Tag: cat ladies

Sunday Cats: RIP P-22, Beloved Cali Puma, Plus: Cat Lady Hot Takes

When the puma known as P-22 made headlines a month ago for snatching a pet Chihuahua off his leash on a post-sundown walk, a lot of people were concerned the mountain lion would be put down or hunted in retaliation.

The dog’s owner admitted he was distraught, but also pleaded with the public not to harm the puma, who after all was just being a cat. P-22 didn’t know pet dogs are off-limits, and he showed no aggression toward the other dog or the man walking the pooches. He was hunting after dark, like pumas do.

Sadly, P-22 is now dead, although there does not appear to be a connection to the Chihuahua incident.

Late on Monday morning, Sarah Picchi of Los Feliz opened her door to find fish and wildlife officers on her property. She knew why they were there, as she’d spotted the cougar in her backyard.

“Of course, I knew it was P-22 because I’ve been following the story,” she told the Associated Press.

P-22, who was described by the National Park Service as “a remarkably old cat in the wild” at 12 years old, was showing signs of distress. Veterinarians who have been tracking and protecting California cougars for 20 years tranquilized P-22 and gave him a veterinary examination after receiving reports that he may have been hit by a car on Sunday night.

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P-22 when he was healthy, right, and just a few days ago when he was suffering from infections and a fractured skull, left.

Unfortunately it looks like he was indeed hit. The beloved mountain lion, who had famously crossed his state’s busiest highways in his younger days to find a range of his own, suffered a skull fracture, an unnamed skin condition and signs of kidney and liver disease.

Veterinarians said the only option, at his advanced age and in his condition, was to place him in a sanctuary where he could be constantly monitored and cared for, but that’s a dicey proposition for a proud animal who spent his entire life fending for himself, hunting and going where he pleased. P-22 would not have recovered, they said, and would have had poor quality of life even if he lived out his remaining days in captivity.

Ultimately they made the difficult decision to euthanize him this week.

Again, there’s no indication any of the misfortune to befall P-22 had anything to do with the Chihuahua incident, although the driver who hit him without reporting the injury made a selfish choice. It’s not clear if earlier treatment could have saved P-22, but it may have saved him significant suffering.

The famous cat, who called some of Los Angeles’ most well-known neighborhoods home, leaves behind a legacy that includes books and documentaries on his incredible life and journey from southern California to his eventual home in LA. Rest in peace, big guy.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post for more photos and a link to the National Park Service’s tribute to P-22.

Wetumpka will pay the price for petty politics

Reader Leah of Catwoods fame brought our attention to this excellent analysis of the situation in Wetumpka, a town in her home state of Alabama that is now best known for extremely aggressive police officers arresting two women for the “crime” of managing a cat colony.

The women, Beverly Roberts and Mary Alston, were found guilty of two misdemeanors each earlier this week in Wetumpka municipal court. (They also spoke to PITB on Friday, discussing their plans to appeal and their worries about the health and safety of the colony cats.)

The column, by Alabama Political Reporter’s Josh Moon, echoes our own thoughts on the scandal, pointing out the petty nature of the arrests and prosecution:

It’s so utterly absurd. And to be quite honest, it reeks of small town politics. It smells suspiciously like some thin-skinned city official got peeved because some ladies had the gall to question him, and he decided to flex a little muscle, show those little gals where the power lies. 

And, lo and behold, in court on Tuesday, one major line of questioning revolved around whether Mayor Jerry Willis had told Wetumpka PD to arrest one of the cat ladies, because she had been continuously critical of the city’s animal control policies and practices. Willis, under oath, denied ordering her arrest. Testimony from a lieutenant from Wetumpka PD sure seemed to indicate that some sort of directive had come from the mayor’s office. 

Regardless, bodycam footage of the cops’ interactions with Roberts and Alston show an impressive response – three cop cars and four officers – to a call about a lady possibly feeding cats. On a roadside. With no businesses nearby. Near a wooded area. With plenty of space off to the side so traffic wasn’t impeded. On public property. 

As we did, Moon noted Alston and Roberts weren’t breaking any laws by being on public property, and there are no laws in Wetumpka prohibiting feeding stray cats.

And it’s not about feeding stray cats, as Willis claimed in his court testimony. Alston and Roberts were providing a service to Wetumpka, at their own expense, because they love animals. Trap, neuter, return is a proven process that limits and ultimately reduces stray cat populations, and does so in a humane way. Prohibiting the women from managing the cat colony will only make the problem worse as the felines mate and stray further afield looking for food, a fact that Willis and town officials don’t seem to appreciate.

Moon wrote:

A city with a decent government would have worked with Alston and Roberts. It would have given them awards for spending their days performing this public service for free. It would have explored ways to expand the very good thing they were doing. 

He quoted attorney Terry Luck, who represented the women, saying “Wetumpka is a laughingstock” for arresting Alston and Roberts, blatantly lying about the reasons and the sequence of events leading up to the arrests, and doubling down on prosecuting them even as the story spread nationally and people understandably shook their heads in disbelief at the insanity of it all.

The small-town trial, Moon noted, was covered by reporters from across the state and from national media outlets. Body camera footage of the arrests fueled public outrage, as officers treated Alston and Roberts like hardened criminals and even laughed at the idea that they were “a bunch of cops beatin’ up on some old ladies.” That’s not what you want your town to be known for.

“The city will pay a hefty price for the bad PR,” Moon wrote. “And the whole time, doing the right thing was free.”

Tribute to P-22

We leave you now with some photos and images that can only hint at how much P-22, the lion of Hollywood, was beloved by the people of LA. He was the subject of at least four books, two documentary movies, various festivals and fundraisers for protecting his kind, and his face graces innumerable posters, t-shirts and pins. Here’s how the National Park Service described the big guy:

Likely born in the Santa Monica Mountains as the son of adult male P-1, he somehow found his way to his tiny, nine-square-mile home in Griffith Park, separated from the Santa Monicas by the 101 and 405, two of the busiest freeways in the world. Defying expectations, he persisted for more than 10 years in the smallest home range that has ever been recorded for an adult male mountain lion.

Although he made frequent appearances on the streets of the Hollywood Hills and even, more recently, of the Silver Lake neighborhood, he was also clearly a wild cat, doing so mostly late at night, and subsisting largely on natural prey such as deer and coyotes.

In the end, he found his way into many Angelenos’ hearts and home surveillance camera footage.

 

Alabama Women Who Fed And Trapped Cats Found Guilty Despite National Outcry Over Their Arrest

Despite widespread condemnation at the arrest and treatment of two Alabama women who were caring for a cat colony, a town judge found the women guilty after a trial Tuesday.

Beverly Roberts, 84, and Mary Alston, 60, were arrested on June 25 after a group of police officers pulled up to a park in three vehicles and ordered the women to leave.

Exasperated at the disproportionate police response — and the non-negotiable demand that they leave a public park during daylight hours — the women protested, and things grew heated when the police told them not to question their authority.

“I’m teetering on going to jail for feeding cats?” an incredulous Alston asked the officers in footage of the arrest, which was released by attorneys representing the women after they fought to obtain it from the Wetumpka Police Department.

Shortly afterward, one of the officers lost his patience when Alston said she needed to collect her traps before leaving.

“You aren’t doin’ it fast enough and now you’re going to jail!” he said, grabbing Alston by the wrists and yanking her out of her car.

The two women had tried explaining to the police that they were caring for a colony of stray cats and that they were using their own funds to conduct trap, neuter and return services, a common activity among cat lovers who care for strays and ferals in towns across the country. In most places, the authorities work with volunteers and local rescues, understanding that TNR programs help control cat populations.

Roberts wasn’t moving fast enough for the police either, and one officer jabbed a finger at her, raising his voice.

“It’s gonna get ugly if you don’t stop!” he said.

Wetumpka cat arrests
A police officer pulls Alston from her car on June 25 before arresting her for trespassing.

Despite complaints from across the country, widespread coverage in local media and national animal-related news sites, Wetumpka Police Chief Greg Benton doubled down on his officer’s response, insisting the cats are a “nuisance” and Roberts and Alston were making the situation worse by managing the colony.

During Tuesday’s municipal trial, it became clear why Wetumpka police had acted so aggressively: They were called by Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis, who saw Alston’s parked car near the park and directly phoned the assistant chief of police.

Despite that, and despite admitting he’d had arguments with the women in the past about managing the colony, Willis told Judge Jeff Courtney he didn’t tell the police to respond and didn’t order the arrests.

“They have a right to make those decisions,” Willis said. “I don’t make those decisions for them.”

When attorney Terry Luck directly asked Willis if he’d ordered the arrest or played any part in the trespass order, Willis simply said “I did not.”

However, Officer Jason Crumpton said under oath that the assistant chief told him and the other officers to arrest the women.

After Roberts said, per the Montgomery Advertiser, that she was “not the first person in Wetumpka to feed cats,” merely the first to get caught, Courtney said the women “weren’t convicted for feeding cats.”

“I know,” Roberts said, “because that’s not illegal!”

There are no laws against managing cat colonies or feeding cats in Wetumpka, so police charged Roberts with criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct, and Alston with criminal trespassing and interfering with governmental operations, a charge tantamount to resisting arrest in many states. The charges are misdemeanors. Courtney suspended the 10-day jail sentences that come with convictions at that level and sentenced Roberts and Alston to two years’ unsupervised probation, a $100 fine each and court costs.

Attorneys for Roberts and Alston say they plan to appeal.

 

Police Chief Doubles Down On Cat Lady Arrests, Trial Postponed

You might think if you were the police chief of Wetumpka, Alabama, you’d be embarrassed to learn your officers arrested and cuffed two women — one of them 85 years old — for the alleged crime of managing a cat colony.

Heck, you might be outright mortified that the public saw a video of that outrageous arrest, with your officers laughing about “a bunch of cops beatin’ up on some old ladies” after treating the aforementioned ladies like hardened criminals instead of good local people you’re sworn to protect and serve.

Lastly, you might be furious at your officers for demonstrating abysmal judgment by escalating a situation instead of keeping the peace.

Especially if video of the incident proceeded to go viral, drawing widespread mockery and condemnation of your entire police department

But if you’re Wetumpka Police Chief Greg Benton, apparently none of those things would occur to you.

Instead of apologizing to his community for traumatizing two women doing trap, neuter return (TNR) work in a public park, Benton is doubling down.

Benton told the Montgomery Advertiser that Mary Alston, 60, and Beverly Roberts, 85, were exacerbating a “nuisance” by spending their own money to spay/neuter strays, working with local shelters to find homes for them, and managing a stray cat colony that others were content to ignore.

Benton says the women were warned that they were “trespassing” in a public park — built and maintained with their tax dollars — and were warned not to feed the cats.

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A Wetumpka police officer wags a finger at Roberts, who was 84 years old at the time, before handcuffing her hands behind her back and rifling through her personal possessions.

The women were arrested on June 25, but the media and public are just now learning the details because police pushed back on local media freedom of information requests for copies of the body camera footage.

Apparently Benton does not understand the distinction between tossing treats at strays and managing a colony at personal expense to reduce the stray population and get the cats adopted. Or maybe he’s one of those guys who thinks the solution is to kill the cats.

Either way, he’s chosen to ignore policing best practices, disregarding time-honored — and evidence-supported — protocols of community policing by endorsing the sort of behavior his officers engaged in.

Instead of charging into a public park, practically screaming “I am the law!” and gleefully cuffing two women while telling them “You’re too old to be acting this way,” a minimally-trained, minimally decent rookie cop almost anywhere else in America would immediately understand Alston and Roberts are not criminals.

That cop would understand the women are part of the community, they have to live with these people, and the productive thing would be to get the police chief, animal control officer, colony managers and local shelter supervisors together, so they can figure out how to support each other and combine their resources to humanely manage local cat colonies.

Instead, we have police moving forward with misdemeanor charges against the women. They’re both charged with criminal trespassing, while Alston faces an additional count of interfering with government operations, and Roberts faces a disorderly conduct charge.

Their attorney, Terry Luck, told the Advertiser that he believes the charges are baseless. Alston and Roberts were originally scheduled for an Oct. 20 trial, but it’s been postponed due to scheduling conflicts. A new date hasn’t been set yet.

‘It’s Gonna Get Ugly!’: Brave Police Officers Arrest, Cuff Women, Ages 60 And 84, For Criminally Feeding Cats

Whatcha want, whatcha wanna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

Two vicious criminals were caught by the long hand of the law and face justice for the community-destroying act of…trapping and feeding cats. The heroic police officers responsible for meting out justice were from the Wetumpka Police Department in Wetumpka, Alabama, about 20 miles north of Montgomery.

Fearless cops arrived at a public park on June 25 and immediately took up tactical positions after receiving intelligence that two seasoned criminals were trespassing on public land and defying the law by feeding the dangerous beasts. Even worse, the alleged lawbreakers were conducting their brazen activity in broad daylight!

After they were satisfied that 84-year-old Beverly Roberts and 60-year-old Mary Alston were not hiding weapons in the bags of cat food they’d brought with them, and could not repurpose their cat traps to harm officers, the intrepid lawmen courageously confronted the pair of malefactors, telling them to cease their illicit activity and vacate the premises.

The officers approached Alston first, warning her that she was breaking the law by feeding stray cats who were “becoming a nuisance.”

A flabbergasted Alston said she was trying to help the situation by trapping the cats and bringing them to shelters, pointing out she had a trap already deployed and had other trapping equipment in her car.

But the officers noted such specialized work is the domain of trained professionals — in this case the town’s absent animal control officer — and told her to leave.

“I’m teetering on going to jail for feeding cats?” the hardened alleged criminal asked, bristling with obvious disdain for authority.

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“Bad girls, bad girls, watcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”

The clearly dangerous woman thought she could retrieve her traps and pack up her belongings, but the resolute police were having none of her defiant attitude.

“She’s still sittin’ here after we done told ’em to leave already,” an officer complained to a dispatcher during an aside filmed in his patrol car.

When Alston expressed surprise that police were cuffing her, the officers explained they had already emptied their vast reservoir of patience after telling her to leave the park.

“You aren’t doin’ it fast enough and now you’re going to jail!” an officer said after literally yanking Alston out of her driver’s seat with both hands. (An act completely justified, we’re sure. You don’t last long as a lawman in a depraved town like Wetumpka if you can’t quickly spot possible danger.)

Meanwhile, Roberts demonstrated clear contempt for authority when she questioned why an entire shift’s worth of cops were present, and went to hand her car keys to Alston before the officers arrested her. She explained she was handing off her car keys because she didn’t want the vehicle sitting in a public park unattended, not yet realizing the police would do her a favor by impounding her car.

“It’s gonna get ugly if you don’t stop!” one officer said, warning the incredibly dangerous woman, who further insulted the valorous public servants by questioning their use of time and resources on a cat-feeding complaint.

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Roberts apologizes as, with her hands cuffed behind her back, she’s unable to hop up onto the back seat of a police SUV.

Knowing the 84-year-old could be deceptively strong, the officers cuffed her with her hands behind her back, then expressed skepticism when she couldn’t physically get into the back seat of a police SUV while restrained.

After both women were restrained and under control in the back of a patrol cruiser, the cops reflected on a tense situation that could have gone wrong at any moment.

“I’m glad nobody recorded, because [it’s] a bunch of police officers beatin’ up on a couple old ladies,” an officer said while another laughed off camera.

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A police officer searches the pocketbook of an 84-year-old woman for drugs and contraband, presumably including catnip.

We here at Pain In The Bud commend the Wetumpka Police Department for showing no mercy to their town’s seasoned criminal element.

Recent examples of cowardice in high-profile policing situations (Uvalde, Texas, and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida) may have shaken the public’s confidence in our normally intrepid police, but the officers of Wetumpka valorously charged into this situation despite great risk to themselves, clearly understanding the immediate danger Alston and Roberts posed to the community with their allegedly law-breaking acts.

After righteously fighting attorneys for both women and refusing to release body and dash cam footage of the tense encounter, Wetumpka police could no longer drag their feet after three months of stalling and were finally forced to hand the video over due to clearly anti-American laws supposedly meant to guarantee “freedom of information.” Obviously, such laws were created to benefit cat-feeding terrorists and other dangerous criminals.

The attorneys believe the footage will vindicate their clients, but any reasonable person who views tape of the encounter will certainly come away with nothing but admiration for the police officers, who wisely prioritized using their resources on such a brazen and community-destroying crime.

The town of Watumpka, and all of America, owes a debt to these fine men.

assorted color kittens
Alston and Roberts were feeding vicious beasts like the ones pictured above Credit: Pixabay/Pexels