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Between me and Death

October 6, 2016

This is going to be very hard for me to write.

too honest. too raw. too recent. too scary.

But I will do it for you, for your feline kin.

Because I feel the vomit rise in my throat

and see the hairs raise on my skin

when I think of you dying alone

in a chamber filled with gases

a cruel man and woman standing, watching, smiling at your death.

Because you are why I am still alive.

Too many nights your paws came under a closed door

razor paused above my wrists

body wracked by violent sobs

just wanting the pain of living to end.

But you insisted I continue.

You were hungry. 20 pounds.

My extra large feline Angel of Mercy.

You demanded my attention and here you sit now, guarding my heart, licking my tears.

You know we saved each other.

So here I sit baring my darkest, scariest suicidal hopes to the world so that you won’t ever end up trapped like I was.

Wishing for death because the pain is just to great. Trapped in a cage. Heart beat winging, eye vessels bursting. Air burning in your tiny lungs as sadistic men gleefully watch you pass.

I can’t imagine losing you that way.

So I’m laying this down for you.

Reliving my pain for you.

Baring my heart and soul for you.

Because no animal should die alone, scared, trapped, caged, fearful, tearful, desperate painful last moments with no hope to survive.

You knew that. Your inferior, wild, outdoorsy feline brain knew that.

And you saved me.

From Dying.


So I promise you, When it comes to what is between me and death, I will pay him what is owed. And it won’t be you, and it won’t be me. It will be the demons, each and every one that I see.

I will seek you out and hunt you.

How have these tables turned?

I am a warrior now, forged in Death’s own fires. Unafraid of what lies beyond the curtain.

But you, Death. I know you’re afraid; you curl into yourself. Lying.

You know those souls weren’t for you.


Cruel. Inhumane. Despicable.

I will haunt you in life.

I promise my Angels that.

Because when you killed them

you attacked the very friends who protected me

and who still protect me

from the most destructive nature of myself.

I owe them my life.

Because animals and me, we share a special bond.

I care for them. Them for me.

You’ve debased that. Made it grotesque.

A disgusting way to try and one up us.

You did your best.

But you failed.

You can’t kill me, you see

I am every loved one’s memory.


This poem is written for the thousands of animals who have been gassed in the University of Idaho’s home-made gas chamber after being trapped without permission from the City of Moscow and Idaho Fish and Game. It is the least I can do for the cats, birds, and other animals who have saved me from the darkest parts of myself over these past three years. By destroying this animal life, the employees of University of Idaho facilities department and the campus veterinarians were waging an intentional war on those of us with deep emotional bonds to the animal world. Their continued use of the gas chamber is causing emotional damages to the broader Moscow Community, of which I am a ten year member.

The first part of this poem is about my own very distressing experience with depression and suicidal desires and my cat’s insistence on saving me from the worst and darkest part of myself. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have her be caught and killed in a gas chamber. Afraid. Alone. Desperate.

There is a community of people who have cared for campus cats for decades. Losing these feline communities for them in this manner has been indescribably painful. The fact that this gassing campaign was carried out to intentionally damage the emotional well being of these University of Idaho employees is disgustingly sadistic behavior that should be appropriately reprimanded. Intentionally causing emotional harm to another human being through violent destruction of innocent life is immoral and despicable behavior. The administration’s protection of these individuals is puzzling and an affront to basic principles of integrity. Humans and animals share complex and close bonds and have for thousands of years. Institutional protection of torturous behavior like this shows a departure from basic morals and highlights the University of Idaho’s inability to properly govern itself. Though I love this school, I would never consider sending any future children of mine there unless it were to prove that these breaks have been mended.

As an alumna I care very deeply about the university’s future and I genuinely hope that this incident sheds light on the broken chain of policies and procedures that allowed such shockingly disgusting behavior to occur in a publicly funded space. I also hope it leads the University to address the missteps in response to the community’s concerns about misappropriation of funds, time, and general accountability. The University repeatedly LIED about HOW many animals had been killed, WHAT animals had been targeted, WHAT permissions had been granted. These numerous egregious errors frankly display the overall lack of positive administrative guidance that has depressingly become the norm for this institution. I want to see the gas chamber dismantled. I want to see the University of Idaho adopt a primary No Kill Policy for all wildlife on campus in favor of other more ecologically sound management practices like Trap, Neuter, and Release programs. I also hope that this incident leads the University’s top administration to self-reflect and ask itself some really tough questions. If employees are allowed to abuse one another in such a manner, what is stopping them from carrying out a truly heinous crime that would result in loss of human life? Especially if they get away with the torture and murder of thousands of animal lives.

This is not to say the entire administration is rotten. I personally know of many Directors, Chairs, Deans, and other top administrators who take this kind of behavior very seriously. They have dedicated their careers to the University of Idaho and are continuously fighting to protect their programs and faculty from the larger administrative failures of piss poor governance. I salute all of you. You know who you are. And the broader community needs you now. We can all use this as a moment to learn to work together, to respect one another, and to grow.

Or the University’s top administration can continue to turn a blind eye to this and try to cover it up. In which case, I can say that I will wait for another blunder in history. And then the next. And then the next. I will be forced, along with the rest of this amazingly brilliant and vibrant community, to watch the school I love slowly bleed out because of cowardice and hubris as more and more parents become reluctant to send their children to a school that protects such inhumane behavior.

Whether you are an animal lover or not, the University of Idaho’s administration and the facilities personnel directly involved along with Dr. Autenried and his assistant Mrs. Harris have bungled this situation. They have lied, they have abused tax payer dollars by building and using an un-tested, un-approved gas chamber in support of trap and kill programs that are taking place in a public space within city limits, and they have neglected to safe guard the emotional and mental well being of their own students, employees, and community members who are uniformly horrified and disgusted by these practices. These kinds of errors must stop if the school I love is ever going to be a top university to work for, and study at, again.

Does this upset you? You can express you opinions directly to:

Chuck Staben, President of the University of Idaho

(so called Dr.) Peter Autenried, the gas chamber building vet:

Audrey Harris, Assistant to the gas chamber building vet:


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Blessings permalink
    October 6, 2016 22:40

    From my heart to yours, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings far more eloquently than I could ever hope to do. Thank you for your strength and courage — you’ve done my soul good by letting me know there are others who genuinely Get It.


  2. October 6, 2016 11:59

    @blessings thank you. So much.


  3. Brendan permalink
    October 6, 2016 14:41


    I knew you were a good soul when I met you at Bonnaroo 🙂

    You are very inspirational to me.



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