Tag: animal shelters

After Massive Backlash, Government Agrees To Stop Shooting Cats

State employees in California have agreed to temporarily stop shooting cats after stories about their actions prompted an overwhelming backlash.

Employees with the East Bay Regional Park District have shot at least 18 cats this year, including a dozen in the past month. A spokesman for the state agency, which manages park land in nine California counties and major cities like San Francisco, claimed the cats were a threat to birds in a marshland not far from a business park where the felines lived.

But the East Bay Regional Park District has repeatedly lied about the cats’ fates, failed to work with local rescues and shelters, and refused to honor public records requests about the cat-killing program, according to animal rights advocates and local media.

Dave Mason, a spokesman for the East Bay Regional Park District, described the situation as “an out-of-control feral cat colony of at least 30 cats.” By contrast, staffers at local rescues, as well as the people who managed the colony, said most of the cats were strays, some were former pets, and they rarely entered the nearby protected marshlands.

“[East Bay Regional Park District] came out most likely at night, and shot and killed the cats we had cared for. We spent countless hours getting the majority of these cats fixed. Countless hours!” one local caretaker fumed on Facebook. “These cats were vaccinated, microchipped and healthy. We pulled kittens out when they presented themselves. We pulled adult cats out on many occasions. Some of which we believe were dumped there. We were constantly doing work there.”

Mason painted a very different picture of the situation.

“The Park District appreciates all animal life but is required by law to protect threatened and endangered wildlife living in District parklands,” he told SFGate. “It is imperative that the public understands that feral cats are not part of a healthy eco-system and feeding them only serves to put endangered wildlife at risk.”

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Willow, one of the strays in the eliminated cat colony, is missing. Colony caretakers believe she was shot by state employees.

Now the agency’s supervisory board has pulled the plug on killing cats, according to the local ABC affiliate, after receiving a flood of angry messages and phone calls about the policy. Dee Rosario, the board’s incoming president, told KGO she plans to have the practice ended permanently.

Board members also promised the public will get answers after the EBRPD ignored public records requests from journalists at KGO.

“The board will be asking some tough questions, and we want to get a report of exactly what happened,” said Ellen Corbett, who sits on the board. “And that’s why we’ve asked for an investigation.”

It’s worth noting there’s no evidence to support culling cats as an effective way to protect birds. Several studies, however, indicate TNR (trap, neuter, return) programs do have a measurable impact on local cat populations, and thus limit the number of birds and small mammals killed by free-roaming cats. The majority of animal welfare specialists — as well as groups like the SPCA and Humane Society — urge people to keep their pet cats indoors, and to get them spayed or neutered.

Initially, employees of the state agency claimed they’d trapped the cats and placed them in local shelters, colony caretaker Cecelia Theis said. But after staffers at local shelters said the East Bay Regional Park District did not drop off any cats, and a local TV news station began calling, the agency backtracked and admitted a team of “conservationists” shot the cats.

“There is a pile of bags and a hole in the fence near where I fed these babies every night. Those jerks hunted them and killed them,” Theis wrote on Facebook.

Later she told SFGate: “I’m looking out at the park crying their names.”

A Change.org petition urging the EBRPD to “honor its values” and cease shooting cats had accumulated almost 5,000 signatures in three days.

Cat advocates were particularly incensed that the EBRPD did not notify them before making the decision to kill the cats and didn’t reach out to local shelters for help finding a better solution.

“While we understand and fully support the need to safeguard protected wildlife and habitats from nonnative and predatory species, this tragic outcome did not need to happen,” said John Lipp, director of the Friends of Alameda Animal Shelter.  His group and other local rescues “could have worked together to humanely rehome or relocate these cats had we been notified in advance.”

Despite the pledge to stop killing cats, advocates aren’t taking any more chances. They’ve trapped the remaining strays. Some will be put in foster homes, and four will be available for adoption in the near future.

Bidding War For Date With Buddy Intensifies At Charity Auction

LAS VEGAS — Lunch with Elon Musk, a Fender Telecaster signed by Elvis and a date with Buddy the Cat were among the big-ticket auctions expected to help raise millions on Saturday for non-profits at the fourth annual Bucks 4 Buddies charity drive.

The proceeds from the event will be divided among animal shelters and veterinary clinics across the country, helping them stay afloat during difficult economic times and the height of kitten season.

Bidding for the Elvis-signed Telecaster had reached almost $160,000, while the top bidder pledged $75,000 for lunch with Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla and SpaceX.

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A Fender Telecaster signed by Elvis fetched a pretty penny.

Neither matched the frenetic bidding war that had erupted over a dinner date with Buddy the Cat, insiders said. By early Saturday evening the top bid had reached almost a quarter of a million and showed no signs of slowing down.

”Ladies and gentlemen, a quarter of a million dollars!” the auctioneer announced. “Do I have $275 thousand? Two hundred and seventy five, two hundred and seventy five to the elegant lady in the swan dress! Do I have 300? Three hundred thousand! Three hundred to the young lady in the back! Do I have three fifty?”

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A female bidder celebrates her $500,000 bid for dinner with Buddy before an Austrian princess raised the bidding to $550,000.

One woman sighed and hung her head in frustration as the bidding surpassed $400,000, leaving the auction to bidders with fatter wallets.

“I came here specifically for this auction,” said the woman, a European aristocrat who asked that she not be identified by name.

“Don’t feel too bad, darlin’,” said another woman, the well-coiffed wife of a Houston megachurch pastor who was fanning herself with a copy of the auction program. “I had to quit at three hundred thousand. Shame, too. Buddy looks so adorable in his little tuxedo!”

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Cleans up nice: Buddy proved irresistible to the ladies in his tuxedo.

The auction’s organizers said they were delighted by the bidding war over dinner with the gray tabby after other auction items — including a night on the town with Rob Schneider and a weekend hunting pheasants with former Vice President Dick Cheney — fell short of expectations.

Other items on the auction slate did considerably better. A personal performance of “One Night In Bangkok” by Mike Tyson fetched $45,000, while a gold-plated dinner bowl encrusted with 24 karat diamonds — which belonged to Paris Hilton’s dog before she purchased a more ornate bowl for the pooch — brought in $92,500, auction organizers said.

Regardless, the date with Buddy the Cat was poised to bring in the biggest haul and easily garnered the most interest among female attendees of the charity auction.

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A woman representing Charlotte, 6th Countess of Tussaint, enters a bid for dinner with Buddy the Cat.

The bidding was expected to last well into the night, with several determined parties — including supermodel Gigi Hadid, Big Bang Theory actress Kaley Cuoco and a white Persian believed to be the foundress of Fancy Feast — each looking to outbid the others for the privilege of dining with Buddy.

“We’re going to Tavern on the Green in Central Park,” a confident Hadid said, “where we’ll toast with champagne before I squeeze those adorable little cheeks! He’s so dreamy!”

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Nevada’s Been At The Shelter For 100 Days

And from the looks of it, she’s ready to leave.

The green-eyed silver tabby gave Bloomington, Ind., police dispatcher Matt Smith a big hug when he visited the city’s Animal Care and Control department to help photograph an adoption drive this week.

Nevada is five years old, just like Buddy, and she looks like she could be his sister. If you’re in Indiana and you’re looking to adopt a cat, check out the shelter’s Facebook page. Her adoption fee has been reduced to $20 during the drive.

Here’s hoping little Nevada finds a great human and a comfy home.

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Police dispatcher Matt Smith and Nevada, who has been waiting for a human and a home. Credit: Bloomington Police Department

Cat Haters Are Out In Full Force

Earlier this week New York became the first state in the US to ban cat declawing, which is a major victory not only for the many people who have been pushing for a ban for years, but especially for the potentially millions of cats who won’t be mutilated for the sake of someone’s couch or drapes.

It’s a time to celebrate, revel in a rare legislative victory for animal welfare, and look ahead toward similar proposals in other states. If more states follow New York, it could pave the way to a national ban.

Innocent, sentient creatures won’t be harmed as they have been for a long time. What could be better than that?

Here come the cat-haters

The thing is, legislation like this brings out the crazies and lots people who think protecting the innocent is a zero-sum game. In their world, helping animals and helping humans are mutually exclusive things instead of two goals that should be part of any coherent moral belief system.

Just because people are suffering in some parts of the world doesn’t mean we can’t help animals, just as helping animals doesn’t preclude us from helping people.

Declawing bans don’t take resources away from starving children in Somalia or America’s urban poor. Compassion for animals doesn’t somehow detract for compassion for people. In fact, all the research points to the opposite: That the way a person treats animals is a strong indicator of how they treat other human beings.

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A comment on a story about New York’s historic declawing ban.
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The zero-sum game that isn’t.

Animal abuse and violence crime

That’s why there’s a link between animal abuse and violent crime against people. Animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violence against fellow humans, research shows. Criminologists have been aware of this link for many years, and smart investigators know to keep tabs on animal abusers because they often “graduate” to hurting humans.

That was the case with Luka Magnotta, a notorious animal abuser who, among other crimes, filmed himself feeding a young kitten to a python. Magnotta went on to kill a man with an ice pick, a crime that could have been prevented had detectives in Canada taken Magnotta’s animal abuse more seriously. Animal life has intrinsic value, and Magnotta should have been imprisoned for killing the kitten.

Cats scratch. Get over it.

Then there are the declawing advocates, the people who inexplicably argue that it’s okay to brutally mutilate living, feeling creatures in order to protect inanimate objects like couches and drapes.

One thing should be absolutely clear to anyone looking to adopt a cat: Scratching is completely natural behavior, and it’s your responsibility as caretaker to make sure you provide adequate scratching posts, as well as redirect your cat to those posts and vertical scratchers.

If you can’t or won’t accept that responsibility, you should not adopt a cat.

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“Don’t touch my paws!”

Of course there are people who will insist declawing has no negative effects on cats. They’re wrong. That’s not a matter of opinion, it’s fact: A 2017 study, the most comprehensive of its kind, detailed a long list of negative effects that result from declawing.

Declawing is NOT a manicure

Declawing, which is the amputation of a cat’s feet up to the first knuckle — and not “kitty manicure” — causes lifelong pain in cats. Because cats are digitigrade animals, meaning they walk with their weight on their toes, the act of walking itself becomes painful. That leads to cats altering their gaits to limit the pain, which in turn leads to poor posture, which ultimately leads to early-onset arthritis and other physical problems, according to the 2017 study in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.

It’s a cascade of physical problems that leads to misery.

Because cats are famously stoic, doing everything they can not to show pain — they are prey animals as well as predators, after all — it may not be obvious, but declawing hurts them. A lot.

While people may think they’re solving a problem by declawing their cats, they’re creating new ones. Declawed cats are several times more likely to bite because they no longer have their claws for defense. They’re five times more likely to stop using the litter box, because the simple act of standing on litter granules is painful on their raw toe stumps. They’re more likely to be aggressive and ill-tempered.

Insult to injury

Those are all prime reasons why people surrender cats to shelters, causing another type of cascade: One in which a negligent owner has his or her cats declawed, then surrenders the cats because they’re acting out. Declawed cats are twice as likely to be surrendered to shelters as cats who are not declawed.

That directly contradicts claims by proponents of declawing, who say declawed cats are more likely to be adopted. In fact, declawed cats are more likely to end up without homes.

It’s 2019. The information is out there for anyone to look up, and ignorance is no longer an excuse. Declawing is wrong.

Here’s to hoping New York is just the first of many states to ban the barbaric practice.

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“You don’t wanna tangle with these talons, bro. I’ll cut you. I’ll cut you for real. And then you’ll have to lather anti-bacterial cream all over your skin, and you’ll smell like medicine. Hah!”