Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania city officials sent out an email on Wednesday stating that their feral cat program would end in 15 days. They allegedly lied. Traps have already been set to trap and kill the feral cats who come into the shelter.
City Attorney Tim Henry sent the notification to Dawn Mendygrap of Happy Hearts & Tails Safe Haven Animal Rescue and Brenda Buckler of Whiskers World saying the program would end. Henry didn’t give a reason.
Happy Hearts posted a statement Friday on their Facebook community page
“Traps already set in Wilkes Barre City. You see these cats ? They’ve already been spayed and neutered, vaccinated and ear tipped. Thank Mayor Tony George for this and his administration. SHAMEFUL. This is MURDER!!!!! HEALTHY, VETTED, HAPPY FED CATS, CARED FOR AND SHELTERED, PAID FOR BY THE TAX PAYING CITIZEN OF THE CITY TO HELP CONTROL THE OVERPOPULATION ARE NOW BEING REMOVED!!!!! These same people who complain they don’t want the cats in their yard are okay with luring them to be trapped. How disgusting.”
A tentative agreement was already in place where two TNR groups would respond to calls and trap feral cats and see that they’re neutered, vaccinated and ear-clipped then returned to their home. The agreement was set to run from April 15 through October 31.
Mendygrap says Mayor Tony George is “fully aware of what will happen to these cats. We’ve told them all. They just signed (the cats’) death certificates. No cat is safe now in Wilkes-Barre.”
City Administrator Rick Gazenski confirmed that not only were emails sent out, but letters were sent as well. Gazenski stated the agreement was terminated because people were complaining about the cats and the advocacy groups were understaffed to the point they weren’t responding to many calls for assistance.
It’s alleged residents were told by TNR representatives to have the city trap the cats and take them to the SPCA. Gazenski also alleges the groups didn’t provide sonar devices to residents who wanted the feral cats off of their property and to educate feeders how to be responsible for their colony cats.
Supposedly, 53 complaints have been documented since April 15. One complaint said cats had ruined her mulch garden. Another complained a neighbor was feeding the cats after sunset (which is prohibited in Wilkes-Barre).
Several residents say they want more than to have the cats TNR’d. They want the cats gone permanently. Others complain the rescue groups are rude. The groups have denied this. The rescue groups have stressed that “People have to understand we are not going to come to trap cats in an hour or two. You have to wait until we can schedule an appointment.”
City officials never gave the rescue groups the opportunity to respond to any complaints before ending the program. I’m not sure whether these traps were set by neighbors acting on their own or whether it’s with the city officials blessing.
A Change.org petition has already gathered more than 5,000 signatures to save the cats. There’s a lot of truth in the message on the petition webpage.
“They have since reneged on the deal & plan to go back to trapping & carting the cats to the SPCA where they will be immediately euthanized due to over-population at the shelter.
This doesn’t just affect the feral populations…this includes friendly strays, indoor/outdoor pets, & indoor pets that accidentally get out if trapped. Tell Wilkes-Barre their methods will not be tolerated.
TNR programs WORK if given the necessary time to do so…it is not something that just fixes things overnight. In addition, rodent & other pest populations will skyrocket if their natural born hunters are made non-existent to keep their populations under control.”
Other communities who have banned TNR have learned the meaning of The Vacuum Effect. It’s a shame the feral cats are caught up in something they have no control over, as the problem always comes back to people who don’t spay/neuter their cats or abandon them to fend for themselves.
NOTE: An information update tonight by Happy Hearts & Tails. Actress Loretta Swit (From M.A.S.H.) and Alley Cat Allies are working together for a solution. I will update this situation when I know more..