Nobody WANTS to Kill Animals – Pittsylvania Co Edition

The Pittsylvania Co pound in Virginia has an 80% kill rate for cats.  Pete Boswell, the county’s chief ACO, has an excuse:

Boswell said the county’s shelter picks up feral cats throughout the year, which drives up rates, he said.

It only drives up kill rates if you actually kill the cats.  But that’s probably just me being persnickety.

Most cats impounded by Pittsylvania Co get sent to the Danville Area Humane Society.  Which has a 93% kill rate for cats.  So long frying pan, hello fire.  Paulette Dean, the Danville pound’s executive director also has an excuse:

“Have you seen the number of cats we receive?” Dean said via email Friday.

Apparently if you saw the number of cats, you’d be all right with killing 93% of them.  Because number.

The Pittsylvania facility has no director and never has had one in its 30 years of existence.  The ACOs go out on calls and the pound is unattended while they are in the field.  But they’re doing the best they can:

Boswell said the shelter makes every effort to adopt out its animals.

[…]

As for adoptions, Pittsylvania County animal shelter officials promote them by running four photos of animals per week in a local weekly publication, Boswell said.

Four photos.  Not one – not two – not three – but FOUR PHOTOS.  The county really is doing all the things to save lives.  Except TNR.  They don’t do that.  Because it’s stupid:

“It has not been proven that it reduces the number of cats,” Boswell said. Of course it decreases euthanasia rates if they’re picked up and released back into the wild, Boswell said.

Yeah I mean OF COURSE if you aren’t actually killing the cats, it makes the kill rate go down.  That doesn’t mean it’s some kind of good idea or anything.

Hound at the Pittsylvania Co pound who was killed while rescuers offered to save him.

Hound at the Pittsylvania Co pound who was killed while rescuers offered to save him.

Pittsylvania Co has 3 ACOs, one of whom has been out sick the past 3 months.  If someone wants to adopt or rescue an animal and the place is locked, they have the option of waiting around to see if an ACO shows up.  Can’t call because no one is there to answer.  Can’t email because no one has time for such tedium, as evidenced by the case of a starving, mangy hound who was picked up by Pittsylvania Co last month and killed while offers to save him were ignored:

[Franklin Co HS director Anita] Scott says she made several attempts to contact the shelter to save the dog but says her calls and emails went unanswered. “So, there was never a reply.”

Boswell claims he didn’t have time between himself and the other officer to respond to Scott’s emails. “The email says “Is this guy going to be released. That’s all it says. The next day I didn’t get to reply due to the work schedule.”

The email did not say DO NOT KILL in red typeface with many exclamation points and the “oh no” emoticon and anyway I can barely squeeze in all the animal killings what with the four photos a week and such.

So many more cupcakes are needed.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Texas ACO Leaves Cats to Suffer and Die in Truck

Michael Arista, an ACO in Big Spring, Texas, reportedly picked up “numerous” cats at some unknown time last week and put them in the metal boxes on his ACO vehicle which he left in a police station parking lot in 95 degree heat.  A police officer noticed the vehicle on Saturday morning and contacted the on-call ACO.  When that ACO arrived and opened up the metal boxes, it was discovered that 4 of the cats had died.

A local news reporter contacted ACO Arista who reportedly characterized the incident as a mistake and complained that the ACOs in Big Springs are overworked.  And just in case that doesn’t shut you up:

Arista added that the cats were feral, very sick and would likely be euthanized.

See.  They were just gonna be killed anyway so what’s all the fuss about?

Cue the local enablers:

“People like to vilify and put the blame on the Animal Control officers and it really comes down to the system as a whole and the changes that need to be made,” said Alison Herm, Volunteer with Relocation Rescue.

[…]

“Unfortunately, there are so many feral cats that if Animal Control traps them, they are so feral that there is nothing they can do for them but to euthanize them,” said Herm.

So many, so feral.  *shrug*  I guess it’s just off to Killville.  Never mind all the communities doing TNR for their feral cats.  They probably don’t have so many, so feral.  Big Spring is unique!

Photo by Casey Post

This is the cat I’d like to feed enablers to.  (Photo by Casey Post)

ACO Arista has been placed on administrative leave while the city investigates itself in the matter.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Shelter How To: Identifying Feral Cats and Reuniting Lost Cats with Owners

Elimination of the mandatory holding periods for stray cats impounded by shelters is part of what I refer to as the war on cats.  Cats deserve the same protections as are provided to dogs at shelters, including a mandatory holding period so their owners can reclaim them.

Groups who participate in the war on cats by promoting the absurd notion that shelters should immediately dump adoptable stray cats back on the streets instead of sheltering them attempt to justify this betrayal by claiming that sheltering cats is hard work.  Granted, reuniting lost cats with their owners is hard work and identifying truly feral cats among the many scared cats at a shelter is also hard work.

I think it’s reasonable to ask how the people actually doing this hard work manage to avoid throwing up their hands and dumping all their stray cats back on the streets.  So I did.  Specifically, I asked three directors of shelters where lifesaving is the priority how cats are determined to be feral vs. socialized and how cats are reunited with owners.  Their responses are below.

Mason, an adoptable cat at UPAWS

Mason, an adoptable cat at UPAWS

Lareina Van Strien, Manager at Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter (UPAWS) in Michigan:

At UPAWS this is not a black and white answer, although it used to be. In the past, if a cat reacted in ways such as climbed the walls of his kennel or the room, refused to use the litter box, charged anyone that came near, avoided touching at all cost, etc, that cat would have been considered feral or semi-social. But we have learned that this black and white categorization does not hold true. We have seen cats that come from loving homes act feral when they arrive, climbing the ways, refusing to be touched for weeks on end and we have seen cats that we know were born outside, that were never touched by a human, that were never fed by a human decide after a few weeks of socialization with staff that they don’t mind humans so very much. So at this time at UPAWS deciding if a cat is feral vs. socialized takes time. We give the cat time to settle in, to adjust, to learn that humans bring food and cookies, we let them get used to our smells and our presence. How long we will do this will depend on the individual animal, their history and their progress. Our decision to label a cat feral, semi-social or socialized is an individual decision, because these cats are individuals. If, after time, we decide a cat is truly feral and will never enjoy the company of humans, we work hard to find that cat placement at a barn or safe environment so that cat has a chance at life in a way that makes that cat happy.

P.S – I happened to have adopted a ‘feral’ kitty for my barn two years ago. This cat we knew for sure was born outside and living in an abandoned building. She stayed at the shelter for over 2 months, getting socialized and used to people, but she was never comfortable and terribly unhappy. So I placed her in my barn. She lived out there all summer and was doing great. But winter came, and it was a horrible winter, so I live-trapped her again and brought her inside. She climbed the walls and hid under the floor for two weeks. But, after talking to my other cats, I guess she decided to come out. And now that summer is here I can’t seem to get her back outside! :) She is a very happy indoor kitty.

We have a variety of ways that we try to reunite cats with their owners. Social media is hugely successful in getting pets home. We try to build our facebook following to make sure we are reaching as many people as possible. We take clear pictures of the newly arrived stray and post it on facebook right away. We ask people to share share share! We also have a wonderful group in the community that runs a facebook page called Lost Paws of the U.P. They work very hard to reunite owners and pets. They follow lost ads on craigs list, social media and in the paper and they work to match them up with found pets. They are hugely successfully and very diligent. At UPAWS we also take lost reports. We make sure to get as much info as possible and we look at ever stray animal and compare it to those reports. We encourage owns to be sure to come into the shelter and look, to make posters for their area, to post on social media and to look for their cat frequently. We report all our strays to the local paper ever night and we also make sure to post our strays on our website. We also microchip all our cats that are adopted and leave UPAWS and we send all our adopted cats out with break-away collar.

Daytona, an adoptable cat at the HS

Daytona, an adoptable cat at the HS of Fremont Co

Doug Rae, director of the Humane Society of Fremont Co in Colorado:

We treat all animals as individuals. This applies to cats, dogs, bunnies, hamsters, ferrets, birds, whatever we get. Just as we work to make dogs safe that appear “aggressive” in appearance, we do the same for cats. It’s been my experience that some cats are overly stressed when entering a shelter (living in a small cage maybe for the first time in their life), meaning their immune system becomes compromised, making life even worse for a scared kittie. So we give cats the necessary time to become accustomed to the shelter, to our staff, and to our volunteers. It might be a day or two, it might be a week, it might be longer. Like dogs, we give cats the time and space they need to feel safe so we can see who they truly are.

If the cat is not responsive to the time and space we give them or to our efforts to socialize with them, then we have a much better idea on the cats temperament. But again, that determination is never made on intake. Not even with a cat that appears feral on intake. To tag any animal as being this or that, or to place an animal into a black or white temperament test on intake, is not fair to the cat or to our life-saving community committed to saving lives.

We have a lost and found Facebook page that received intakes (dogs and cats) are posted on to try and have the cat reclaimed by it’s owner. This posting happens at the time of intake.

An adoptable cat at the Allegany Co Animal Shelter, as pictured on Facebook.

An adoptable cat at the Allegany Co Animal Shelter, as pictured on Facebook.

Peter Masloch, director of the Allegany Co Animal Shelter in Maryland:

It is not always easy to determine by intake if a cat is feral or not. Many cats are scared when coming to the shelter. We had several cases where we thought a cat was feral but then after several days it turned out the cat actually was very lovely. I know that many shelters are doing so called “behavior tests” on cats. We don’t do that. The most important factor is time. If we receive a new cat and we are not sure if it is a feral cat or just a scared cat, we just give the cat time to adjust. Usually after 3 or 4 days we can tell if a cat is truly feral or not. If she is feral, we get her spayed/neutered and then out of the shelter as soon as possible.
There just is no “one fits all solution”, at least not for us. Pets are individuals and every pet reacts different when entering the shelter

The Allegany County Animal Shelter has 3 different Facebook pages:

Usually we post all stray animals we take in on our Lost & Found Facebook page. People from our community also can post to our page if they lost their pet or even found a pet. This page has become extremely helpful to re-unite pets with their owners.

However, the owner return rate for cats is much lower than the owner return rate for dogs. In our County cats are considered free roaming animals and people often don’t come and look for their cat if she doesn’t come back home. But we also had some nice success stories with cats.

It sounds like the recipe for success here is patience, effort and community partnership.  There is no reason any facility accepting cats couldn’t follow the models of those that successfully shelter cats.  And there is no excuse for shelter staff dumping adoptable cats back on the streets instead of doing their jobs.  Mandatory holding periods are a necessary protection for all stray shelter pets and cats are no less deserving of this protection than dogs.

(Thank you Lareina, Doug and Peter for sharing how you help cats at your shelters.)

Charleston City Council Considers Bill Allowing the City to Steal Owned Cats

In West Virginia, Charleston city council’s ordinance and rules committee passed a draconian cat bill this week and sent it to the full city council for consideration.  How extreme is it, you ask?

Assistant city attorney Mandi Carter said the ordinance is different from the city’s already-on-the-books animal nuisance ordinances in that it gives the city the power to pick up and impound cats on private property without permission.

The bill includes fines for cat owners but fails to define how ownership is to be determined.  It also fails to address community cats – free living cats not socialized to people whose home is the outdoors – the group that is presumably the source of most of the complaints the city receives about cats.

The sole nay vote on the committee came from at-large Councilman Chris Dodrill:

“I totally understand that the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good. But I also don’t think we should pass bad laws just to do something,”

Councilman Joe Deneault told the local paper, in essence, the council should pass bad laws just to do something:

“We’ve been looking for a perfect solution forever, and we haven’t even come close to finding it. This is a measure toward some solution. It may not be perfect, but it is certainly better than doing nothing,” he said.

And when he says forever, he means not forever.  Councilman Dodrill:

“We talk about this once a year for an hour. … I think we can work harder and figure something else out that’s going to work.”

On top of all this, the shelter and police department responsible for enforcing the proposed ordinance say they do not have the cage space or humane officers to do so. And even if they did, enforcing such a law would be a waste of time anyway:

“If time is spent on cat calls, there are animal control concerns, safety concerns, that go unattended in the community. So, vicious dogs; dog fighting; children being bit by animals. And when so much time is spent on cat issues, true animal control public safety issues go unanswered,” [Kanawha/Charleston Humane Association Director Chelsea] Staley said.

Ms. Staley told the committee that residents can use things like citrus and coffee grounds on their property to discourage cats from entering. Some guy who spoke in support of the ordinance wanted to know if irresponsible cat owners were going to foot the bill for the orange peels and the stuff left in the coffee filter that otherwise goes in the trash. Sounds like there was legitimate debate anyway.

The Kanawha/Charleston Humane Association has put up an online petition calling for the bill to be tabled and replaced by something that makes a tiny bit of sense and doesn’t include stealing people’s cats.

If the Charleston city council would scrap this bill and be willing to consider a TNR program for its community cats, I would personally pledge to send my used citrus fruits and coffee grounds to that one guy worried about the cost.  Win-win?

(Thanks Clarice and Anne for the links.)

ACLU Stands Up for First Amendment Rights of Animal Advocates in Baltimore County

Dog ID #04167 at the Baltimore Co pound, as pictured on Petfinder.

Dog ID #04167 at the Baltimore Co pound, as pictured on Petfinder.

The troubled Baltimore Co pound in MD has banned the public from photographing pets in the facility and the ACLU has written to county officials condemning the ban:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland says Baltimore County officials violated free-speech rights by banning photography at the county-run animal shelter, a move the ACLU describes as an effort to stifle critics.

The letter describes the photo ban as showing “a government agency endeavoring to limit its exposure to criticism and public accountability, and to stifle any perceived criticism that does arise, even where the agency’s purpose of serving the animals of Baltimore County is undermined as a result.”

County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler says the complaint is baseless and stems from a small group of pesky do-gooders:

“This is a story manufactured by a handful of advocates who were disrupting shelter employees from doing their jobs,” Kobler said.

Don Mohler, chief of staff for the County Executive, also has excuses:

“[The animal advocates] wanted to manufacture a crisis, and they would wait around until a dog soiled the cage and immediately take a picture and post it — inferring that the dog had been living in those conditions for a period of time, and that’s not true,” Mohler said.

Such dedication.  Waiting around for a dog to pee in his cage so they could snap a photo.  But in case you don’t buy that, he’s got another good one:

“This is not about photography,” Mohler said. “This is about the fact that there is a group of advocates who really want Baltimore County to release wild cats into the community.”

The county apparently has a kill policy for cats it determines to be feral.  And pesky do-gooders, along with the overwhelming majority of the general public, think that’s wrong.

Not to be outdone, Kobler also offered a back-up excuse for the photo ban to the newspaper:

“For some animals, the shutter click and the flash can frighten animals that are already nervous in a shelter environment. So sometimes, the staff members might ask people not to take an animal’s picture,” she said.

Both Kohler and Mobler said that the public is generally allowed to take pictures of the animals.  Except when they’re not.  But that’s because reasons.

So to recap, it’s not that Baltimore Co is trying to silence critics and violate their Constitutional rights, it’s assorted other things:

  • Volunteers photographing shelter pets are disruptors who prevent the staff from doing their job of killing more than 60% of the animals in their care.
  • They wait around all day for a dog to lift his leg in the cage just to capture the puddle on the floor.
  • They actually don’t care about photographing animals, they just want the county to stop killing feral cats and start doing TNR like other progressive shelters.
  • The flash from the camera scares animals and the county officials just aren’t going to stand by and let shelter pets be frightened.  After all, there’s killing to be done – lots of it.  Calm, friendly killing – not like the flash of a camera.

If for some insane reason you are still not feeling reassured, I got you:

County Councilman John Olszewski Sr., a Dundalk Democrat, said the shelter has made strides in overcoming past issues. He trusts it’s being run well.

“Every time there’s a policy, there’s a reason,” he said.

So there you go.  There’s some reason for the photo ban.  This guy apparently doesn’t know what that reason may be but strides have been made and everything is fine, probably.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

NJ Township Bans Feeding Outdoor Cats

The West Orange Township Council in NJ passed an ordinance at a meeting this month prohibiting residents from feeding all wildlife, including friendly outdoor cats who of course are not wildlife but shut up:

The matter was brought before the council at the behest of Theresa De Nova, the township’s health officer, whose office has been inundated with complaints regarding the number of feral and stray cats roaming through neighborhoods. Though both feral and stray cats are homeless felines, there is a significant difference between the two: Stray cats are socialized to people while feral cats are not. Under the new ordinance, residents are not allowed to feed either kind.

Ms. DeNova can now threaten cat feeders with court and fines, which she seems very excited about.  Most residents do not share her enthusiasm:

But the majority of people in attendance were opposed to the ordinance, at times calling out their opinions from the benches and loudly applauding like-minded speakers. Their opinion was clear: They love the town’s stray cats and to stop feeding them would be cruel.

“My interpretation of this amendment is that the council is hopeful of two things,” resident Sherry Ross said. “One is that the cats will weaken, sicken, starve and die as a result of not being fed. Or else they will leave and they will be somebody else’s problem. Neither of those is an efficient or humane solution.”

Many in attendance at the meeting mentioned TNR as a humane method to reduce the feral cat population over time.  But Ms. DeNova says she needed the power to make criminals out of cat feeders this very minute, if not sooner:

De Nova acknowledged that she would be willing to pursue methods like TNR in the future, but she stressed that she needed a measure on record immediately to use as a tool to fight the problem before it gets worse.

There does appear to be a problem in West Orange Township.  And it does seem to be getting worse.  But it doesn’t have anything to do with feeding cats.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

MO Mobile Home Park Residents Receive Notice to Poison Cats

kspr

Screengrab from the KSPR website showing a portion of a notice sent to mobile home park residents in Reeds Spring, MO

Residents of the White Eagle Woods mobile home park in Reeds Spring, MO were shocked to receive a notice, signed “White Eagle Woods – LLC”, telling them to poison area cats or face penalties:

The notice requested all residents to “leave a bowl of antifreeze out to poison” the stray cats. It goes on to read that if the problem is not eliminated, rent will increase for all tenants. If any tenant is caught feeding a stray cat, they will face immediate eviction.

Mark Rich is the owner of White Eagle Woods. Park resident Jeff White describes him as a cat killer:

“I’ve actually witnessed him shooting two different cats and I’ve heard other people say they’ve seen him put out antifreeze. I found a pie plate underneath that home over there with antifreeze in it. And between the well house and the water tank, I found a cat food can with antifreeze in it,” White said.

In fact, the KSPR news crew saw evidence of what may be a crime during its visit to the park:

On Thursday, KSPR found the charred remains of one cat that had been burned in a pile of debris. An investigator with the Humane Society of Missouri, along with deputies from the Stone County Sheriff’s Department were also present. An investigation is underway.

Mr. Rich would only speak briefly by phone with the KSPR reporter before hanging up. He denied writing the notice received by residents and said he would allow the park’s cats and kittens to be trapped and taken to shelters. Presumably he is unaware of the trend being promoted by some for shelters to return friendly cats found outdoors to their original location instead of returning them to their owners or finding them new homes.

Proponents of shelters not doing their jobs to protect friendly cats and kittens found outside will no doubt dismiss this story as an outlier.  Which will surely bring comfort to owners of lost cats being poisoned as well as friendly cats who were just looking for a home when they were abandoned by the shelter and left to drink antifreeze.  Because hey, shelters already aren’t doing their jobs, why should we bother trying to make them?

I don’t know whether the adult cats at the White Eagle Woods mobile home park are truly feral, friendly and loving, somewhere in between, owned pets who are or are not allowed outdoors by their owners, or a mix of all of the above.  But the news crew was able to film some of the cats, including kittens, and age alone makes kittens eligible for taming, even if born to a feral mother cat.  I also don’t know if any shelters in the area have been told by “experts” not to do their jobs to protect friendly cats found outdoors.  But if they any of the area shelters have this policy in place or are considering this option, it would surely lead to disaster for these cats.

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

TZI Recommends Shelter Should Not Let You Have Your Lost Cat Back

Cleo, a feral cat who has been vaccinated and neutered, and whose caregiver loves her.  (Photo by Casey Post)

Cleo, a feral cat who has been vaccinated and neutered, and whose caregiver loves her. (Photo by Casey Post)

In August 2013, the Maddie’s Fund Shelter Medicine Program issued a summary of recommendations to the Hillsborough Co pound in FL following a consultation.  The recommendation regarding stray cats was particularly troubling to me since it threatened the bond between people and their lost pets.  From the report:

Eliminate the required hold period for stray cats. Stray cats lacking identification are extremely unlikely to be reclaimed by owners and are at high risk for shelter – acquired disease and euthanasia. Eliminating even a few days in the shelter may be the difference between life and death for them. The shelter can simultaneously have an option for immediate live release paired with a required hold period of 3 days prior to euthanasia.

Not only is Maddie’s Fund failing to attribute a low return to owner rate to its proper source – the pound, it fails to acknowledge one of the primary purposes of municipal shelters:  to reunite lost pets with their owners.

The No Kill Advocacy Center weighed in on the elimination of stray holding periods when HSUS suggested it in its 2013 white paper on California shelters:

[I]f a dog or cat comes in as a stray, and he does not have identification, he can be adopted to someone else immediately without giving his family any time to reclaim him. This is unfair to families who deeply love their animal companions. […] Accidents happen; animals get lost and end up at shelters. Since the choice presented — immediate adoption or sickness/death — is a false one, breaking up families by having them lose all rights in their animal with no reclaim period of any kind appears draconian.

I am deeply opposed to the elimination of holding periods for any pet whose owner might be looking for him. It’s the shelter’s job to treat the bond between pets and their people as sacrosanct. Which is why I was shocked to read that the Target Zero Institute, in its recommendations to the troubled Amarillo pound in TX, has taken the travesty even further. TZI not only recommends eliminating the holding period for stray cats lacking identification but for all cats found outside – including friendly, possibly microchipped pets who may be wearing collars and/or tags and whose owners are searching for them:

The TZI recommends returning outside cats back to their original neighborhoods following sterilization, rabies vaccination and ear tipping. […]TZI recommends returning cats to their ‘outside home’ where they have a food source as evidenced by a healthy body weight. These may be feral cats that cannot be handled or friendly cats found outside.

If Amarillo, or any other municipal shelter, adopts TZI’s barbaric recommendation regarding cats found outdoors, your pet could be turned into the shelter by a cat hating neighbor or anyone at all, or he could simply be trapped by an ACO and, so long as he appears to be “visually healthy”, he would be immediately vaccinated, neutered, ear-tipped and put back on the street. This would happen as a matter of policy – even if you were actively searching for your pet, even if you had microchipped him and even if you had placed a collar and an ID tag on him. If he’s found outside, TZI wants him immediately anesthetized, put through surgery and turned loose in the area where he had gotten lost (or presumably where the cat hating neighbor says he was found).

TZI says in its report that this practice will save money by reducing the number of cats who “have to be cared for, fed and ultimately [killed] in large numbers” at the pound.

No cats “have to be” killed.  Full stop.  If you don’t get that, get out of the shelter consulting business.

All cats impounded by shelters should be immediately – in the field whenever possible – scanned for microchips and checked for ID tags.  No exceptions.  A chip or ID tag should equate with a free ride home from the ACO.  Those cats lacking identification should be photographed and posted online by the facility immediately.  Anyone visiting the shelter looking for a lost pet should be shown every pet in the place as a matter of course.  Reuniting families is part of the job.  It seems to me to be one of the best parts, by the way, and I can’t imagine why anyone who supposedly cares about shelter pets would want to eliminate it.

Now that Maddie’s Fund and HSUS have opened this awful door and TZI has barreled through it with a bulldozer, I can’t help but wonder what’s next.  Will some consultant recommend that shelters stop housing all dogs found outdoors too?  Gee but we can’t turn dogs back out onto the streets, can we?  So what will “have to be” done with them?

I’m not a shelter consultant, just someone who loves pets and believes dogs and cats have a right to live, regardless of their status in the community.  I don’t get paid for my ideas nor do I have any big money backing me behind the scenes.  Here’s my unsolicited recommendation to shelters and their staff, for what it’s worth:  Do your jobs.  Stop looking for ways to avoid the hard work of sheltering by bringing in big money consultants.  You are accountable to the local taxpayers who pay your salaries and who love their pets.  Start acting like it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

NJ County Threatens Caretaker and Her Colony of Cats

Image from the header of the Gloucester Co AC webpage.  The header.

Image from the header of the Gloucester Co AC webpage. The header.

A compassionate person in Gloucester Co, NJ has been feeding community cats on her own property for years.  Sandra Leady has caught many of the cats and had them vaccinated and neutered at her own expense, since the Gloucester Co pound doesn’t do anything for free living cats except kill them.  There are an estimated 18 cats in the colony she’s feeding today.  But a cat hating neighbor recently called animal control to report her and the AC director used Ms. Leady’s kind acts against her:

The medical care she provided made her legally responsible for the animals, according to Gloucester County Animal Shelter Director Bill Lombardi.

After a warning notice from the animal control office, Leady has few options: Build a pen for the feral felines or let the county set cat traps in her yard.

I am not an attorney but does the county have the right to trespass on private property to set traps when the property owner doesn’t consent?  This seems wildly illegal to me.

The reason Ms. Leady is so distraught over the notice is because the Gloucester pound traps community cats, tosses them into cages for a week then kills them.  The director likes to emphasize how humane the whole thing is but it sounds more like torture to me:

Euthanasia is a “humane death” compared to what a feral cat faces in the elements, Lombardi said[.]

[…]

The wire cages are set on Sundays and retrieved on Fridays.

This week’s traps were empty, but the shelter’s “feral room,” a death row for wild felines, was full from previous collections.

So a cat trapped on a Sunday would be stuck in the trap, presumably without food, water or shelter from the elements until Friday.  Then left on death row for another seven days at the cat killing facility.  Then, for any lucky survivors, death.  My humane is tingling.

In 2013, the Gloucester Co pound killed roughly 80% of the more than 3500 cats taken in.  And the director wants the legal authority to steal more cats:

Fifteen of the county’s 24 towns have ordinances concerning cat licensing and felines at large. […]

“I’m for cat ordinances,” Lombardi explained. “It gives us a better grip on handling the problem in a lot of towns that have cat problems.”

Punitive legislation does not work.  Making criminals out of compassionate citizens is the opposite of what animal control ought to be doing, especially if they want to reduce the community cat population humanely and protect public health via neuter and vaccination.  But everything is justified because rabies:

“Rabies is the biggest concern and the reason why we trap,” Lombardi said Friday morning.

Rabies.  Because 20 cats have tested positive for rabies in Gloucester Co in the past 26 years.  So it’s an uncontrolled plague basically.  And cats must die.

I guess rabies vaccines for cats must not work in Gloucester Co.  Because if they did, surely the pound wouldn’t be killing cats by the thousands, using rabies as a weak sauce excuse:

“People think we get a kick out of doing this,” Lombardi noted. “It’s very emotional on our employees.”

Cat killer has a sad.  I wonder how “emotional” it is on free living cats forced to suffer in a trap for a week, tossed on death row for another, then injected with poison before they get sent to the landfill.  All of which is needless cruelty, inflicted by those paid to protect animals from harm, when proven alternatives such as TNR are available.  Not that anybody WANTS to kill animals, natch.

In the meantime Ms. Leady, who can not afford to build a pen such as the county is requiring, is worried for the lives of her colony cats:

Animal control officers need her decision soon, or she faces penalties, according to Leady, who claims she has not been informed of the exact penalties she faces.

“I’m an animal lover,” she insisted. “I won’t turn my back on them.

“I don’t care if they put me in jail. I won’t turn my back on an animal.”

Attention Gloucester Co:  This is what the person you pay to “shelter” animals should be saying.

There. I’ve identified your problem Gloucester Co. Fix it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Federal Agency Attempts to Scare Escambia Co Commissioners Out of TNR

Ford, part of a maintained TNR colony in AL.  (Photo by Aubrie Kavanaugh)

Ford, part of a maintained TNR colony in AL. (Photo by Aubrie Kavanaugh)

Reform at the long troubled pound in Escambia Co Florida is getting some support from county commissioners.  Specifically, the commissioners had planned to discuss the implementation of a TNR program for the community’s feral cats at its July 24 public meeting.  But on July 23, the US Fish and Wildlife Service sent a nastygram to the commissioners, threatening them with jail if they moved forward with TNR.

Instead, the US Fish and Wildlife Service encouraged the county to continue trapping and killing its community’s cats.  Because that’s what the US Fish and Wildlife Service does:  kill animals.  Last year, the agency killed 4 million animals, in addition to mailing out threatening letters I guess.

The Escambia Co TNR ordinance was tabled until the August 14 meeting so that the county attorney could advise commissioners on what to expect in prison their legal options.

Commissioner Grover Robinson seems like he gets it:

“Clearly what we’ve got isn’t working,” the commissioner said. “We’re killing 5,000 cats a year, and it hasn’t made a dent.” He added that whatever concerns conservationists and public health officials had likely would apply regardless of whether the county moved forward with TNR.

“The whole reason we’re considering this is because we believe it will lead to fewer cats in the long term,” Robinson said.

No more calls, I think we have a winner.

If you live in Escambia Co and would like to voice your support for TNR, the commissioners meeting is at 9am on August 14:

Ernie Lee Magaha Governmental Complex, 221 S. Palafox Place

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

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