Otto, Another Buttermilk Lane Car Casualty – December 6, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Otto Ryan-Sargent in the Buttermilk Lane sunshine. Photo courtesy Julie Ryan

On Saturday Nov. 19, 2011 at approximately 1 p.m., a teal honda CRV sped down Buttermilk Lane toward Samoa Boulevard. It struck and killed Otto Ryan-Sargent in the 1800 Block of the street and brought a violent and ugly death to our gentle and beloved cat. The driver of the teal CRV did not stop despite people screaming and waving at them.

Otto was truly a magical one of a kind cat. He had so much personality that everyone who met him adored him instantly and loved watching him sit and give hi-fives for treats.

He had a large, expressive, lion-like face. A long and tall grey cat, he weighed almost 15 lbs., and his subtle tabby coat ranged from pale silver to dark pewter at the tip of his tail.

He was such a huge part of our lives and we loved him more than anything. He slept in the bed with us every night, usually under the covers with his head on the pillow just like a person. He serenely curled up on our laps in the evenings to be petted and snuggled. He followed us everywhere in the house. He was always there wanting to be part of the action whether we were reading, cooking or watching a movie.

He did a million things to amuse us. There is nothing as silly as seeing a 15 lb. lion of a cat chasing his tail as if he were a kitten.

Otto loved going into the fenced front and backyard for supervised outdoor time. Unfortunately, he would sometimes find ways to become unsupervised, and I would usually find him next door and bring him in. I always told him to be careful, because people drive too fast and don’t pay attention.

The cruel irony of this is that he did get out of my sight and I was out searching for him to bring him in the house and keep him safe. He was farther up the street than he had ever gone (two houses away) I saw the CRV run him over, and ran as fast as I could to him.

Two people were kind enough to stop and offer help. I scooped him in my arms, and we rushed him to the vet. I knew he wouldn’t make it, but I had to try.

Mike and I cannot express how incredibly painful this has been. He was only eight-and-one-half years old. He wasn’t just our cat, he was the closest thing to a son we’ll ever have. He brought so much joy into our lives, and joy to everyone who knew him.

Living on Buttermilk Lane, we daily witness people driving too fast through our neighborhood. All of our neighbors have lost pets to speeding cars over the years as well. Each and every time it is painful and tragic.

The City has yet to respond to neighbors requests, letters and petitions for traffic calming measures. I am going to add this letter of heartbreak to the many others submitted by our neighbors over the years.

Arcata, I can only hope that Otto’s death is not in vain, otherwise all the talk about exemplary quality of life means nothing.

With heavy hearts,

Julie Ryan and Mike Sargent

Sunny Brae

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16 Responses to “Otto, Another Buttermilk Lane Car Casualty – December 6, 2011”

  1. Domesticated cats a.k.a “House cats” belong in the house. Cats are easily alarmed, freeze up and run fast and without thought of direction when startled. These facts have been known since the first domestication of felines thousands of years ago.

    If you let your house cat out of the house you might as well load up your deer rifle and use them for target practice. Most real cat lovers never let their cats outside. I have had 11 cats in the past 45 years. Not one single one ever went beyond the front door. The oldest one lived to be 27 and the youngest 23.

    Lesson learned (the hardest way); keep your damn house cat in the house. You don’t let your goldfish swim around in the pond, your parrot fly around the neighborhood or your dog do wind sprints across town and back… Why let your cat run amuck in the middle of the street?

  2. 1. It’s amok, not amuck. 2. Your argument contains several zingers seemingly intended to cause further anguish to the bereaved. Congratulations, you probably succeeded. 3. There’s nothing in your case calling for the speeders to take any responsibility for their actions, or for the reckless driver to have stopped after hitting the animal.

    Basically, your case is that we have to clear the streets to preserve the supremacy of people passing this through neighborhood at excessive speed. It’s one big blame-the-victim tirade with zero compassion for the pet owner.

    Were your animal to die in an accident, I wonder how you’d feel about such a rude, anonymous attack?

  3. That’s not the case at all. Although you’re spell check button is strong your comprehension skills are weak.

  4. Everything which was stated, Mr. Amok is purely fact. Whether it was phrased in an aggressive tone or not matters not. While it is true that folks shouldn’t go speeding thru residential zones it is also true that 99% of drivers (on this planet at least) speed a regular basis. It is also true that many cats and dogs are hit on a daily basis in the United States from drivers obeying speed limits. I have in my 40+ year driving career killed one dog and one cat while driving. While the dog was an at-speed-limit death the cat was actually 10 to 15 under.

    It is also true that as a driver we have many obstacles to deal with on the road. To intentionally place literally billions of others in the road worldwide is nothing other than pure evil. To throw a cat onto the road in the dark in front of a sixteen year-old or a seventy year-old is pure b.s.

    Cats are not native species therefor should not be running free. Many cat owners fail to spay and neuter their animals creating ecological disaster. Cats are responsible for decimating native bird species all over the world; another ecological disaster. We don’t turn our dogs, birds, turtles. frogs, iguanas, goldfish and toddlers out to wreak havoc in the city streets. Why must we subject our cats and our drivers to this nightmare?

    The facts are these;

    1. In this specific case the “victim” is the aggressor, the violator, the one in the wrong.
    2. Domesticated cats cause damage to the environment and do not belong outdoors.
    3. If you don’t want your house cat dead keep it in the house.
    4. House cats that are kept in the house live perfectly healthy and happy lives and live 15 to 20 years longer then house cats aloud to roam free.
    5. If you want your house cat dead let it out of the house.
    6. House cats allowed to roam free contract disease, flees, tics and parasites.
    7. House cats allowed to roam free get into fights with other animals and can be injured or injure other animals.

    For some folks with a heart it is just as hard being the driver of the vehicle as it is the owner of the pet that died. I speak from experience.

    Keep your dogs, cats and toddlers out of the street folks. We’ll all be better off. A word to the wise, not a word to intend pain. The truth hurts. I believe someone once said that. If you wish to hide from truth and reality don’t write a newspaper, another word to the wise.

    Thank you for your consideration and consciousness.

  5. I guess cars are native species, then, and all who die under their wheels are in the wrong, maybe even pure evil.

    If that’s the case, I sure as hell don’t want to go to your petting zoo, and I just tore up your invitation to mine.

  6. Listen simpleton; we all know cars and humans living in permanent structures and not moving with the seasons are not natural. That goes without saying. You’re avoiding the facts and the reality of the situation with your silliness. It’s not a silly situation.

    The fact is that we have created a sociological/economic system that requires cars and people to live in tight communities. What it doesn’t require is that we introduce more invasive/non-endemic species into the region than we already have, turn them loose on the city and then start blaming society and cars for their deaths. It’s really quite ridiculous.

    My only point is simple problems can be solved simply. If you don’t want to die don’t run into the street. The same goes for all species. If we can help this along by keeping our animals contained we just may be better off for it.

    There’s absolutely no need to be a smart ass. I didn’t mean any harm by my comments. It just upsets me when folk’s loved ones are senselessly destroyed in a situation that is simply avoidable.

    That’s all. Try to have a nice day.

    Sorry for the loss of your loved ones.

    p.s. petting zoos are actually pretty horrific and ridiculous. Animal rehabilitation and education centers make a bit more sense. Enjoy.

  7. Again, nothing whatsoever about reckless drivers taking responsibility.

    This cars-are-king viewpoint is at the basis of the death toll along Buttermilk and the other speeder-wracked streets in Arcata.

  8. Mark Sailors

    Speeders suck.
    I drive 25mph in Arcata, when I drive.
    I also keep my pets on a leash, don’t smoke in the park, or poop or pee on the bank…

    Sorry for the loss of your beloved pet.

  9. Julie Ryan

    Mark, thank you for your kind words. I miss Otto terribly. I am disappointed to see that there are people who that because I let my cat out for one hour a week with supervision he deserved to be killed because he got out of my sight. As if I don’t have enough guilt over this. If I had found him a moment sooner he’d be alive, but if the teal CRV had been doing the speed limit – Otto would probably be alive.

    If anyone else has further comments, have some courage and use your real name.

  10. I’m disgusted by the comments here. Julie, I am so very sorry for your loss. Otto sounds like he was a delightful friend and I hope you won’t blame yourself. I really wish people would drive the speed limit in Arcata. It’s a speed that humans and animals have time to react to. When people go too fast, there’s simply not enough time for anyone to get out of the way, or for the driver to stop in response to pets or people in their path.

  11. I am completely disgusted with this whole thing! What a bunch of loons! Those f’n reckless drivers should be banned from these here city streets, the whole lot of ’em! Going 30 in a 25 should be a hangin’ offense in these here parts. I always obey the speed limit. In fact when they changed those 55 signs to 65 I thought they were insane! I still go 55 in the fast lane! You’d have to be a lunatic to drive 65! I have never sped once in my entire life, NEVER!!!

    I let my toddler out of the stroller one hour per week and let her out into the street and may god strike dead the driver the hits her! My toddler has every right in the world to crawl on all fours thru the city streets especially at night when everyone should be home in front of their TV anyway! How dare people drive at night in this town?!?

    Arcata (especially Sunny Brae) should be a place where infants, toddlers and felines alike can roam freely through the city streets!

    Damn those who think differently! I am god! I am right!

    Who out there is with me?

    Can I hear an AMEN!?!

  12. Lydia

    So sorry for your loss, Julie and Mike. As an HSU parent I can only hope and believe most Arcadians are better than the few ugly comments posted here.

  13. Jon

    If he were your son, would you let him out to run across the road and get hit by a car?

    Streets are for cars, that car was doing nothing wrong, however your cat was.
    Especially if you knew that people drive fast in your neighborhood.

  14. Jon,

    Apart from your profound empathy for the bereaved, I take issue with this, “that car was doing nothing wrong.”

    The car was speeding. The driver didn’t stop to take responsibility.

    There are no sidewalks on upper Buttermilk Lane. Cars don’t rule our lives, and they don’t own the roads, which are for everyone – pedestrians and pets included.

  15. Ava

    The first comments (minus the ones that argue against it) is cruel and unnecessary. People who love their cats might also like to let their cats out supervised so they can enjoy the outdoors. Cats like visual and other sensory input.
    Drivers need to be more mindful EVERYWHERE. Pets, pedestrians, kids, and cyclists suffer all too often from one person’s hurry behind the wheel. I have been hit by a car before when I was out riding my bike attentively, watching traffic, in the bike lane, doing everything as I should. It was not enough to save me (or my bike) from someone turning left.
    It is not always the animal’s fault.
    It is not always the owner’s fault.
    It is not always the cyclist’s fault.
    Nor even is it always the driver’s fault.
    (Maybe the afternoon sun is in your eyes, or you’re checking the clock. But this does not excuse you from your responsibility.)
    However. People need to understand that driving is a dangerous privilege, and that cars are not the only damn things on the roads!
    Drivers, please be aware! And be sensitive to the pain of others.

    To Julie and Ryan– my sincerest condolences. Cats are wonderful and charismatic family members.

  16. Sus

    I’m so sorry about your loss of “Otto” and I understand how much you loved him.

    Just would like to add that reckless driving is happening everyday throughout the U.S. What disturbs me about this story is that the people didn’t stop. It seems to me that It has become acceptable behavior to avoid any/all accountability for ones actions. I totally disagree with this idea and hope that it will turnaround soon!

    To the people that feel that driving fast in a residential neighborhoods is ok… just remember that KARMA can be a real hard thing to deal when it comes home to you.


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