Guard Who Crushed Kittens Receives One Year Jail Sentence

A former Sing Sing prison guard was sentenced this week to a year in jail for killing five kittens in a garbage compactor.

Saying that the crime was “so offensive and so calculated and so gratuitously cruel, it diminishes the humanity of everybody,” Westchester Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Lange sentenced Ronald Hunlock, 48, to a year in prison.

Hunlock actually received six separate one-year sentences — one for each of the kittens as well as one for the mother cat — but the judge allowed Hunlock to serve the sentences concurrently.

Under 3-year-old New York statute, the maximum prison time Hunlock could have received was two years.

On March 22, 2002, Hunlock was officially fired from his job (he had been on suspension without pay since being arrested) and forfeited over half a million in pension and retirement benefits as a result.


Sing Sing guard gets year in jail for crushing cats. Owen Motiz, New York Daily News, March 23, 2002.

Sing Sing guard gets year in jail for killing 5 kittens. Jim Fitzgerald, Associated Press, March 22, 2002.

Cloning Cats

Researchers at Texas A & M were in the news this week when word leaked that they managed to successfully clone a cat. A number of research efforts are underway to clone cats and dogs, but this was the first such success.

Much of the media coverage focused on the possibility of cloning pets. The Canadian Press quoted Texas A & M researcher Duane Kraemer as claiming that some people have already stored cells from their departed pets in the hope that cloning might one day bring back copies of said pets.

A more important possibility is the role that cloned cats may play in medical research. This possibility brought condemnation from the Humane Society of the United StatesWayne Pacelle who described the announcement as “unfortunate news” and told the Canadian Press that researchers should move away from using animals in medical research.

But research in cats has provided important information about a variety of issues related to human physiology, especially about vision. The way cats process vision is very similar to the processes in human beings. In fact, David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel won the 1981 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their research in cats and monkeys that completely revolutionized understanding of how vision is processed.

Pacelle and animal rights activists are free to maintain that advances in human knowledge thanks to animal research are “unfortunate,” but they will have to excuse the rest of us for finding this to be incredibly exciting news.


Texas researchers announce successful cloning of a cat; dogs are next. Malcolm Ritter, Canadian Press, February 15, 2002.

More than nine lives for this cat. Antonio Regalado, The Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2002.

Prison Guard Convicted for Crushing Kittens in Trash Compactor

Ronald Hunlock, 47, was found guilty this week of aggravated cruelty to animals for crushing to death five kittens in a trash compactor at Sing Sing prison where he was a guard.

Hunlock discovered the kittens during a search of an inmate’s cell. Hunlock ordered the prisoner to put the kittens in the trash compactor as a punishment, but when the prisoner refused to do so, Hunlock placed the kittens in the machine and started it himself.

Hunlock’s defense argued that the facts were largely irrelevant since New York’s Felony Animal Cruelty Laws was excessively vague and overly broad. The judge in the case, Peter M. Leavitt, disagreed, finding the law consistent with New York’s constitution.

Hunlock faces sentencing on March 19, 2002, and faces up to two years in prison.


Conviction applauded by animal activists. Zachary R. Dowdy, Newsday, December 19, 2001.

Guard convicted of crushing kittens. Associated Press, December 18, 2001.

ALF Raid Liberates Feral Cats

After an outbreak of rabies in the area, authorities in Gaston County, North Carolina began rounding up feral cats. The cats were housed in an animal shelter where the Animal Liberation Front activists apparently feared they would be euthanized. So on September 14, several ALF members broke in to the animal shelter and stole the cats.

The raid was denounced by a local group trying to help the cats, Friends of Feral Felines. FFF leader Ann Gross told The Charlotte Observer that the raid was “outrageous” and she feared that the cats might no longer be receiving proper medical attention. From personal experience trying to find humane ways to deal with feral cats, they tend to have a large number of health problems and diseases, and the ALF activists didn’t do the cats or people concerned about rabies and other diseases any favors with their raid.


Animal advocates take issue with cat liberators. Peter Smolowitz, The Charlotte Observer, September 15, 2000.

Domestic cat gives birth to rare African cat — did they violate its rights?

    There was a lot of hype and
hoopla, deservedly so in my opinion, over scientists ability to implant
the embryo of an African wildcat into a domestic cat resulting in a live
birth. This has lots of implications and possibilities for helping to
save a wide variety of endangered and threatened species.

    Of course from an animal rights
perspective, what happened here was an abomination. No, I haven’t seen
any animal rights groups formally slam this mini-miracle, but it is inevitable.
If it is wrong to keep animals as pets or use them for medical research,
certainly its wrong to use domesticated animals as means to perpetuate
another species, even one closely related from an evolutionary point of

    If society and researchers
were to follow animal rights philosophers such as Peter Singer, it would
be necessary to grant equal moral consideration to the domestic cat’s
interest in living freely and the African wild cat’s interest in perpetuating
its species (though its unclear even from Singer’s writing and other animal
rights positions that the latter is a valid interest at all).

    Columnist Jay Ambrose understands
well both the amazement this sort of advance creates as well as what it
says about our species,

Human beings – a species that comes in for a lot of criticism
– are using that which makes them different in kind, their extraordinary
intelligence, to do something that a number of other species would be
grateful for if they could understand it.


“, December 17, 1999 Scripps Howard

Burlington Coat Factory Contributes to HSUS

Stung by revelations that
some of its fur-trimmed parkas were made with dog fur, Burlington Coat Factory announced in December it was giving $100,000 to the Humane Society of the United States. to help that group lobby for a federal ban on the
commercial sale of cat and dog fur.

What is Burlington Coat Factory

Certainly the companyÂ’s anger
is understandable; most of the coats were made in China and the company
had no idea dog fur was being used. Burlington did the right thing in
offering to take back the coats from customers who were misled. But to
donate $100,000 to a group dedicated to making sure no animal products
are used in the production of clothes makes no sense, except as a crass
publicity maneuver.

And one that will certainly
backfire, as executives may already be finding out. As numerous animal
rights activists have pointed out, BurlingtonÂ’s support of a ban on cat
and dog fur is extremely hypocritical. If it is wrong to use cat and dog
fur on coats, isnÂ’t it wrong to use fur from other animals as well? Why
isnÂ’t Burlington lobbying for a ban on leather coats if it is suddenly
so committed to the rights of animals?

Those who deal with animals
canÂ’t have it both ways. Researchers canÂ’t claim itÂ’s okay for them
to experiment on and eventually kill animals for the important medical
knowledge such activities provide, but it is wrong for others to eat animals
or use them for clothing. Hunters canÂ’t go on at length about the mystical
experiences they have in the wilderness, but turn around and argue what
medical researchers do is completely different (so long as, in both examples,
the guidelines for treating the animals are similar – one need not argue
that in order to be consistent an animal researcher or hunter must approve
of the individuals who harm animals solely for the sadistic pleasure of
doing so).

Adrian Morrison, president
of the National Animal Interest Alliance
has coined the term “muddled middle” to describe such positions.
As Morrison wrote in a recent NAIA newsletter:

Those opposing animal use and those questioning the quality of animal
use (traditional animal welfarists) blended into a new grouping, the
animal protection community. And with that came the call to seek a common
ground, to abandon polemics for the sake of the animals. And so was
created (conveniently) a muddled middle, inhabited by those who do not
see that a middle ground between use and non-use of animals is a logical
impossibility . . . The muddled middle does not have a clear understanding
of how a variety of uses fit into a coherent whole: the necessary participation
of humans, and most especially modern humans, in the intricacies of
Nature. At the same time, we who choose to use animals for pleasure
and those who do so out of necessity must do so responsibly.

Ironically, this is a small area of agreement with the animal rights
activists . . . the use of animals in human society either stands or falls
as a whole in this writerÂ’s opinion. If fur is an abomination, certainly
leather is as well. If using animals in circuses (provided they are treated
responsibly) is wrong, I donÂ’t see how seeing eye dogs for the blind become
defensible except through some incredibly complex utilitarian calculus
that few people would find coherent, much less workable.