NORFOLK, VA–A Norfolk man who clandestinely euthanized pets for a fee was arrested late Friday for cruelty to animals, local authorities said.
With the help of customers turned informants, Norfolk police apprehended Michael Chiveaux of Ghent after a brief investigation. According to legal documents, Chiveaux allegedly received old or infirm dogs and cats at night from owners who wanted to put them to sleep. For a modest sum paid under the table, Chiveaux would then euthanize the animals in his basement by starving and dehydrating them to death.
His customers said Chiveaux was secretive about his methods.
“I asked him how he put them to sleep,” commented one elderly woman who wished to remain anonymous, “but he wouldn’t explain it to me. He only said that my cat would die quickly and painlessly. A trusted friend recommended him; that’s the only reason I was willing to take his word for it.”
As she continued, clearly struggling to master her grief, a tear rolled down her cheek.
“Knowing what I know today, I wish I hadn’t been so trusting or so eager to save money. My poor Felix! He didn’t deserve to die like that.”
Chiveaux’s animal death clinic escaped scrutiny until the curiosity of one customer, Bob Schundler of Chesapeake, got the better of him.
“A day or two after I left my dog with Chiveaux, I felt this urge to spy on him,” Schundler said. “He could be cooking and eating these animals for all we know. Somebody had to make sure he was on the up and up.”
Schundler returned to Chiveaux’s residence after midnight one evening and found a ground level window with a view into the basement, which was lit at the time. Interior shutters were closed, but Schundler was able to peer through a missing slat. What he saw horrified him.
“There were pets everywhere on the floor,” Schundler said. “They were just lying there, not moving. The dogs were on their sides, ribs heaving as they gasped for breath, with their tongues lolled out on the ground. In almost every case, they were bleeding from the eyes and from their tongues. Many of them had lost their fur. It was sickening.”
Schundler immediately went to authorities, who arrested Chiveaux within hours.
An animal control officer at the scene described the grim spectacle that met him when he arrived at Chiveaux’s home.
“It was like a Nazi death camp for pets,” he said. “Thank God [Schundler] caught [Chiveaux]. Most of the animals were too far gone to save, but we were able to rehabilitate some.”
From his prison cell, Chiveaux granted reporters an interview to defend his ghoulish occupation.
“These animals had no quality of life when they were brought to me,” he said. “They were so old they couldn’t eat, run, or frolic. Would you want to live in a state like that? I’m sure if these animals were able to speak to us, they would have begged someone to end their misery. Well, I heard their cries, and I answered them.”
When asked about his method of euthanization, Chiveaux became agitated.
“You don’t know anything about starvation and dehydration,” he snapped. “According to scientific studies done by the most reputable veterinary research clinics, this is a harmless and inexpensive way to euthanize domesticated animals. They can’t feel anything until right before death, when they experience a burst of euphoria and pleasure. It really is more humane than it looks.”
Kathryn Koryk, an official spokesperson for PETA, called Chiveaux “a monster.”
“How you could do that to a helpless animal — regardless of how old and sick it is — and call yourself compassionate, I’ll never understand,” Koryk said. “PETA applauds the citizens who helped authorities bring this man’s cruelty to an end. They rescued a number of pets that would have otherwise suffered a terrible fate.”
Chiveaux will appear before a local judge next Monday to be tried on twelve counts of cruelty to animals. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of $5,000 in fines and up to 24 years in jail.
DISCLAIMER: This story is completely fictitious. It is a commentary on the Terri Schiavo case. As such, its purpose and meaning should be self-evident.