Wilbur has gone national, with the Sunday Times and The Mail on Sunday picking up on it. Glad to see that the Mail's readers at least are on Wilbur's side - take that, you cat haters! - apart from this person, who sounds like he should be one of my regulars:
"What a story, someone's poor cat gets eaten by a Python, wonderful, (well not for the cat owner) It's so nice to be able to hear of something in this country being able to do what it should do without nu labour trying to get there pound of flesh out of it first."
- John, Bedford, 8/8/09
As you can see from the JusticeforWilbur website, Wilbur's owners had been trying to get the Mail interested for a fortnight or more, to no avail. So what changed? Basically, a BEP journo saw it on my blog, called me up, I put them in touch with the family, it made the BEP's front page on Saturday, and then the nationals picked up on it. I say this not in an attempt to claim any credit, but as an example of how the mainstream media works these days. Of course, Wilbur's owners (I hesitate to use that word with cats!) could have gone to the BEP first, rather than holding out for a national - but it's all worked out well, and the petition now has more than 7000 signatories. Next stage will be to see what response I get from Alan Johnson; I wrote to him when this first came up.
I've just been looking at the comments on the BEP website, and it's interesting to see that the owner of the python - which is named Squash - has had his say. I think we need to make one thing clear - I don't see the issue as being what happened to Wilbur in Squash's own garden, or the danger of a child wandering into Squash's garden, which seems an unlikely occurence. The question is, what would have happened if Squash had escaped? We know, don't we, that snakes are 'escape artists'. I'm told the walls of the garden were low - and how high would a wall have to be to contain a 13 foot python? I don't see this campaign as being about protecting cats from unforeseen predators lurking in neighbours' gardens; I see it as being about making sure the neighbourhood is safe.