- 1. ASPCA Happy Tails: The Friendly Ghost
- 2. DNA Evidence Revolutionizes Cruelty Cases in NYC
- 3. Happy April—It’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month!
- 4. Ninety-Five Shelters Vie to Participate in $100K Challenge
1. ASPCA Happy Tails: The Friendly Ghost
In honor of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, Happy Tails is traveling to Blythewood, South Carolina, where a starving, blue-eyed kitten named Casper overcame a devastating history of abuse to embrace a loving life with Amanda Davis.
It was 2003, the summer after my sophomore year of college at USC. I was visiting my mother on the weekend, as I often did before she passed away. The second I came in the door, the first words out of her mouth were, "Come see who we found on the porch."
I smiled, knowing it was a stray of some sort, and I couldn't wait to meet him or her. I walked into our dining room, and there, cowering under a table leg, was a visibly injured little white bundle with the biggest, most amazing pale blue eyes I'd ever seen. "We're calling him Casper," my mother said. "I mean, he's about as pale as a ghost and he acts like he's seen one, so it fits!" We laughed.
I crouched on all fours and hummed and cooed at him. I noticed, again, his injuries and asked my mother if she'd taken him to the vet yet. She said, "When we took him to Dr. Meinke, he told us that some horrible person had burnt the pads of his feet and ripped out his claws. If I find out who did that to this sweet animal...makes me sick!"
It was then, as we were talking and I was slowly stroking him, that Casper looked right up at me. I kept petting him, listening to his happy purr, and quietly fell in love with him. I knew then I'd found a very special cat and that he was meant to be mine.
That was nearly eight years ago.
Now, Caspy is no longer a skinny, terrified kitten. He's a huge flame-point Siamese, with a fat white belly and orange points down his back and a long, long tail. He's a loving and wonderful cat, despite his terrible beginnings. I feel just as lucky now as I did then to have him in my life. I like to think he feels the same.
For more heartwarming stories of furry fate, please visit our Happy Tails archive.
2. DNA Evidence Revolutionizes Cruelty Cases in NYC
On March 8, two Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) cases resulted in landmark felony convictions—thanks in large part to DNA evidence. The ASPCA first performed DNA analysis related to an animal cruelty case in September 2008, but these recent cases are the first in which DNA has been entered as evidence during trial.
Dr. Robert Reisman, Medical Coordinator of Animal Cruelty Cases at the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, hailed the March verdicts as groundbreaking. “DNA analysis is pretty sophisticated science at this point,” says Dr. Reisman, who testified and conducted the forensic investigation in both cases, “and it’s very powerful evidence for a juror to hear.”
The cases also shine a light on HLE Agents’ resourcefulness and dedication, say both Dr. Reisman and HLE Assistant Director Joseph Pentangelo, who credited the Agents for “making good use of the newest tools to fight animal cruelty.”
The first conviction was for a 2008 incident in which a cat was doused with lighter fluid and set on fire. While investigating a Brooklyn building where the cat spent time, Special Agent Adam Gankiewicz found a vacant room with charred tile flooring—and in that room was a piece of what appeared to be skin.
DNA testing, performed at the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of California Davis Veterinary School, showed that the tissue matched that of the feline victim, establishing the crime scene. Based on this evidence, the perpetrator, 20-year-old Angelo Monderoy, was convicted of aggravated animal cruelty (and also of arson and burglary). He faces three to 15 years in prison and possible deportation to his native Trinidad.
DNA also identified the umbrella that Lordtyshon Garrett of Manhattan used in 2009 to beat a cat, who sustained a punctured lung and ultimately died. Special Agent Deborah Ryan had saliva from the umbrella matched to the DNA of the victim, which, along with Dr. Reisman’s testimony that the bite marks on the umbrella were defensive, helped clinch the case. Garrett, 33, was found guilty of aggravated cruelty, animal cruelty and criminal mischief and faces up to two years in prison.
“These cases pave the way for others in New York,” Dr. Reisman says, noting that two more DNA-supported animal cruelty trials are pending. “They could set precedent for other states as well.”
To learn how you can help end animal abuse, please visit www.fightcruelty.org.
3. Happy April—It’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month!
April is one of our favorite times of year. Not only is spring getting in full swing, it’s also Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month! Each year, the ASPCA urges supporters across the country to "Go Orange for Animals" in honor of the signing of the ASPCA's charter in 1866. Please visit our website at ASPCA.org/april
to see how you can help us celebrate by getting your hometown to go orange, organizing a pet-centric party, entering our latest online photo contest
, or outfitting yourself and your furry friends in the finest orange designs from the ASPCA Online Store
4. Ninety-Five Shelters Vie to Participate in $100K Challenge
We asked our members to spread the word about the 2011 ASPCA $100K Challenge, and, as always, you delivered. We are very pleased to announce that 95 animal shelters—spanning the country from Hawaii to the U.S. Virgin Islands—have been accepted to compete in this year’s qualifying heat!
So, what happens next? During the qualifying heat, which kicks off on April 4, the shelters need their supporters—i.e., you!—to vote online to send them to the Challenge. The 50 agencies with the most votes will be the official contestants of the 2011 Challenge and compete for the $100K grand prize (and a bunch of other prizes, too!).
“The idea behind the qualifying heat is to inspire communities to support their local shelters,” says Bert Troughton, ASPCA Vice President of Community Outreach. “Casting a vote for your local shelter is a way of saying, ‘We care about the animals in our community and want to help our local shelter save animals.’ When people work together with their local shelters, more animals are saved, which has a positive impact on the entire community.”
Check out the full list of this year’s qualifying organizations at ASPCAPro.org, and don’t forget to vote for your favorite at www.votetosavelives.org by April 15!!