This is so wrong

October 23, 2011 • 9:15 am

From the Army Public Health Command:

Killer Kittens

via Wired, which says this:

On Aug. 31, Army Spc. Kevin Shumaker, 24, died of rabies after being bitten by a stray dog in Afghanistan. Shumaker was the first U.S. soldier to die of rabies since the Vietnam War. In response, the Army launched a public education offensive, hanging up posters like the one above that warn of the deadly viruses lurking within even the cuddliest of creatures.

Now look at that poster again and see if you don’t think it’s implicitly saying, “Shoot that kitten!”

If you’re one of those misguided atheists who likes dogs, there’s a similar poster with puppies at the link above. . .

h/t: Michael G.

62 thoughts on “This is so wrong

  1. So can we just bring everyone home from that hellhole now? Obviously, avoiding humans getting rabies is a prime concern, but won’t someone think of teh kittehs?!

  2. Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. I’m afraid time and age have jaded you. Look more closely at that picture and you’ll promptly see what’s being shown off is the cunning of the kitties. See how one of them is being all coquettish, walking up to the hot SSG with the ginormous m4 carbine, gloved up as he is.

    And then look at the one staring at the camera. Bearing its fangs. Relishing the moment, knowing its partner in cuddly crime is already at work. I bet after the picture was taken, first the solider and then the cameraman, both humans were killed. This picture comes to us as forensic evidence – a snapshot in time to just before the deed was done.

    I bet the puppy one is just some stupid dog lumbering over and going chomp. No style. Stupid gods. dogs. somethings.

  3. “If you are bitten, or if an animal’s saliva contacts your broken skin…”

    Every single day. Am I right? This guy just does not like teh kittehs.

  4. Sounds like typical overreaction. One person dies from rabies in decades, and they’ve gotta change the whole army… meanwhile, thousands have died from, you know, being in a war zone.

    Similarly, 3000 people die, and we’ve gotta spend trillions on wars lasting decades, and have people living in fear of death by terrorist that’s far less likely than being struck by lightning. Meanwhile, 3000 people die every two days from cancer. When are we gonna get our priorities straight?

      1. “Electrocute” seems to be losing its force. From “electic” + “execute” it originally meant only capital punishment by electricity, then it got weakened to any electrical death. Now does it mean no more than electic shock? Tomorrow, a pleasant tingling?

        1. Hmmm…

          “electrocute |iˈlektrəˌkyoōt|
          verb [ trans. ] (often be electrocuted)
          injure or kill someone by electric shock”

          Perhaps the slander created by Thomas Edison to destroy the superior AC electric distribution system developed by Tesla and Westinghouse is finally starting to lose its force?

  5. Ummm. I just interpret it as “don’t pet/cuddle stray animals”. I think the gun might be incidental, what with it being a soldier and all. I’m obviously just the kind of feeble-minded sucker that the US propaganda machine targets…

  6. We do live in an anti-cat pseudo-society. So I guess this kind of malarkey is expected. And all this cat hatred is also one reason why I wish I could go on a one-way Mars mission!

          1. Oh well, I suppose everyone – including cat lovers – are entitled to an opinion. Even if it’s wrong! 😉

            (I don’t *hate* cats, I simply dislike them.)


    1. I’ve read that if you die in your home and are not discovered you will be treated very differently by your dog and your cat. The cat will start in on you as soon as it gets hungry, a dog won’t until many days have gone by.

      1. My grandfather (born in 1880-something) told me a story like that about an prospector who died. One of those things that really sticks in one’s mind when heard as a child…

        I rather doubt that the experiment has been done…what’s interesting is the human values we impose.

        In my mind, a corpse is a corpse is a corpse. Nothing left of the personality (however we define that in regards to neurological science) that animated it.

    2. what about us bi-species folks that entertain both dogs and cats? Is there something wrong with us?

      Rabies is serious, and a threat especially to people from areas where it is not common. Back in the 90s when rabies hit NJ, my wife at the time was in animal control and we dealt with it on a daily basis.

      Nonetheless, with common sense it’s just a matter of reporting ALL animal bites promptly, and using general caution. No need to go overboard beyond that. (Bat bites are very rare, but more dangerous because the person may never even feel the bite).

  7. Michael, You can’t be serious. It’s a joke, right? Poor joke at that. The real unseen killers in Afghanistan are goats. Their droppings are loaded with parasites programed to infect non-native humans. I thought everyone knew that.

  8. I’ve asked this before–is the US Army unaware that there is a rabies vaccine? It’s a bit involved (3 injections spaced over 3-4 weeks, I believe), but I have difficulty believing the Army doesn’t bother to vaccinate troops going to a place where rabies is common. Of course, vaccines aren’t sexy like satellites and tanks and grenade launchers…

      1. Yes. It’s called pre-exposure prophylaxis. It’s usually recommended for people who work with animals and have a likelihood of exposure (such as veterinarians) or if you are traveling to a place with a high incidence of rabies (I was vaccinated for a trip to Romania, which has a large number of feral dogs and cats). If bitten by animal suspected of carrying rabies, you still have to receive treatment, but it’s not as involved. Like I said, I would be surprised if soldiers deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan aren’t vaccinated. It’s more practical than saying “Don’t pet the cute kitty or puppy!”

        Here’s a link (I hope) to the CDC and rabies vaccines:

        If that doesn’t work, google “CDC Travelers Pre-exposure vaccination rabies”.

        1. Interesting. Along with Microraptor, I never realized this was done.

          It’s always possible that the armed forces are weighing statistical odds vs. the cost involved…

  9. My being misguided has nothing to do with my preference for dogs. The Ms in my life just tends to be a better navigator; that’s all.

  10. Short video Walk a Mile

    The men of U.S. Army Garrision-Grafenwoehr recently had a chance to strap on a pair of heels and take steps–literally–to fight domestic violence and assault.

    The “Walk a Mile in her Shoes” event, in which men wore heels to raise awareness about violence against women, drew 600 people and 100 pairs of flashy red heels ranging in men’s sizes 9 to 14. That’s a lot of blisters, bunions and corns

  11. “Shumaker was the first U.S. soldier to die of rabies since the Vietnam War.”

    There have been nearly 2,700 coalition deaths in Afghanistan and they fire up the propaganda machine for a completely freak casualty?

    Oh wait! I get it now. Maybe we can just blame it all on the kittens and puppies!

      1. Don’t be ridiculous.

        The cats would have to be willing to follow your commands for you to be their leader. You’re just aiding and abetting.

  12. I don’t see “shoot that kitteh”, I just see a soldier on duty being distracted by a kitteh while the enemy is watching. My first impression was that it might be a poster warning that you can get screwed up if you so much as disturb a kitteh and it makes a noise – but even in such a situation the dumbest thing you can do is to shoot because that really gets everyone’s attention.

  13. One night my ex-feral cat woke me up to tell me something important.

    It wasn’t a good time. I just went back to sleep.

    The next morning, lying on top of the covers was a dead bat. That he had brought me.

    They’ve only caught a few bats but I’ve seen them trying. When the bats are flying low, they track them and jump in the air with their paws out. It doesn’t work very often, fortunately.

  14. I’m sorry this soldier died of rabies after being bitten by a stray dog.

    But there is a simple protocol for this and it happens often.

    If you can, get the dog. Either quarantine it or kill it and assay if for rabies. There is a brain sectioning histology test that works well or various newer ones based on serology and DNA.

    Get the rabies vaccine which is a preventative post-exposure one. The newer vaccine isn’t as bad as the old one.

    If this soldier had been in the USA or even not a soldier, that is what would have been done.

    1. The rabies vaccine should be administered regardless of whether the animal can be captured. The only reason I can see for observing or assaying the animal is for reporting the occurrence of rabid animal attacks and has nothing to do with the health of the victim. The observation/assay was probably of more benefit in the bad old days when you only had the long drawn out Goat’s Brain or Duck Embryo vaccines and the treatment could be discontinued based on the results of the observation or assay.

    1. Hmm…how many have died in car accidents and helicopter crashes? A darn site more than from rabies. Rabies is probably the least likely thing service personnel have to worry about in the **War Zone**. We lose more people to traffic and aircraft accidents. The soldier died of an outlier.

    2. I saw no intent that the picture be found ‘amusing’. Seems to me the whole point of the post was to highlight bureaucratic stupidity (your tax dollars at work), as exemplified by the massive poster response to a comparatively inconsequential risk element in an environment fraught with greater dangers.

  15. so, soldier dude gets bit…doesn’t seek a medic? um…duh? right? hey, guy gets a boo-boo, go see Hawk-eye, Pierce, or even Radar..confronted by ass-biting dogs? need more than a band-aid. but more importantly, watch out for those exploding IUD’s…

  16. I agree that the poster does seem to suggest that soldiers should shoot cats. The prominent placing of the rifle in the photo seems unmistakable to me.

    But, I am reminded of the “Doonesbury” cartoon during the Vietnam War: a character was upset that, during a bombing, baby ducks were killed. The point being that human civilians are killed on a regular basis, so the concern for animals, while nice, seems a bit out of place.

    1. I disagree. If you were patrolling with arms ready, you’d be in exactly that pose if you bent down to pat a kitteh as that soldier is doing. The soldier has absolutely no intention of harming the kitteh as anyone can tell by simply looking at how his trigger finger is positioned.

  17. I’ve been reading Jerry’s blog that is not a blog for more than a year. Finally, something I’m an expert in and can comment on! I’m recently retired and served two tours of duty in Iraq 2005 & 2008-2009.

    Before they deploy, service-members are well aware of all the horrible ways they can die at the hands of the enemy because they ‘die’ that way repeatedly in training before shipping out.

    As you would expect service-members are extremely focused on how the bad guys can kill them and they can loose sight of the more mundane dangers. So the military has education drives and public awareness campaigns for just about anything that can injure or kill you in peacetime or a warzone: vehicle accidents caused by driving tired, scorpion stings, malaria, leishmaniasis, IEDs, weapon clearing procedures, suicide prevention, sexual assault prevention, food poisoning, drunk driving, etc.

    During my first deployment, 8 soldiers in my brigade (about 5600 troops) were killed in Iraq: 1 by the enemy, 1 suicide, 1 electrocution, and 5 in vehicle accidents. Only a hand full more were actually injured by the enemy, but dozens were injured in vehicle wrecks alone or in ‘workplace’ accidents during the course of their normal duties. Soldiers have a physically demanding life that requires enduring both extreme physical and mental hardship. Therefore they really don’t like displaying weakness of any kind. For every soldier who is restricted to quarters or medical leave, someone else has to take up their slack. This can go as far as denying other soldiers their R&R leave if their departure would result in the unit being below its minimum manpower. Therefore the military’s emphasis on preventing the seemingly mundane injuries/accidents because these reduce combat power MORE THAN WOUNDS INFLICTED BY THE ENEMY.

    Most campaigns don’t have posters, they simply come down the chain of command via command policy memorandums that are distributed to the units leaders (officers & NCOs), read to the troops, and posted in the units offices and rec areas. The cooler ones come with a series of full color pictures. Ah, the festering wounds of leishmaniasis, and that picture of the the poor bastard who stepped on a land mine with his right hip in the normal place and left hip next to his left ear (from a previous misadventure in a far off jungle, but it got the point across). Now, I’m not saying that soldiers enjoy witnessing the suffering of others. Its not schadenfreude. It’s more like mentally preparing yourself for the inevitable horror you will encounter. Its easier to face death if you’ve seen it before and can laugh in its face.

    As for vaccinations, the military vaccinates soldiers against the diseases that commonly afflict people in the area where you will be stationed. For Iraq, I recived vaccinations for, tetanus, diptheria, hepatitis A&B, typhoid, polio, MMR, and anthrax. I didn’t get malaria pills because I was in central and southern Iraq. Soldiers in norther Iraq get malaria pills because that disease is a problem there. Rabies in people is so rare that the military doesn’t vaccinate against it, instead they tell you not to touch the wildlife.

    As to the SSG has a weapon so he’s going to shoot the kitten, that pic is photoshopped, the cat was added. I didn’t see any cats in Iraq but wild/stray dogs were everywhere. Most service-members deployed in a warzone are armed at all times except in the shower or when exercising. I slept with my rifle and pistol within arms reach. My roommate slept with his pistol loaded but unchambered under his pillow. During training for both deployments the military repeatedly said don’t touch the animals, over and over and over again. They never once said to kill any creature unless there was actual danger of it attacking.

    Finally, my thoughts on the death of SPC Shumaker. He was probably stationed on a small base, far from advanced medical care. He probably thought it was ‘merely a fleshwound’ and just had his local medic clean and bandage the wound. He may have done it himself because he didn’t want to bother the medics with something so trivial when they were patching up his buddies with bullet holes. He may not even have told his chain of command about it. Even if he did notify his CoC, everyone probably thought it was minor, after all, the guy who got shot in the thigh (through and through, no vascular or bone damage) isn’t asking to be medevac’d out and leave his buddies to take care of themselves. Per Wikipedia, symptoms of rabies typically take from 2-12 weeks to show, but can take longer. SPC Shmaker’s dog bite may have been completely healed by then so no-one thought his ‘flu-like’ symptoms was from that wound. He probably didn’t get treatment for rabies care until after he began showing serious signs of being ‘sick’. And by then its usually too late. Proper treatment would require a medevac helicopter ride from his small base to the nearest megabase. And if they local army docs don’t have the drugs to treat rabies, a flight to a US base in Europe. At best its 12-36 hours from the time he shows real symptoms before he can be in Europe getting the best care possible. Again per Wikipedia, patients who weren’t immunized prior to catching rabies have a survival rate of only 8%.

    I’m a lifelong atheist and even I think War is Hell. Strangers are trying to kill you, the food sucks, you never get enough sleep, all the bugs bite and some carry disease, its hot, its cold, its all the little things that make you miserable. Worst of all, strangers are trying to kill your friends.

    Sorry for the long post, but I just wanted to put this into the proper perspective for yall.

    1. Thanks for the post–it was very informative, and re: rabies vaccination, it seems to be along the lines Diane G. pointed out above–it’s a cost-benefit analysis on the part of the Army.

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