That winner-at-life is 21-year-old Mylo Latour, who used a sword to attack a kitten and said the experience was “magic,” according to Pennsylvania State Police.
Latour, who lives in York, Pa — a city of 44,000 in southern Pennsylvania, about 50 miles north of Baltimore — is accused of slashing his sister’s kitten, Mittens.
Latour told the cops he killed the baby cat because “it came into his room and it had power over him,” adding “my eyes dilated and I chopped it with my sword. It was magic.”
Mittens “had injuries consistent with disembowelment,” according to WHTM, a local ABC affiliate. Paperwork from an arrest report reviewed by the TV news station noted “there appeared to be a clean cut to the rear of the cat’s body.”
Latour was charged with cruelty to animals, a second-degree misdemeanor in the Pennsylvania penal code. That’s a charge on par with shoplifting, bigamy or stealing property worth less than $200. If he’s convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of $5,000 and up to a year in jail.
A more severe charge, aggravated cruelty to animals, does exist in the state. It’s defined as torturing an animal or “causing serious bodily injury to the animal or the death of the animal.” It’s not clear why Latour was hit with the lesser charge, and only one of more than a half dozen media reports specifies the charge against him.
We’ll keep an eye on this case and update accordingly.
A California biologist who shot and killed 13 cats as part of a “predator management program” referred to the felines’ corpses as “party favors” in a celebratory email to colleagues, according to a copy of the email.
David “Doc Quack” Riensche, a senior wildlife biologist with California’s East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), used a 12-gauge shotgun under cover of night to shoot the cats, documents obtained from the EBRPD show.
Riensche and EBRPD knew the felines were part of a colony near Oakland Coliseum managed by Cecelia Theis, a local woman who provided them with veterinary care, food, water and conducted TNR (trap, neuter, return) services to prevent the colony’s population from growing.
They did not warn Theis that they were going to cull the colony late last year, nor did they reach out to contacts in the area’s extensive local shelter and rescue network to trap and remove the strays, despite repeatedly stating that shooting cats is an absolute “last resort.”
“Good morning Lisa and Jeff,” the email from Riensche reads, dated Nov. 18, 2020. “I recently cleaned up more than a ‘bakers dozen’ of party favors in this resource protection area. With the conclusion of this wildlife management action, I am seeing some really good birds starting to re-colonize the area with the limiting factors now removed. Have a great week.”
Riensche, who disposed of the dead cats in trash bags that he tossed into a bin, signed off the email about the dead cats with a smiling emoji.
Although Riensche uses coded language in the email, the district’s own records, Riensche’s overtime statements for overnight hours, timestamped audio of dispatch calls and EBRPD’s own timeline of the cat killings all line up with the date of Riensche’s email and a spreadsheet documenting when and where Riensche shot the colony cats.
Tiffany Ashbaker, a volunteer with Alameda’s Island Cat Resource and Adoption, said she was horrified when she read Riensche’s email describing the dead cats as “party favors.”
“I was disgusted. Way beyond hurt,” said Ashbaker, who helped Theis trap, neuter, vaccinate and relocate the Oakland colony cats. “I find this to be unethical and he should be removed from his position at EBRPD because of it. I understand why we should try to have cats further away from the protected areas, but how they handled this was eye opening for sure.”
The cats lived between two auto dealerships in an industrial area separate from the MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline, a park in Oakland managed by the EBRPD. When Theis returned to the area to feed the cats on Nov. 3 2020, she realized several were missing. Over the following days more cats began to disappear, Theis and Ashbaker noted.
When Theis asked EBRPD about the whereabouts of the colony cats, a district staffer told her EBRPD wasn’t involved and didn’t remove any cats. EBRPD then amended its response, saying it had trapped the cats and brought them to local shelters.
But none of the local shelters had any records of taking cats from EBRPD, nor did they have the missing cats in their care.
EBRPD admits its biologist killed colony cats
Theis went to KGO, a local ABC News affiliate, and when a reporter began asking questions about the missing cats, a spokesman for the district finally admitted one of its employees — later identified in documents as Riensche — had shot the cats as part of the “predator management program.”
Theis said she felt “a horrible feeling in my gut” when she realized why the usually friendly strays and former pets of the colony were suddenly skittish. Riensche shot the colony cats over a series of nights, returning to the park in the late hours with a shotgun to kill two or three at a time.
Theis said she now understands why the remaining cats were so fearful and skittish when she came by for their regular feedings. One cat named Sherbert jumped on her car hood, and two others meowed insistently at Theis, “trying to tell me.”
“I feel this horrific feeling that they went through terror and were trying to tell me,” Their said. “They weren’t eating like they did usually.”
Some EBRPD board members have expressed sympathy for what happened, Theis said, but she described being “depressed” and worried because the district won’t give her any guarantees that it won’t kill more cats.
“We feel horrible about this, you know, this is really one thing that’s just really sad,” Matt Graul, the EBRPD’s chief of stewardship, told KGO in December, after the public first learned the cats had been shot.
Despite that, EBRPD ignored public records requests from the TV news station, and a spokesman for the district defended the cat culling, saying it was necessary to protect endangered birds who winter in the nearby marshlands.
Stray and feral cats “are not part of a healthy eco-system” EBRPD spokesman Dave Mason said, claiming his agency was protecting endangered wildlife in the area.
Public and animal rights groups demand an end to cat killing practice
After intense public backlash, including a petition with 70,000 signatures protesting EBRPD’s actions, several district board members were quoted in media reports saying they would end the practice of killing cats and would demand an investigation. Almost five months later, the district is instead moving ahead with a plan to contract cat-killing (and the culling of other animals like foxes and opossums) to a federal agency, and there has been no investigation.
Ashbaker, Theis, the non-profits In Defense of Animals and Alley Cat Allies, and local shelters have all demanded EBRPD stop killing animals entirely. District officials continue to argue it’s necessary to protect endangered birds, despite a lack of scientific evidence supporting the idea that arbitrarily shooting animals has any measurable impact on bird populations.
EBRPD has made one concession: It’s promised to reach out to rescues and shelters in the area for help removing cats before making the decision to deal with them lethally.
“While we’re pleased that the policy seems to be to work with local advocates as to prefer not to killing cats, we want to see a pledge that this never happens, ever again,” Fleur Dawes of In Defense of Animals said in February.
The district “should have been up front from the beginning, saying ‘This wasn’t what should have happened, [so] let’s make it right,'” Ashbaker said.
EBRPD has been unable to provide proof that the cats were killing birds on the marsh or that Riensche shot the cats on district property.
In response to a public records request for any documentation of cats preying on birds in the marshlands, EBRPD produced a single document from 1992, noting one incident with one cat about 35 miles south of the MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline where Riensche shot 13 cats in late 2020. During a survey some time before 1992, an EBRPD employee saw an example of “[California Clapper] rail predation” by “what we determined was a feral cat, in a marsh in the East Palo Alto area,” where it says “many cats are found.” The document mentions another cat that was sighted swimming “in flooded tidal salt marshes” in south San Francisco Bay, likely “foraging” for an endangered mouse species.
The district has not been able to produce any written guidelines or protocols describing how its employees determine if a cat should be shot instead of being relocated or brought to a local shelter, except for a vague summary of minutes from a 1998 meeting during which they claim the policy was approved.
EBRPD has been unable to produce copies of the cat-killing policy itself, despite several public records requests seeking that document.
In addition, in internal emails after a KGO reporter began asking questions about the cat killings, several EBRPD staffers questioned whether they have any documentation saying cat culling is an acceptable policy.
EBRPD internal discussion: Are we following our own rules?
In those same internal emails, which were obtained from EBRPD via public records requests, staffers wondered if the district was following its own rules requiring it to reach out to local shelter networks and receive approval from federal authorities to kill cats. One EBRPD official, assistant general manager of public affairs Carol Johnson, noted the document EBRPD used as justification “does not mention dispatching these animals,” and requires the district to “work with animal rescue organizations to help trap feral cats.”
“[The] question is, are we following the protocols listed in the document?” Johnson asked her colleagues in a Dec. 2 email. “I would argue we are minimally following through with the organizations and we have nothing to say lethal means is acceptable.”
Internal correspondence among EBRPD staff, obtained via a public records request, show worried staffers searched in vain for a written policy on killing cats before using a Google search to find another agency’s policy.
EBRPD finally produced a copy of minutes from a 1998 meeting with notes attached saying the cat-culling policy had been approved by the board, but if a copy of the policy exists, the district has been unable to produce it.
In December Mason said cats were only shot as a last resort and “[L]ethal removal only happens when feral cats are in the act of hunting wildlife on District property,” but none of the documents say the cats Riensche shot were hunting. Indeed, it would require an extraordinary stroke of luck for the biologist to find 13 cats preying on endangered birds in just a few nights.
Despite public records requests, the EBRPD was unable to provide proof that Riensche had consulted anyone before shooting the cats. Records indicate no one was notified until after Riensche killed the animals.
In addition, the cat colony sat some distance from the protected marshland: An office park, electric car charging station, at least three parking lots and a substantial body of water are between the cat colony’s home and the marshland. That’s a distance considerably longer than most stray and feral cats range from their homes, and domestic cats are notoriously averse to water or getting themselves wet.
Records line up with cat shootings
While Riensche uses coded language by referring to the cats he shot as “party favors” in his email to colleagues, it was sent on Nov. 18, the day after EBRPD’s own records show he killed the last of the colony cats. Internal documents from the EBRPD, obtained through public records requests, as well as the district’s own public timeline of events, show the dates the cats were killed line up with Riensche’s email. In addition, in audio recordings of his radio contact, Riensche advises dispatchers only after he’s fired the killing shots.
“Yeah this is Dave Riensche in wildlife at MLK, I just dispatched an animal down here, so if you get a call, it was me,” Riensche tells a dispatcher in one of the calls on Nov. 13 at 6:24 a.m.
EBRPD’s records show the only animals killed on that day were cats.
(Click the embedded audio to hear Riensche call dispatch on Nov. 13, 2020.)
Finally, according to EBRPD’s records, Riensche received overtime for working on nights that correspond to the same dates EBRPD says the cats were shot. [EBRPD document: TIMECARDS (REDACTED)]
Riensche, who has been employed as a biologist with the district for decades, is a prominent birder whose work involves protecting birds and other endangered species from predators wild and domestic. He penned a newsletter, Bird News, in the early aughts and is on record saying there’s “a wealth of evidence” that stray and feral cats are the primary danger to bird populations.
Shooting cats as a ‘first resort’
Riensche earned $182,951 in salary and benefits in 2019, the most recent year for which salary data is available for public employees in California. Riensche earned a base salary of $90,239 and $56,050 in overtime, including for overnight hours spent shooting animals in EBRPD’s parks.
An Oakland woman who wrote to the EBRPD after the district came clean about the cat killings related an anecdote about Riensche from 2019.
The woman worked with a local rescue that received a call from a parks employee who wanted help trapping and relocating a female cat and her young kittens who were living on or near an EBRPD park. The rescue volunteers were working with the EBRPD employee, making plans for the cat and her babies to be vaccinated and spayed/neutered, and even had homes lined up for some of the kittens, the woman wrote in a Nov. 25 email.
After visitors to the park saw the mother carrying a dead rabbit back to her kittens, “Doc Quack [Riensche] then reportedly told employees he was going to shoot the cats,” the volunteer wrote.
The mother cat “disappeared” and her fate was unknown, but the rescue was able to work with the EBRPD employees to get the kittens trapped. However, Riensche wasn’t happy with that outcome, she wrote.
“I was told later by an employee, that they were reprimanded for saving the cats and going outside of the EB Parks, to get this help,” the woman wrote in her letter to EBRPD. “Apparently, they should have just been quiet and let Doc Quack shoot the cat family.”
The connection between birders and cat killing
Cat killing isn’t unusual among birders. In 2007 a Texas man named James M. Stevenson — founder of the Galveston Ornithological Society — admitted killing dozens of cats on private and public property after coming to believe the cats were killing piping plovers, shorebirds who commonly nested in the area.
In a 1999 posting on an Internet bulletin board for bird lovers, Stevenson nonchalantly described killing many feral cats during his first year living on Galveston Island. He rationalized his acts as a way to restore the natural order.
“I’m sorry if this offends — but I sighted in my .22 rifle, and killed about two dozen cats,” Stevenson wrote in his message, titled “killer kitties; kittie killers.”
“This man has dedicated his whole life to birds,” Stevenson’s attorney said in his defense. The case ended in a mistrial.
Nico Arcilla, then known as Nico Dauphiné, was well known as a birder and outspoken critic of cats. A group of people who cared for strays near Washington’s Meridian Hill Park contacted the Humane Society after noticing food they left out for the cats “would sometimes become covered by a white powdery substance overnight.”
After the Humane Society and Washington police tested the substance and verified it was poison, they set up a stakeout and had cameras trained on the food bowls. Footage, which prosecutors later exhibited on trial, was damning:
“Dauphiné [Arcilla] can be seen approaching the bowl, pulling something out of a small bag, reaching down toward the food twice, and then leaving the scene,” a sciencemag.org report reads. “The next morning, police found the food covered with the same white powder as before, which tested positive as poison.”
[Click here to see video of Arcilla poisoning the cat food.]
Arcilla wasn’t just a prominent birder and anti-cat campaigner — she is a co-author of several frequently-cited studies claiming cats kill billions of birds in the US each year. Those studies, which have been used to justify cat-culling policies around the world, are highly controversial, with critics blasting them for poor methodology, a lack of hard data, and arbitrary numbers plugged in to estimate both the national cat population and the felines’ impact on birds. For example, the authors estimate a national stray and feral cat population between 25 and 125 million, an estimate so vague that any extrapolations based on those numbers are virtually useless.
Riensche has repeatedly cited Arcilla’s work in public and private documents arguing that cats are primarily responsible for declines in bird populations.
The Alabama veterinarian accused of brutalizing a cat he was supposed to be treating pleaded not guilty to criminal charges at his first court hearing on Tuesday, but his legal woes are far from over.
In addition to the two charges of animal cruelty lodged against him by the Ozark Police Department, an ongoing criminal probe and an investigation by the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medicine, veterinarian Richard Timothy Logan now faces a lawsuit from the abused cat’s owners, Richard and Christina Miller.
The 65-year-old veterinarian, who has been practicing animal medicine since 1982, drew the ire of animal rights activists and cat lovers across the country this week after a new video showed a man identified as Logan punching, choking and dropping a cat he was supposed to be treating at the Andrews Avenue Animal Hospital in Ozark, Alabama.
The video shows two separate incidents that happened after the Millers brought their 21-year-old cat, Mimi, in for routine tests and shots in November of 2020.
“(Dr. Logan) is dangling the cat like a hangman’s noose in one video,” said Will Matthews, the Millers’ attorney. “In the other video, he punches the cat as hard as he can punch right in the cat’s mouth.”
The videos, which were combined into one clip, were uploaded by Carrie Pritt, a former employee at the animal hospital.
WTVY, a local news station in Alabama, inexplicably seemed to blame Pritt for the ensuing outrage, saying she “hatched her plan to record Logan after discussing concerns about [him] with friends for several months.”
Hatchedher plan? She recorded the vicious abuse of a cat because she was horrified by what she saw. The fact that she was prepared to record the incident strongly suggests it wasn’t the first of its kind.
The natural question is: What had Logan allegedly done in the past that would prompt Pritt to record him? WTVY didn’t ask that question. Instead, at the behest of Logan’s attorney, David Harrison, the station aired a story saying Pritt had taken her own dog in to be treated by Logan months after the November incident with Mimi the cat.
Here’s the bush league lede from the web version of WTVY’s story:
Though her secret recording led to the arrest of an Ozark veterinarian, a woman apparently trusted that vet enough that she later allowed him to treat her dog. However, her attorney said her dog did not receive treatment, though she went to the clinic.
Matthews, who also represents Pritt, said the former employee stopped by the animal hospital to pick up paperwork and was there less than 10 minutes. Her dog was not treated there, he said.
Several WTVY stories about the incident also include variations of this line: “Videos posted Facebook on or about April 5 by a former clinic employee shows the incidents, though it is not clear if other circumstances contributed.” [Emphasis ours.]
It’s not clear if other circumstances contributed?Can anyone at WTVY give us a single reason why a veterinarian — a man whose job is to treat animals — would punch, slap, drop and choke a cat in his care?
If the man has been in practice since 1982, as his attorney says, then after four decades as a veterinarian, shouldn’t he know how to restrain a scared cat? That’s a basic, essential part of the job, as is basic compassion for scared and suffering animals.
It turns out the TV station was simply parroting Logan’s attorney, who told the station that the video “shows Logan appearing to abuse a cat, though contributing circumstances, if any, are not known.”
Translation from absurd lawyerspeak: Harrison says Logan wasn’t abusing Mimi, he was just “appearing to abuse a cat,” and besides, the cat must have done something to deserve it.
We’re sure that’s very reassuring to Logan’s clients: “Sorry, we had to beat the everliving crap out of your dog because he didn’t like being on the exam table, you know how it is. That’ll be $250 for the examination and another $125 for the blood work.”
Veterinarians take an oath to relieve animal suffering and to protect animal health and welfare. Allegedly abusing a terrified, screaming cat is nowhere in the job description.
If this nasty mess doesn’t prompt you to take a shower, Logan’s attorney garnishes it with the rotten cherry on top by invoking America’s war dead in an outlandish claim that uploading and sharing the video is unlawful. Harrison — who has already said he’s instructed his client to sue everyone who’s posted the video online — doesn’t seem to understand the difference between due process in court and the public’s right to know a veterinarian in their community is allegedly abusing animals.
“1.5 million Americans have died on foreign soil for us to have the right to be innocent until proven guilty,” Harrison told WTVY.
A longtime veterinarian in Alabama has been arrested and charged with animal cruelty for hitting, choking and dropping a terrified cat in his exam room, according to police.
Richard Timothy Logan, 65, is a veterinarian at Andrews Avenue Animal Hospital in Ozark, Alabama.
A man identified as Logan was examining a calico cat in November, in an exam room at the animal hospital when he grabbed the cat by the scruff of her neck and punched her on the top of her head with a closed fist, video of the exam shows. Still holding the cat by her scruff, he slammed her down onto the exam table, then did it again more forcefully.
Logan then swiped the cat off the exam table, causing her to fall to the floor.
Logan steps out of the frame for several seconds, then the video cuts forward, showing Logan again with his hands on the cat as a veterinary assistant holds the terrified, screaming feline down.
He punches the cat a second time, makes an annoyed gesture, then picks the cat up by her collar and dangles her as she struggles.
Animal rights activists and local people outraged by the video protested outside Andrews Avenue Animal Hospital this week, holding signs of the abused calico and demanding the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medicine — which is conducting its own investigation separate from the criminal probe — revoke Logan’s license.
“We’re hoping for awareness, first of all, of animal abuse and we’re hoping that Dr. Logan will lose his license,” cat owner Rhonda Eller told Alabama’s Dothan Eagle. “There should not be veterinarians that don’t love animals and care for animals. Obviously, they should choose a different profession.”
Some of the protesters were clients of the animal hospital, and were alarmed not only by what they saw on the video — which was anonymously posted to Facebook on April 5 — but what may have happened behind closed doors when they brought their own pets in.
“I’ve been coming here so long, leaving my animals overnight [or] for a week when he said they needed it,” Michele Brown, a client of the hospital, told the Eagle. “What has happened to my animals while they were here and I never knew it?”
Neither Logan nor the animal hospital have issued public statements on the allegations, but Logan’s attorney, David Harrison, is acting as if the video does not show his client terrorizing a cat who was supposed to be in his care.
“He is a good veterinarian and people are destroying this man’s reputation,” Harrison told WTVY, an Alabama local news station. “I have instructed Dr. Logan to file a lawsuit against all who have smeared lies on social media. Facebook is not a court of law.”
Logan was charged with two counts of cruelty to animals.
Under Alabama law, if Logan is convicted, the most severe potential sentence is a $3,000 fine and up to one year in county jail. Because he doesn’t have priors, if he’s convicted he’s not likely to serve any jail time. Animal cruelty is a misdemeanor in Alabama’s penal code.
In the meantime, comments from Dale County District Attorney Kirke Adams do not sound promising.
“While this video is deeply concerning, I would like to take this opportunity to implore people to have this same concern over child victim crimes and gun violence,” Adams said, appearing to downplay the severity of the allegations against Logan.
The cat “is alive and doing better with its owner,” Ozark police wrote in a statement posted to Facebook. Cops say they’ve interviewed the owner as well as “other witnesses.” It’s not clear if those witnesses include the veterinary tech who was present or other employees at the animal hospital, nor did police say who filmed the abuse.
Top photo: Richard Timothy Logan mugshot courtesy Ozark Police Department
A protester at Andrews Avenue Animal Hospital
A protester stands outside of Andrews Avenue Animal Hospital in Ozark, Alabama, this week.
Coronavirus. Unprecedented income inequality. Instability. Millions of religious minorities wasting away in Chinese government concentration camps.
The world is a mess right now and sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start, but thankfully Jamie Lynn Spears — unintelligible mumbler, erstwhile country music singer and younger sister of Britney — is here to set our priorities straight.
“The Tesla is a secret cat killer, and it’s a problem that we really gotta fix,” a purple-haired Spears told her followers in a video she uploaded to Instagram a few days ago.
“We have now lost — I don’t want to tell you how many cats — because they don’t hear the Tesla crank and unfortunate things happen and it’s really devastating and tragic for everyone involved,” Spears said.
Perfectly understandable. I mean, who doesn’t run over a cat or six while backing out of the driveway? And who wants to be bothered with actually caring for cats and keeping them indoors when you can tell your 2.1 million Instagram followers that a corporation is at fault?
“Like, one of those noises”
Thankfully, Jamie Lynn has a solution, which she also shared with her followers.
“So since the Tesla is so quiet, maybe you could, like, make one of those noises that, like, bother cat or animal ears when it cranks up, so that, like, they know something’s happening and they aren’t caught off guard, and things don’t end in a very tragic way,” Spears continued, indicating she’s spent a lot of time ruminating on this issue. “So, Elon Musk, let’s figure this out, B, because you owe me a couple of cats.”
Like other celebrities, Spears was apparently expecting to air her thoughts and have the entire internet break into a slow clap and say “You’re so right! Hooray for you!” And like other celebrities, Spears deleted the video and furiously backpedaled when people started questioning her claims.
The first thing people wanted to know was: Just how many cats did Jamie Lynn lose to Evil Elon Musk and the Teslarizer?
Was it 1) “I don’t want to tell you how many cats” as Spears first indicated, 2) “A couple of cats” as Spears claimed in a follow-up video, or 3) Zero cats, as Spears claimed in a follow-up post to her follow-up video?
After looking into the camera and flatly declaring that Elon Musk owes her “a couple cats,” as if they’re replaceable products, Spears wrote that she “did not run over any cats” and Tesla is “not to be blamed.”
Let’s collab, yo. I got mad ideas!
“I was only making a suggestion about something I think would be extremely helpful, and the geniuses at @Teslamotors are the best to go to for said issue,” she concluded, suggesting Tesla should contact her to “collaborate” on a solution.
We’re sure the industry-disrupting engineers and other geniuses working for Tesla would have been thrilled to collaborate with a mind of Spears’ caliber, but alas they won’t get the opportunity.
That’s because Teslas and other electric cars are already required by law to make a persistent sound when traveling at low speeds, a tweak made at the behest of the American Council of the Blind.
Although Spears got a bit shy after she didn’t receive the ovation she was expecting and refused to clarify how many cats she’s killed with her Teslas, we know the number is at least one. In another recent video, Spears’ similarly purple-haired toddler is seen saying her cat, Turkey (*sniff*), was “in heaven.”
We are sorry Turkey had the misfortune of being adopted by a living indictment of the American education system, and we hope rescue and shelter organizations within 50 miles of Spears’ trailer decline to adopt cats out to her in the future, lest they end up on Musk’s tab.
And if you think we’re being too harsh on Spears, we’d ask you: What kind of world do we live in when someone is allowed to casually kill animals through her own negligence with complete impunity? We’re talking about life here, not broken toys or kitchen appliances.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.