DEAR DR. FOX: Thank you so much for sharing the letter about Inky, the friendly cat who was abandoned. I am the director of and humane investigator for the Danville Area Humane Society in Danville, Va. We are very much opposed to trap-neuter-release, and are facing outrage from the pro-TNR folks. As soon as I send this email to you, I will write our response to a recent letter to the editor in our local paper proclaiming that we "kill" cats just to make money. We have an endless supply of pictures that tell one thing -- the streets are not safe for cats.
In Virginia, we actually had to fight a legislative battle two years ago when TNR proponents wanted to trap, neuter and release cats onto private property without the owners' permission. In addition, proponents said that the cats would not need to be fed, watered, monitored for health issues, etc. Yet they wanted me charged with cruelty for euthanizing shelter animals!
With people who are mistreating animals, we can seize the animals and take the owners to court. Now, many people who believe the only measure of progress is in having no euthanasia in a shelter hail the "no-kill" operators as heroes and we are the scum who do nothing but kill, kill, kill. We are on call all day, every day, and we leave at a moment's notice to rescue animals from trees, sewers, the middle of the road and so on.
Again, thank you for running the experience of Inky, and thank you for your response. -- P.D., Danville, Va.
DEAR P.D.: I appreciate readers' feedback on the issues concerning the health, wellbeing and rights of companion and farmed animals.
There is less fiduciary corruption in the fundraising activities of the larger national animal and environmental protection organizations than there is a lack of vision and accountability for their actions and interventions, which is supported by a sentimentally motivated, but misguided, public. They may hold feel-good conferences and consultations with "experts," but the reality of having to exercise humane stewardship, which on occasion includes the killing of animals to help reduce animal suffering and restore ecological integrity, cannot be ignored.
Playing on public sentiment to raise money to "protect" feral cats, including dumping these animals instead of euthanizing the unadopted and unadoptable and putting local animal shelters that must euthanize in the spotlight of public condemnation, is wholly unethical and self-serving.
As a culture, we hold such an abhorrence of death that we bankrupt the health care system by preventing death in the elderly and already dying. When it comes to euthanasia, we do a better job in most animal shelters now that decompression chambers, curare-like injections that paralyze and suffocate, and carbon monoxide from gasoline engines have been outlawed. In fact, we kill these animals in a more humane way than we do our own kind: In Ohio recently, a death-row inmate's suffering was protracted by the use of inappropriate drugs.
I take my hat off to all who work in animal shelters across the U.S. who take the animal "garbage" of a disposable society, and must kill more than they can ever hope to adopt. This killing is a reality. It can be reduced, but not subverted or lambasted by those who seek to capitalize on this companion animal population crisis in many of our communities. The much-lauded TNR method of "helping" unhomed cats, which may work in a few locations where there is no threat to wildlife, is neither a panacea nor an appropriate response to the companion animal population and homelessness crisis that we face as a society today, from the dogs in the streets of Detroit to the cats in New Orleans.
I advise my readers to support your local animal shelter: Adopt one or two animals rather than purchasing one from a big commercial kitten and puppy mill breeder or online outlet; volunteer; and get on the board!
CAT SAVES WOMAN HAVING A STROKE
According to reporter Sarah Okeson of Springfield, Mo., Erna Pratt credits her 13-year old cat, Trigger, with saving her life. The cat woke Pratt's daughter when Pratt, 75, was immobilized due to a stroke. Trigger was in the kitchen when Pratt's stroke began and, at the command of her owner, went to another room and meowed loudly to wake Pratt's daughter, who called 911. The cat "literally saved my life," said Pratt, who recovered and is back at home with her family.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
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