I recently wrote about a group of members of Parliament in Britain debating the possibility of making it obligatory to add a bitterant to car antifreeze and unpalatable to cats.
This is a quick follow-up posting. Unsurprisingly, but regrettably, and I say incorrectly, the British government’s environment minister George Eustice has rejected the idea.
His argument is very poor indeed and in my opinion shows a lack of understanding of the situation. He says the following:
“Ultimately, if antifreeze included a bittering agent and if that deterred animals from taking antifreeze in any circumstances, that would still not deal with the problem of people deliberately setting out to poison cats and other animals,”
I agree that if a nasty, committed person wants to poison cats he will make efforts to do it. We therefore have a duty to present barriers to these people. We have a duty to make it more difficult for these criminals to poison cats and the obvious way to do that is to make antifreeze unpalatable to cats. That would take antifreeze out of the equation.
Car antifreeze is easy to buy. It is highly palatable to cats and therefore common sense dictates we have a duty to do something about it. The presence of antifreeze facilitates the poisoning of cats. As a method of poisoning cats it is also effective from another standpoint: it is almost impossible to catch the criminal because the defence is that antifreeze will occasionally be spilled on the ground when a car owner adds it to the radiator water (note: this would only apply to older cars).
If it was obligatory for antifreeze to contain a bittering agent cat poisoners would have to find an alternative. This barrier to expressing their desire may be sufficient to put a number of them off. I believe that quite a lot of these people poison cats casually and fecklessly. Present a barrier to their activities and it may stop them.
Mr Eustice says that cat poisoners would find another weapon of choice. Yes, they would if they were committed to the process of poisoning cats but, as mentioned, a lot of them might not be sufficiently committed to find an alternative weapon of choice. Nothing is anywhere near as freely available and as efficient as antifreeze.
This explains why antifreeze poisoning is so prevalent in the United Kingdom. The member of Parliament, Mr Spencer, who instigated the debate has said that he is being inundated on Facebook and Twitter with messages from people all over the country who are experiencing similar issues.
In addition, Cats Protection state that they are aware of 1,197 reports of antifreeze poisonings since November 2012.
Further, Mr Eustice should bear in mind that when a cat dies of antifreeze poisoning he/she dies a painful and highly unpleasant death. He seems to have ignored this together with the common sense argument that making it more difficult to poison cats will prevent some of the poisonings taking place.
It is like gun crime. If guns are freely available there are more homicides.