For four years, three women, one of whom is Maryanne Maxwell, have been caring for feral cats in Wheeling, West Virginia. They feed them and have provided makeshift shelters for them. The shelters are obviously particularly important at this time of year.
They pay for cat food and veterinary care out of their own pockets. They could hardly be more conscientious citizens. Although the report on WTRF.com does not mention that they are managing a TNR program ,which may be the problem. There is no mention of vaccinations under a TNR program.
The Ohio County Health Department Administrator, Howard Gamble has decided unequivocally without discussion or any attempt to negotiate (as I understand it) that the feral cats and their shelters must be removed by Christmas Day otherwise a contracted agency or Animal Control will remove them. This must mean death for these cats.
The ladies don’t understand why the local authority has suddenly decided to come down on them like a ton of bricks in such a devastating manner. They say that there has never been a problem or any complaints until now. Someone complained and the cats have to go.
“It’s going to be really cold, and it’s going to break our hearts to think that their beds are going to be taken away,” said Maxwell.
“They can’t stay there with the number one risk which is rabies. There’s no guarantee that the cats that are sitting there are completely vaccinated and harmless,”
Am I correct in saying that if the ladies were running a TNR program the cats would have been vaccinated against rabies? Is it too late to do this? Couldn’t there have been a discussion and some help provided by the local authority to resolve the matter in a more humane and reasonable way?
The ladies are working their socks off to find homes for the cats. This implies, incidentally, that the cats are not feral but semi-feral or semi-domesticated. All the more reason perhaps to find a humane solution rather than hand down threats of euthanasia.
Gamble’s fear is rabies. I understand that because he has to protect the community. However, rabies is very rare in outside cats. The best way forward is for the authorities to work with Maxwell and her colleagues. I hope that they do so in the interests of the cats involved.