Tag: investigation

Fred The Cat Is Back With His Human And His Brother, Thanks To Police

Beryl Edwards was overjoyed when her microchipping company contacted her to inform her that her cat Fred, missing since the summer of 2022, had been found.

Then her joy turned to frustration as the company asked her to confirm a change in Fred’s ownership.

“Can you imagine the range of emotions from, ‘Fred! He’s alive, he’s OK’ to ‘transfer of ownership? What’s this all about?’” the UK woman told the BBC earlier this week.

A rep from Identibase told Edwards the company couldn’t provide any information on the person or people who currently had Fred due to data privacy laws, so Edwards called the police, who handled it swiftly.

“I’m totally over the moon,” Edwards told the BBC on Wednesday. “I can’t praise Market Drayton police enough, they got on to the case on Sunday, contacted the people on Monday, and by 10:45 on Monday evening they brought Fred home.”

The police are able to access data the public cannot if it pertains to an investigation, and law enforcement had said earlier they considered Fred’s predicament a case of theft. It’s not clear if they charged the other party with a crime.

As for Fred, Edwards said he’s happy to be home with her and his litter mate, Gino.

“He’s roaming around the house, obviously he’s kept in doors,” she said. “He’s playing, he’s eating, having lots of cuddles, lots of love, he’s great.”

UK legislators recently passed a law that will require all cat owners to have their felines microchipped by June 10, 2024. Advocates say the law will greatly increase the chances that missing cats are reunited with their people. It will also help hold people to account if they abandon their pets, and will help authorities settle questions of ownership in cases where it’s disputed. Edwards said she’d like to see changes to the way information is shared as well so people in her situation can more easily resolve their problems.

‘Every Time We Needed To Refill, They Charged Us More’: FDA Says 2 US Women Made Millions Off Desperate People Whose Cats Had FIPV

FIPV is pretty much a guaranteed death sentence for cats, and the only way to cure it is with an experimental drug that doesn’t have FDA approval.

Oregon’s Nancy Ross and Nicole Randall of Texas knew that, and as importers selling the cure via the popular Facebook group FIP Warriors, the FDA says they banked on the desperation of people who would do almost anything to save their cats — including forking over vast sums of money.

Ross and Randall are now accused by the FDA of smuggling GS-441524 from China, where it’s manufactured illegally, and hiking the price by almost 16 times what they paid for it as they served as the middle women between desperate cat owners and the suppliers in Hong Kong.

Feline infectious peritonitis kills some 95 percent of cats it infects, and veterinarians often tell their clients with FIPV cats that while they can’t prescribe GS-441524, they will help administer it, track their cats’ progress through bloodwork and hopefully save feline lives — if the clients obtain the drug themselves.

FIP Warriors — now in its fifth incarnation as FIP Warriors 5.0 on Facebook — is where people with FIPV cats go to find suppliers. The group has more than 43,000 members, and the FDA says Randall made millions off of them, charging as much as $385 for vials of GS-441524 she obtained for between $25 and $45 from manufacturers in Hong Kong and mainland China.

Randall sold $9.6 million worth of GS-441524 to clients in the US, according to the FDA. Per The Oregonian:

“A spreadsheet found in Randall’s Google email showed customer orders of at least 58,460 vials and 236,836 pills of GS-441524 from July 2020 through June 6, 2022, the affidavit said.”

PITB spoke to several people who paid thousands of dollars for GS-441524 after their cats were diagnosed with FIPV. All of them said they were surprised by the news of the FDA’s investigation, and said they were given various reasons for why the drug was so expensive to acquire.

One customer from Texas, whose cat Seth began his regimen in July of 2020, told PITB she doesn’t regret spending the money to cure Seth, but she “can see how the people saw our desperate situation and took advantage of us.” She was told prices were at a premium because of scarcity.

“It was a very stressful time for us, and every time we needed to refill, they charged us more,” she said. “They knew we couldn’t say no.”


Another woman, whose kitten was diagnosed with FIPV in 2021, “was told that the prices were set because they ensure the medication was purchased from a trusted source.”

As a college student at the time, she used her savings and crowdfunded the other half, paying more than $5,000 for her kitten’s treatment. She said she doesn’t think the administrators of the group were ripping her off, since they had FIP cats of their own, and likely didn’t know the importers were making huge profits. She trusted the seller — who was not Ross or Randall — because the group vouched for that person, assuring her they supplied real pills.

“Of course, I don’t think this is a valid justification for hiking up prices up to 16x the amount,” she told PITB, “but I’m sincerely hoping the individual [accused by the FDA] had a valid reason for setting the prices that she did.”

Others paid even more exorbitant prices: a British woman we interviewed for a story about FIPV in 2022 said she paid about £7,000, or $9,400 at the time.

FDA investigators said they intercepted shipments from China and Hong Kong disguised as COVID masks, cat shampoo and chewable medicine for pets, and the Oregonian report says the shipments were listed as “essential oils” and “beauty products” in import documents.

Randall and Ross have not been charged criminally, but they are now targets of a civil asset forfeiture case:

“The government seized five of Randall’s bank and brokerage accounts and her 2022 Tesla Model Y car last year based on a warrant signed by a federal magistrate judge in Oregon.

The warrant identified the bank accounts and car as proceeds from the “crime of smuggling” and subject to forfeiture, according to the affidavit. It also alleged Randall, now 35, used the proceeds to buy several properties, including a ranch in Leander, Texas, in July 2021.”

While the FDA’s affidavit went into detail regarding Randall’s earnings, it describes shipments sent to Ross but does not specify how much she may have made in profit. An attorney for Randall told The Oregonian that the Texas woman will fight the civil asset forfeiture.

The illegal market for GS-441524 exists because the drug’s creator, Gilead Sciences of California, declined to submit it to the FDA for approval. That’s because it’s chemically similar to another drug the company makes, remdesivir, which was floated as a possible treatment for COVID-19. The company was worried any snags in a potential approval process for GS-441524 would also ensnare remdesivir, according to reports, putting the latter drug in limbo during the pandemic.

Now that the pandemic has retreated to much lower levels of infection and death, it’s not clear if Gilead Sciences will reconsider its FIPV medication, but there may be hope in the form of alternate treatments. A report from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) says scientists at the University of California-Davis and UC San Diego are working on several promising therapies, including a potential treatment using CRISPR gene-editing technology.

But until another cure or treatment passes trials and earns FDA approval — a process that could take years — people with FIPV-diagnosed cats remain at the mercy of strangers on the internet, spending thousands of dollars per regimen and hoping the drugs they buy are the real deal.

Sunday Cats: Hoarders In Buddyland, Alleged Dallas Zoo Thief Nabbed, P-22 Remembered

When police went to a Yorktown, NY, home for a welfare check this week, the last thing they expected was to find an army of cats.

The responding officers breached the home when no one answered, finding an elderly couple deceased inside, along with some 150 hungry, neglected cats. Police don’t believe there was foul play in the death of the couple, but the number of cats and the condition of the home have “hindered” their investigation.

The Westchester County SPCA is taking on the monumental task of collecting the cats, giving each of them veterinary care and finding homes for them. Staff there are calling it the largest single rescue in their history, and they’d already filled their own facilities and local shelters to capacity by the time they’d rescued 100 of the famished felines, leaving them scrambling for room to place the others. Some have upper respiratory, eye and skin infections, the SPCA said, while most of the cats were malnourished and dehydrated.

Despite living in conditions police described as “filth and squalor,” the cats are well-socialized and friendly, rescuers say. They believe the husband and wife may have been Abyssinian breeders at some point.

“It’s very unusual in a case like this, especially with that number of cats, for them to be as social and sweet as they are, usually they are scared when they come from a situation like this because they haven’t had a lot of human interaction,” the SPCA of Westchester’s Lisa Bonnano told the New York Post.

Yorktown is about 28 miles north of Casa Buddy, and we can vouch for the excellent work done by the Westchester County SPCA, whose veterinarians gave kitten Buddy his first shots and gave him the snip.

Veterinary costs alone are expected to exceed $40,000, so if you’d like to help, you can make a donation here.

Alleged Dallas Zoo thief nabbed

When 24-year-old Davion Irvin stopped an employee at the Dallas World Aquarium to ask about exotic animals there, the staffer recognized him as the same man pictured in a surveillance still from the Dallas Zoo.

Police released the image to the public after three separate enclosures at the zoo were breached, leading to the brief disappearance of a spotted leopard on Jan. 13 and the theft of two emperor tamarin monkeys about two weeks later. The langur monkey exhibit was also breached, but the animals were not removed.

After the aquarium’s staff tipped them off, cops caught up to Irvin a few miles away and have since linked him to all three break-ins. They charged him with two counts of burglary — for the monkeys and the leopard — and six counts of animal cruelty. They’re also looking into whether Irvin may have been involved with the “very suspicious” death of an endangered lappet-faced vulture on Jan. 21.

Cops, who initially suspected the thief was looking for exotic animals to breed or sell, have said Irvin hasn’t told them why he wanted the primates and the medium size cats. Their investigation is ongoing.

Thousands say goodbye to P-22

More than six thousand people crowded into The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on Saturday to say goodbye to P-22, the Hollywood Lion, a puma who made the hills above the city his home for more than a decade.

One of several new murals of beloved mountain lion P-22, who was euthanized in December after he was hit by a car and suffering from an infection.

People spoke about seeing his curious face pop up on their doorball cameras, spotting him disappearing into the trees in Griffith Park, and how his presence piqued the curiosity of many people who took the time to learn more about mountain lions.

But the unofficial theme of the event was how P-22 showed people humans and wildlife can co-exist, and how our species can do a lot more to make sure the animals we share the Earth with will survive in the future. One woman told LAist that before she learned about P-22, she “used to think they were scary” and aggressive like the big cats they’re often confused with.

Others said he inspired them to get directly involved with conservation efforts.

“We are wildlife. We are creatures of nature, just as all the animals and plants are,” archaeologist Desireé Martinez, a member of the indigenous Gabrielino-Tongva tribe, told KTLA. “What can we do to make sure that the creatures that we are sharing this nature with have the ability to survive and live on — just like us?”

P-22’s unforgettable visage, already familiar to Los Angelinos, is now ubiquitous in his former range, with several murals adorning the sides of buildings and other displays bearing his image.

“He inspired so much happiness. I mean, look at all the people that are here,” Babetta Gonzalez told LAist. “We have to remember that we are in their neighborhood and we need to respect their environment. We have integrated, but we could do a lot better.”

French Couple Buys ‘Savannah Kitten,’ Gets Tiger Cub Instead

A French couple who answered an online ad to buy a Savannah kitten ended up with a tiger cub instead.

The couple, from Le Havre — a coastal town in Normandy, about 110 miles west of Paris — plunked down $7,000 for the little cat, who they were told was an exotic mix between a Serval and a domestic cat.

After about a week, they realized their “kitten” was a tiger cub and contacted authorities, UPI reported. Specialists from the French Biodiversity Office determined the cub is a Sumatran tiger and are caring for the growing cat.


That happened back in 2018, and the reason we’re only hearing about it now is because French police have completed their investigation in which they tracked down the seller and arrested nine people on animal trafficking laws.

There are only some 4,000 tigers remaining in the wild in the entire world. Habitat destruction, poaching and the illegal wildlife market are the primary causes pushing the iconic big cats to extinction.

Meanwhile, Buddy the Cat believes he too was born of wild tiger stock and was mistaken for a common kitten when he was adopted by Big Buddy.

“Obviously, they dyed my fur gray,” Buddy said. “But they couldn’t do anything to hide how ripped I am.”

All images via Wikimedia Commons.