Horse News

BLM Helicopter Stampede Contractor Sues Citizen Journalist

Story by Steven Long ~ Author/Publisher of Horseback Magazine

Cattoors Attempt to Rewrite the Constitution

Wild Horse Stampede Contractors, Dave and Sue Cattoor give the U.S. Constitution the finger

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – A citizen journalist working for The Examiner.com has been sued by the government’s largest BLM “gather” contractor. The suit filed in a rural Juab County, Utah district court charges Maureen Harmonay routinely misrepresented the facts in a series of stories on wild horse roundups in several western states.

Harmonay has filed a denial with the court.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are David and Sue Cattoor, owners of Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc. of Nephi, Utah.

Citizen journalists are recent phenomena, an outgrowth of Internet publishing. Under press freedoms afforded by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, virtually anybody can be a journalist. Unlike in other countries, in the United States no license to practice the craft is required. Such journalists, like their professional brethren, are afforded broad protections under a landmark 1964 Supreme Court ruling, New York Times vs. Sullivan. Since the ruling the legal doctrine has provided safe refuge for a generation of journalists who write about the rich and powerful, often to their subject’s discomfort. The ruling sets very high standards a plaintiff must meet to prevail in a lawsuit. Journalists are largely protected by the doctrine when writing about public officials and public figures such as someone in the news. The plaintiff must prove malice.  Both Cattoors, because of their high profile in the BLM wild horse and slaughter controversies, would likely be considered public figures by the courts.

Harmonay is a Sterling, Massachusetts real estate agent and freelance writer.

“I am a former Thoroughbred bloodstock agent and am passionately interested in the welfare of horses,” she told Horseback Magazine. “I write about equine advocacy and rescue topics, as well as about Thoroughbred pedigree issues.”

Examiner.com is a website that publishes the freelance contributions of local and national writers on a variety of newsworthy topics, including arts, culture, education, food, pets, politics, sport, and travel.

The Cattoors have been fiercely protective of their turf closing off their roundups to journalists. The couple has also threatened other publications and reporters with lawsuits.

The Cattoor’s attorney, Stephen Queensenberry of a Provo, Utah, law firm has written several extremely threatening letters to journalists, publications, and websites, covering the Cattoor’s BLM roundups including one to Harmonay stating, “I want to remind you that you will be litigating pro se in a rural county of a conservative state. Our clients have lived in Juab County for a very long time. It is likely, from our prospective, that a jury might award anywhere from six figures to the low seven figures. Our case is defamation per se, so we do not have to prove any actual damages. If we obtain a judgment, we will pursue it through bankruptcy or anything else.”

“You can see from this brief excerpt how threatening this is,” Harmonay said.

In their years as BLM contractors, the Cattors have billed the government millions.

Sue Cattoor responded to a request for comment by the Horseback saying, “I am sure you have read the lawsuit and what we asked Maureen to do and not to do.  The other defendants – publishers & etc I believe can not be held accountable for what she writes or has written.”

Two defendants including the operators of The Examiner have been dropped from the lawsuit according to Harmonay.

Visit Horseback Magazine by Clicking (HERE)

I, likewise, have been attacked by the Cattoors in an effort to subvert my First Amendment Rights.  Isn’t it incredible that a contractor who works for the Federal Government who is then funded by American taxpayers can believe that they can then sue taxpayers for reporting the truth?  Absolutely mind-bending. My love letter from Sue can be viewed by clicking (HERE).” ~ R.T.

56 replies »

  1. This is ridiculous! The threats are completely transparent. Is there a donation site to help with the legal costs? There should be a citizen’s advocacy group set up to help this woman. It is a sham that the Cattoons want to sue Ms. Harmonay over exposing the truth. Shameful cowardly people they are. If they thought that everything was truthful, then they would not feel as threatened. The American people have a right to know the truth about the injustices done to the Wild Mustangs, Equines and Burros by the supposedly people.

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  2. From “WizeGeek.Com”

    Defamation per se refers to words that injure a person’s reputation without the need to prove the injury has occurred. Per se is a Latin term meaning “by itself” or “inherently”. Defamation per se can occur in writing or when spoken orally. If a person writes defamatory statements about another person, the law calls it libel. When a person expresses defamatory language orally, then the law deems it slander.

    The law in a case of defamation per se presumes the injury, which eliminates the plaintiff’s need to prove injury to his reputation. For example, a local newspaper asserts that a person sexually abused a child. This statement is clearly damaging to a person’s reputation. Hence, it would not be necessary for the person to prove the statement caused injury to his reputation or standing in the community. That does not prevent the newspaper from raising possible defenses to the defamation per se charge, if sued.

    The law recognizes four types of defamation per se in slander cases. The first type is a statement that a person has a loathsome disease. This category is usually restricted to claims of sexually transmitted diseases. The second type is a statement that a person committed a crime of moral turpitude, which means the crime was especially vile or despicable, such as rape or incest. A person suing under these categories would not need to prove special damage, because they are classified as defamation per se in slander.

    The third category of defamation per se in slander is a statement that a person was not chaste. Chaste means a person is a virgin or refrains from sexual intercourse. This historically has been used most often in reference to women. A person suing under this category also would not need to prove damage.

    The final category is a statement that negatively affects a person’s reputation relating to his business or profession. For example, an accountant could file a lawsuit for defamation per se against someone who makes verbal statements that the accountant is dishonest in his practice or lacks the skill to perform his job. In this type of case, the defamatory statement must directly relate to the person’s job. A negative statement unrelated to the job would not fall under this category.

    Most jurisdictions consider libel to be defamation per se. This usually means that a person only needs to prove that a defendant used defamatory language concerning the plaintiff and that defendant published it in some manner. An ordinary plaintiff in libel cases does not need to prove damages, because the law presumes harm. If a plaintiff is a public figure or the matter concerns a matter of public interest, then the plaintiff may need to prove ADDITIONAL elements, including the FALSITY of the statement and fault on the part of a defendant. Some jurisdictions require a plaintiff in libel cases to prove special damage, if the libel is not obviously defamatory.

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    • Thank you for all the technical explanatory details! Technicalities in laws, can often bite the good dog. My mother was a judicial secretary, and I learned quite young about the justice system. Basically, knowledge of laws equals power, and a good lawyer is a major priority!

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  3. Thank you so much to Steven Long for writing about this case!

    Maureen on many levels, is credible, respectable, and I honor her integrity! I am relieved that she will not be fighting this alone anymore! She is a wonderful, humane & honest person, and I am disgusted she is being attacked in this way! Wild horse advocates are well aware of wild horse roundup disasters that Maureen has written truthfully about. There are videos on youtube, among other public information, and even the BLM websites post the deaths and injuries caused in the roundups. I don’t think that anything Maureen has written about is fabricated, so why the lawsuit?

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    • I don’t want my comment misconstrued. I meant Maureen is respectably known in several fields, including the wild horse advocacy & the race horse industry, in real estate, writing and communications.

      I believe she is credible, and respected on all levels! I think that those who know her, or have been touched by her in their lives, would whole heartedly agree!

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  4. Here is some more information on the defamation/libel subject. This looks like a SLAPP lawsuit and very interesting that it comes right before the Slaughter Summit. It gives ole Dave something to talk about at the summit. A SLAPP suit is a “scare tactic” to shut the opposition up.
    http://www.radford.edu/wkovarik/class/law/1.5libel.html
    A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SLAPP_suit
    http://www.radford.edu/wkovarik/class/law/1.5libel.html

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    • Great info, CJ and Barb.

      When I think of all the things we have all said, right here, about the Cattoors, I am amazed by this… and it is done for intimidation and to force Maureen to backdown.
      mar

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    • Exactly what they set their sites on. Obvious intentions, but will be ineffective ultimately I am sure. Maureen’s decision to come out on this, was wise.
      Look at all the support she is getting already this morning! It provides strength and the power of truths to be known. Talk about first amendment rights! NO, we will not shut up. Kudos Maureen, you are the greatest! All of your works are honored and appreciated. I think we are still in America, aren’t we?

      Thanks Barbara for info and links.

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  5. Why Maureen?? I think the Cattoors went shopping through our writers and found one who had connections that might pay off if they were to win. These people want to cause injury to someone who they feel has been unjust? How did this get into court at all? Because these people have money.

    This suit is based on what Maureen wrote about the Owyhee massacre. This deadly roundup was covered up and Laura Leigh’s 1st Amendment rights were violated repeatedly when she attempted to observe there. BLM lied in court to say that 75% of the horses may die if they were not removed in an emergency roundup immediately. The situation was caused from closing gates to hold wild horses within a pre-gathered area that had insufficient water sources. There was plenty of water nearby as Sandra Longley and I both attested to by our visits to Owyhee; mine six weeks before the roundup over two days and hers the weekend of July 16th. It had been a wet Spring. The horses had been held for the convenience of the roundup contractors possibly for weeks when the summer was just heating up.

    This action against Maureen Harmonay should fizzle. That is my belief. I do hope she will be able to get some traction though, and more information about what
    really happened at Owyhee on the public record. Good luck, maureen. mar

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    • Why Maureen? Because she is a brilliant and effective writer, outing those that need to be. Quite sure her writings were much more than a burr in the saddle to Catoor’s.

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      • The main reason that they pushed it further with Maureen was she was too polite to have her attorney write an “FU” letter as we did. Personally, I would welcome the challenge as the discovery would be journalistic fodder and an indictment against the BLM. Remember anyone can sue anyone over anything and they don’t even need a legal leg to stand on to do it, and the Cattoors have just went over the edge.

        The Cattoors have more to hide than most people realize ans so DOES the BLM, check out Dave’s indictment in the “Box” widget on the right.

        I say, bring it on.

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      • Dave has a guilty plea on his record for illegal activities related to wild horses. He is already known for killing horses, and has admitted to shooting horses while acting as a government contractor. Remember the light colored horse that he and his wife said was blind, so it was shot from the helicopter? No veterinary proof the horse had any physical issues at all.
        The results of recklessly rounding up horses are clear and there is no need for journalists — citizen or professional — to lie about them., How many horses (that we know of) died as a result of being run too hard, too fast during Calico?
        The truth: The Cattoors defame their own characters every time they round up America’s wild horses and burros. They CHOOSE to hire “cowboys” who don’t know how to handle wild animals. They CHOOSE to hire pilots who will actually hit wild horses with the copter skids. They CHOOSE to use the same ineffective, dangerous methods each and every time they begin one of these tragic round ups. Their own choices are the root of their problems — not the person who holds up a mirror and says, “Hey, look at yourselves…”
        And to top it all off, it’s not as if the Cattoors have been nice and have written civilly about advocates. Didn’t Sue actually write a letter on her attorney’s letter head, giving the impression that the letter was from the attorney himself? Isn’t there a law against THAT?!
        The sad part is that now Maureen has to go through this ordeal — win or lose. Lawsuits are exhausting, time consuming, and they’re expensive –and there’s no coming away unscathed. Lots of good energy heading your way Maureen…

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    • And we have it on video from the NYT that good ole Dave is talking about moving horses via a trailer and taking them to town.

      And what about the horse that Sue talked about that her husband shot with a high powered rifle from the helicopter?

      Even my bathroom doesn’t stink as bad as the bull from these people.

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    • I totally agree with Margaret! I’ve SEEN the videos of him talking about “not giving them the picture they want!” – the one where the helicopter skid knocked the black horse down as it was running, and the cinnamon colored stallion that tried to jump the fence and fell back in the pen and broke his neck! And those “cowboys” stood around talking while he laid there and died slowly!! There’s enough evidence on tape and video to blow this entire operation out of the water – so it’s time to start replaying those videos for people who seem to not be aware of what has gone on for the last year – including the colt with the hooves torn off from the “gentle run to the pens” last winter. Enough is enough!

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  6. More chances now for news stories and exposure of how many threating letters the Cartoors send out. Just what they deserve, more media to expose the contractors that took the taxpayers millions and killed wild horses. They are like the ‘Evil Beverly Hillbillies”…more money than morals or common sense!

    Maureen Harmonay I love your horse articles, and please write plenty about these BLM contractors and what they are doing. I would think the national media and International media will take hold of this story and one day we will see you on the Today show 🙂

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  7. I hope Maureen does not back down, these are unfounded charges, in the first place this goes to show everyone that this is so messed up, We bring charges up that sound and have video and photo and peoples eye witnessed accounts they get thrown out of court, Now this tells us right here right now if this doesnt get thrown out , that there is an extreme amount of corruption here…………………… with the Media, we will get Justice !!!! We need to demand we be heard Nationally !!! This is our Mustangs only chance for Freedom, we must utilize the Media to the fullest extent, These Idiots are mes sen with Americas Ultimate Representation Of FREEDOM…….. ….OUR MUSTANGS< Without them there would be no west !!!!! We must not falter……….

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  8. This sounds like another love letter from the Catoors.

    Perhaps, if they don’t like what the journalist writes, maybe they should allow the journalists to observe the roundup so there is no misunderstanding. Of course, Maureen or anyone else can write anything they want to regarding the nations public activities. The Catoors have now shot themselves once again with their ridiculous lawsuit. This lawsuit may be the best yet for advocates of our wild horses. Let’s look at it as a positive force.

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  9. AWESOME R.T. Who has more to hide >???????? Exactly !!!!! Open Mouth Catoors insert foot, sit on Brain…………………………………

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  10. One of the people commenting on the article in HORSEBACK MAGAZINE has a VERY good suggestion–Maureen should countersue and contact ACLU, as this is a 1st Ammendment case. This should be given as much publicity as possible. She might win a helicopter.

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  11. Intimidation of the public to try to prevent reporting on round ups. Apparently sanctioned by the US government. And when the lawyer states in his letter to you that horses would starve by the hundreds if they were not rounded up is a fabrication. There is no proof of this. The American people have seen nothing remotely close to this on the range. I have, however, seen a foal starved to death in a government holding facility, which would not have happened if he wasn’t taken from his mother.

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  12. If they can’t stand the heat, they need to find another line of work. I hear there’s plenty of cattle out there. Course might not pay as much as us taxpayers do.

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  13. I remember a story regarding and incident with Laura Leigh when she was attempting to go to one of the roundups, when a helicopter was threating her above her vehicle. And the Cattors are saying that they follow the law and safe practices?

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  14. WOW !!!! Who is misrepresenting what !!!!!!!!!! OMG !!!!! This is ludicrous, if there have been any any misrepresenting facts of any kind , do we not have scores of evidence Representing whos Misrepresenting facts???????

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  15. Dear Sue and Dave, if you don’t want folks to speak out against you, stop doin’ what you’ve been doin’ to the wild ones for so many years!!!

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  16. The truth cannot be changed. Cattoor may the the next outfit shooting themselves in the foot. I hope so. Thank you Maureen for documenting the truth. There will be a limit to the sabotaging by evil, they will now shake a tsunami of all the crimes on their resume – visible to the public even more. Pitiful bunch – may this be their last straw to get away with all the illegal tax funded crimes they have committed. GO MAUREEN and ALL PRESS to document the TRUTH !!!!!!!!!

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  17. Sounds like the Cattoors & the BLM are running scared, & rightfully so!! Usually it’s the guilty party who tries to turn the tables & blame someone else, or tries to change the subject. If they weren’t scared, they wouldn’t be going after those that are exposing them & their evil deeds! Revenge is SWEET !! Maureen & what she stands for will prevail.I have a feeling that 2011 will be like Heaven for our wild friends!I wish all a very Happy New Year, especially the horses!

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  18. I think it’s great. The Catoors WILL lose and it will be one more nail in the coffin for them. This is exactly what we need- more exposure, more things documented through the courts/on the books. This will be in the papers, it’s already all over the internet. HANG IN THERE MAUREEN, thanks for taking one for the team! If nothing less- she is supported & loved for her work, the only haters being the Catoors who are loathsome people anyway! I think these dramatics are some of what this crusade is in need of, though there are many that don’t agree with that. Publicity for the mustang is good. Awareness.

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    • Kimberly, you are so right Its awareness that will save them…. Any coverage is good even if not so good it creates people to find out the facts, this is were the Mustangs will prevail, people inquiring to get the real facts…………… America has always had inquiring minds, this will uncover the truth , once the truth is known its a win win for the Mustangs…………….. Bye Bye BLM and Ken Salazar………………

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    • I LOVE “FED SPENDING”!!! I have a whole folder on BLM WH&B Contractors of all types and the billions they’ve made. Unfortunately, the records on this site only go back to 2000.

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      • Makes me wonder what you and I paid them in 2010 … since “business” seemed to have picked up this past year …

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      • Yes. Perhaps you can explain to me (in brief) how Cattoor Livestock and perhaps others can get these large federal contracts assigned to them without bidding on them. Am I correct in that? Don’t most federal jobs have to out for bid? I know this is a little off the subject but might prove to be “interesting” for a suit someday…

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    • Hope you will “take it and run with it” … if it will help. Waiting to hear from someone why the Cattoors (and perhaps Sun J?) don’t have to bid on their federal contracts…

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  19. When you can’t shoot down the message, shoot the messenger.

    Good news, bad news…Ms. Harmonay is going to have to find some way of response and that usually calls for cash…..this trial, depending upon the judge may have the possibility of blowing the situation open more than a crack for the advocates and the equines. Don’t want to jeopardize case, but the Cattoors (like BLM) control a ton of information (note…I didn’t say facts, just like the Fed killers). The judge allows evidence and in our recent experiences to protect the killers and meatmen, bust their judicial arses to help the killers.

    I say (haven’t read all posts yet) get a call into every ACLU office in the nation. This woman is going to have to spend some serious cash to defend herself. Actually, I should say this JOURNALIST.

    Notice, they picked the Examiner journalist…hhmmmm, I wonder why.

    We are here and do what is necessary.

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  20. BTW…something is up with the killers because this level of activity means they are scared of something. I’m not talking about Killtoor or Kook’em or Walrus or Doink.

    This is a heavy push recently and those mentioned numbskulls couldn’t put a bar-b-que together on time, on budget. NOPE…they are getting help with this ash and trash and it isn’t just certain breed groups…..this is BIG, BIG COPORATE AG that can’t sell out fast enough.

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  21. Have you been able to document exactly how much money the government does pay Cattoor Livestock Roundup? It would be interesting to hear her attorney’s response to that amount. Wish we could stop the roundups somehow.

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  22. Just my letting off steam and my opinions about horse killers.David and Sue Cattoor, how many wild horses has David shot from the helicoptor? over your 40 year history of rounding up horses using aircraft?

    How many got broken legs from being terrorised by your aircraft to the point of falling over cliffs or in to holes or you BLM contractors getting them stuck on ledges? How many horses David and Sue Cattoor, have had their eyes blinded by 100mph helicoptor wind blasting sand and rock at wild horses?

    How many wild horses got road founder over your 40 year history from your miles of distance round-ups? (road founder is concusion damage to the hooves, where the feet swell and the hoof detaches from the damage) race horses only run one mile, endurance horses go slow with rest periods and Vet check-ups…why do you think its ok to run horses for 3, 10, 20 plus miles with no breaks and no water or carefull re-hydrating after sweating off 100lbs an hour?

    How many horses, including wild horses has your Cartoor gang rounded up (include your horse-breeding ranch) and sent to slaughter. Include the wild horses the Cartoor man got his criminal history from…how many horses over your history have
    David and Sue Cattoor sent to slaughter? how many of those horses were your personal horses that had received drugs that are proven to cause cancer in humans?

    How does it feel when you open a horse trailor and there are dead horses trampled/kicked/bitten to death David and Sue Cattoor ??

    How does it feel David and Sue Cattoor, when a pregnant mare misscarrys her foal because the aircraft run or your trailer rides were to stressfull?? must have been thousands of aborted foals being that in just one round-up you had 10s of misscarried foals.

    How does it feel to have killed thousands of horses David and Sue Cattoor?

    Why David and Sue Cattoor do you feel the need to take out your anger on people who would never harm a horse or send it to horse slaughter??

    Internets a wonderfull thing isn’t it..so hard for a cockroach to stay hidden huh David and Sue Cattoor?

    Maybe no feelings at all David and Sue Cattoor when animals die? Experts say animal killers start ignoring the deaths and need more thrills in their life.

    In my opinion David and Sue Cattoor, deflect the horror of thousands of dead horses towards ‘hate’ to horse lovers and get angry, more angry than a ‘normal’ person. Angry enough to want to sue people over revealing facts of animal abusers and dead horses.

    just me letting off steam, I am one American who hates horse killers..there is no DO OVER or anyway to excuse the thousands of horses they have killed. I am sure there are millions of people who feel the same way as I do about David and Sue Cattoor,
    And all your threatening letters and paying lawyers over news stories about the horror of David and Sue Cattoor,horse killing just make them look like the evil slimey cockroaches they already are.

    My opinions, my rant, may Karma smite you David and Sue Cattoor,and give you what you deserve!!

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    • Laura, you reflect the way many of us feel and nailed their character, or the lack of it, with your last sentence. Perhaps you give them too much credit for being slightly human to expect them to have any feelings whatsoever about what they do. These sub-human contractors and all the rest such as Sun J Livestock of Vernal, Utah, and anyone who would work for them do not deserve the privilege of continuing to use oxygen. Just my humble opinion.

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  23. Everything I’ve heard or read about the Catoors is despicable. This has to be greed. One can almost see them salivating. I wonder if they killed kittens as children?

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