In Worcester County, USA, there are too many stray cats. That’s what they say. The sheriff says that domestic animals must be under the control of the owner and all times. If they allow their pets to wonder they will be fined. However, he does say that if stray cats are picked up by animal control owners have 10 days to claim them.
This is not the case. The 10 day rule is abused at Worcester County Animal Control. By which it is meant that animals are killed well before the 10 days are up. In addition, animal control make it almost impossible for a cat owner to recover their cat. They put up barriers with the intention of euthanising cats to reduce stay cat numbers in the area. And the reason for that harsh, inhumane policy is because the authorities don’t want to upset tourists.
There appears to be a hidden agenda in Worcester County which brings to mind the policy of the Beijing authorities before the Olympic Games when they cleaned up all the streets of stray cats and dogs so as not to upset foreign tourists.
Susan Coleman, the director of the Community Cat Coalition talks about a cat whose name was Oliver. Oliver had been through a trap-neuter-release programme. His ear had been tipped and therefore animal control would have known that he had been neutered and was disease-free.
Oliver had been picked up by animal control, who had ostensibly stopped him being reclaimed by Susan Coleman to allow her to return him to his outdoor colony.
“He still alive, but he’s scheduled to be killed, let’s just call it what it is, in 10 days… They won’t give us our cat, just in case it came in contact with a rabid cat, which it hasn’t. This happens all the time.”
What Susan said is echoed by a woman she refers to. A woman had telephoned her crying because her cat had been trapped in her neighbourhood. The woman saw her cat in the trap. She was told that she could not touch the trap because it was government property. She told them that her cat was domesticated and part of her family but it did not make any difference.
Animal control told her that they needed to take the cat and impound it and that she should come and claim her cat for a charge of hundred dollars. She rushed down to animal control to claim her cat but they had already put her cat down.
Clearly that story indicates that the 10 day policy is a fiction. It is not in anyway complied with. It strongly indicates that the policy of Worcester Animal Control is to clean up the streets. It doesn’t matter if the cats are feral, stray or outside domestic cats.
Worcester County Animal Control put up barriers when a person tries to reclaim their cat by asking for a large amount of information such as a certificate and all the cat’s records. The person is not allowed to see the cat during this process. This prevents the person identifying their cat. This creates a situation where it is impossible to reclaim a cat.
It would seem that Worcester County Animal Control are putting up barriers to give them time to kill cats. Although, that said, they do not adhere to the 10 day policy anyway. The 10 day rule follows the guidelines of CDC for animal to be quarantined for 10 days for observation to check for rabies.
Worcester County Humane Society has a completely different policy which is in conflict with Worcester County Animal Control. The humane society is no kill whereas animal control’s policy is to kill.
There is a problem, however, in the area in that there are too many unwanted cats. The humane society struggle with a lack of funding. They are not supported financially by Worcester County.
To return to Oliver. People have protested over his death. People congregated in front of the town hall in Snow Hill. Banners read “Oliver Deserved To Live”. He did. If the policy had been adhered to properly he would have lived. If animal control was not playing games and was not carrying out a killing agenda he would have lived.
To me, what is going on in Worcester County reflects the disparate attitudes of the population in general regarding cats that wander outdoors. Some people want rid of them at any cost which means killing them while other people want to deal with the problem in a far more humane way if indeed it is a problem. Some people believe that feral cats are useful.
No matter which side of the fence you are on it is very hard to to deny that Oliver’s death was unnecessary. He had been processed properly and was being dealt with humanely. He wasn’t a danger to people. He deserved to live out his life. The ruthless attitude to kill him was inhumane. The cat becomes the victim, the innocent victim of human failure both to satisfactorily care for a domestic cat on the one hand and to kill cats unnecessarily on the other.
Note: this article contains both fact and opinion – my opinion which is premised the concept that cats and humans are equal.