FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla: Almost impossible to feed homeless people. No chance for homeless cats.

For me, in an act of callous inhumanity, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida legislature has placed such severe restrictions upon feeding the homeless people that they have all but banned it, which begs the question, what chance is there for homeless cats who are made homeless by irresponsible cat ownership and neglect?

Mr Abbott feeding the homeless
Mr Abbott feeding the homeless. Photo: Ryan Stone for The New York Times
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The banning of feeding homeless people is ethically very similar to the bans on feeding stray cats in various parts of the US. Well it is for me. There is a civic duty to care for the vulnerable.

The people who make the law in Fort Lauderdale Florida have, for some time been trying to clear up the streets of homeless people, of which there are many in that part of the United States of America because it is a warm state, which makes living outside more agreeable.

They want to brush the homeless under a gigantic carpet but there isn’t a carpet big enough because Florida has the third highest numbers of homeless people in the USA.

I can see the argument. Businesses don’t want their profits eroded by customers being put off by the sight of homeless people. Feeding them in public places encourages them to remain. That is the argument. The same argument would apply to stray cats.

The legislature of Fort Lauderdale has clearly been unable to enact a simple law which totally bans feeding homeless people (that would clearly be unacceptable). They have therefore placed heavy restrictions upon feeding people in public places such as a toilet has to be provided and feeding stations have to be 500 meters apart et cetera.

These restrictions are so heavy that it is impossible for charitable people and volunteers to comply with them and therefore they fall foul of this law and are arrested.  One such person is a 90-year-old man whose name is Arnold Abbott.

He’s frail but determined and I’m sure that he has the admiration of very many residents of Fort Lauderdale. There is a petition in support of him and against the law.

The problem with this law is that the driving force is business. Of course business is important as ultimately the taxes created can help the poor. However, there is no question that an effective ban on feeding the homeless in public places is callous and heartless and quite wrong. With politicians who make laws like this we can only come to the conclusion that homeless animals have no chance of surviving in public places.

This ordinance regarding feeding homeless people does indicate how hard-nosed and in cahoots with business politicians can be. It is no way to behave. There is need for a heightened awareness of the welfare of both people and companion animals – the mark of a civilized society.  To have society run by business is simply not good enough.

There has to be a balance between business and the welfare of vulnerable people and animals and that balance has not been struck in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

The solution is not banning feeding the homeless but to invest in preventative measures to reduce the numbers of the homeless. I know they do that but not enough. In the same vein, with respect to the domestic cat, legislators need to find ways to improve cat ownership.

11 thoughts on “FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla: Almost impossible to feed homeless people. No chance for homeless cats.”

  1. When compassion and kindness become criminal acts you know your society is in danger.I am appalled by these bans on people and cats. There is something wrong with people these days.

    • When compassion and kindness become criminal acts you know your society is in danger

      That sums it up nicely Geri. It is difficult balance I believe but this is crazy. I am convinced that business is behind this. It is like China clearing up (killing) all the stray cats before the Beijing Olympics.

  2. Dee irrespective of size, I think there’s a huge difference in cultural attitudes between our nations.

    I hope the authorities are suitably ashamed when they realise this news story has gone global. Arresting a 90 year old man for feeding homeless people (or animals for that matter) is despicable.

  3. This is crazy and cruel. I’ve signed that petition and left a few choice comments regarding the arrest of Arnold Abbott.

    No offence to our American friends, but the more I hear about the U.S. the more I appreciate life in the U.K.

    • Me too, sometimes, Michele.
      But, I always have to keep in mind that we are 40 times larger than the UK. And, change comes more slowly here.
      I love this 90 year old man who would rather face jail than let the homeless go hungry. He’s a hero.

  4. “POVERTY” exists in every Country, only difference being the levels and methods of determining the same in every country.If people can’t get food and shelter then imagine the plight of stray animals on the street. Luckily in most Indian city’s stray animals are not euthanized but allowed to exist in the wild street life.

  5. I’m disgusted and ashamed by this.
    What chance does a homeless cat have to get a morsel of food when a 90 year old person is going to jail for feeding homeless people?
    It’s insane. And, I won’t even go into how any American could possibly be hungry in this country.
    I’m going to read up on their animal ordinances and expect that I will become enraged.
    Stand back!

    • America is famed for being rich. It is a good country. One of the very best. Yet because of business interests influencing politicians the most vulnerable are shunned and brushed under the carpet — not good, and it bodes very badly for all the vulnerable including homeless cats.


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