Fears Morgan's cat comments will spark animal abuse

ROB KIDD
Last updated 10:16 31/01/2013
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FAIRFAX NZ
CLAWS OUT: Gareth Morgan wants action against cats.

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Animal rights lobbyists are worried anti-cat sentiment sparked by Gareth Morgan's recent campaign will lead to increasing animal abuse.

A 41-year-old man from Papatoetoe appeared in the Manukau District Court yesterday charged with ill treating an animal, as well as assaulting a female.

According to court documents, the man is alleged to have inflicted a sustained attack on the cat "by dunking its head in the pool, throwing it across the backyard and while holding it by the neck, hit its head against a table".

Paw Justice co-founder Craig Dunn said he was concerned Morgan's inflammatory comments may spark more violence of that type.

"You're going to get people who abuse animals but it could be a catalyst," Dunn said.

"His website is pretty full on, saying they're 'serial killers'." 

Dunn said people were easily influenced by the media and what they saw on television, and though Morgan's stance may not directly cause violence against cats, he reckoned it could not help.

Despite cat lovers' vocal protests against the straight-shooting businessman, his argument looks like getting a significant boost from a US study released on Tuesday.

Scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated free-roaming domestic cats killed up to 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion mammals a year.

They acknowledged the majority of those figures would be attributable to feral cats.

"The estimated kill rates are two to four times higher than mortality figures previously bandied about, and position the domestic cat as one of the single greatest human-linked threats to wildlife in the nation.

"More birds and mammals die at the mouths of cats, the report said, than from automobile strikes, pesticides and poisons, collisions with skyscrapers and windmills and other so-called anthropogenic causes," the New York Times reported.

Dunn said US research was all well and good but he claimed Morgan's viewpoint would only hold any weight if substantial research done in this country supported it.

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