shelter” in the country, but it is not far behind. Between the filthy and disease-ridden environmental conditions, an uncaring staff, and bureaucratic procedures that place countless obstacles in the path of a successful adoption, it is a hell for cats and dogs and a disgrace on the entire city of New York. The surly and vengeful staff seem positively duty-bound to kill perfectly healthy and adoptable cats, as they will just to spite someone who doesnt show proper deference to the executioners.
I intend to do my part to radically transform this fetid swamp of bureaucratic indifference. Typically, here as in so many other places, animals are worth more dead than alive and driving the use of needles instead of adoption programs is the profit motive and financial benefits for the administrators and underlings of NYC’s Animal Auschwitz.
I urge everyone to donate to the Empty Cages Collective so that they may continue their wonderful adoption work.
Those who would like to complain to the Mayor of New York and other related parties, and promise to never visit such a barbaric city until they move toward a real No Kill Shelter policy and raze NYC ACC to the ground and rebuild it from scratch, you may contact them through this form.
Two or three decades ago, before the problem of factory farming and the scores of billions of slaughtered “farmed animals” moved to the forefront of attention of huge swaths of the animal advocacy movement, the overpopulation and suffering of cats and dogs occupied a more central focus. The situation has improved in some ways, most noticeably with the emergence of a No Kill movement sweeping countries like the US. But in other ways the situation is deteriorating. In my own nearby city of El Paso, Texas alone, for instance, over 20,000 cats and dogs are murdered every year, and El Paso pledged to go “No Kill” in 2007! HSUS, PETA, and the ASPCA, to name just some of the largest and most culpable groups, are absolutely kill-happy and show little more regard for life than hunters, vivisectors, or the hired assasins who enter slaughterhouses like NYC ACC to murder innocents non-stop from early morning to late afternoon.
Of course a huge part of the problem is the power of the cat and dog breeding industry, and for every animal bred by these unconscionably greedy profiteers, another one dies in a “shelter.” The breeding industry must be abolished, completely shut down, ripped up, and shredded, home by home, operation by operation, cage by cage, and by any means necessary. Their criminal names, addresses, and phone numbers must be collected, published, and distributed, and every goddamn inseminator and impregnator must feel the full fury of activist wrath and death row animals’ fear until they wither under the pressure and close down their despicable trafficking in suffering forever.
Lest we forget, the “euthanasia” of millions of homeless yet beautiful and loving cats and dogs every year is a significant part of the ongoing animal holocaust unfolding on this planet and growing at alarming rates every year.
According to one widely cited statistic, 6-8 million cats and dogs enter US animal shelters ever year, and of those, 4-5 million are killed for lack of adoptable homes (or, I should say, for lack of aggressive adoption programs to available homes).
But this story is not about the millions of animals who needlessly die each year in the US alone, nor certainly is it an analysis of the full complexity of the “pet overpopulation” problem, let alone a solution to it.
This story is about two cats, Norman and Frank, two gorgeous, loving, and tragic victims of a dark and demented human species; of its unlimited capacity for detachment, apathy, and violence; and of its innumerable industries of killing, torture, and barbarity.
This story is not about abstract symbols that represent or symbolize larger issues, but rather two irreducibly concrete, flesh and blood beautiful beings, who live in perfect form forever in my memory but in truth are now incinerated ash.
This story is about one man, me, and my deep grief and heartbreak; it concerns my resolve to work even harder to abolish the murderous systems of speciesist oppression and stop the animal holocaust that has soaked the earth in blood for over ten thousand years.
It is about my compassion for two stirring animals whom I never met, but that I deeply loved. It is about a world which is less beautiful without the loving and beatific presence of Norman and Frank. It is about their loss, my loss, and how the death of every animal diminishes all of us in ways we will never fully understand.
It is about amazing rescue activists like PJ, who confront the worst of humanity every day, but live for the smiles and joy of the animals they do save and the loving families to whom they entrust.
I cannot adequately describe my heavy heart; my deep despair; and my blurry, tear-soaked eyes. I cannot say enough, Norman and Frank, about the love I have for you, about how deeply I mourn your passing, and how much I would sacrifice to watch you play in the boundless grassy fields and the shadows of green and purple mountains.
Goodbye, dear friends, goodbye, you have touched me forever and will live always deep in my heart. No human can match the poetry of your soul, the grace of your body, and the beauty of your eyes. You are singular, stellar, inimitable, and unsurpassable.