What is done to cats . . .
A Poignant reminder of where citizen apathy and indifference can lead:
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
What does 800 cats processed through TNR mean?
What were the sources of those 800 trapped cats? How many from colonies, how many from other sources?
Does that mean more than 800 cats were trapped, but 800 were processed for release?
Is that a total of 800 cats trapped but some were euthanized due to disease or injury, or given to shelters?
What is the real figure of cats released back to the streets?
Were any records kept answering the above questions? If so, by whom?
This 800 cat number is an example of the sloppy, amateurish manner in which this program is managed, or rather not managed. Additionally, it manipulates public opinion by presenting superficial, unexplained numbers that most people will not think to question.
these studies openly admit that TNR will not be effective at eliminating feral cat populations." Dr. Brian Monk, DVM, "A Veterinarian's Perspective on the Feral Cat Issue", http://blog.aba.org/2013/03/open-mic-addressing-the-feral-cat-issue.html
Commentary on 2/11/14 video:
Commentary of 11/22/11 video clip 4 of 4:
Commentary on 07/30/13 video clip:
7/16/12 – email Biegler to Spears, who, as judged by the content, is a TNR advocate. Pay particular note to Biegler saying, "we believe firmly in being as transparent as possible about our performance." I hereby give first person testimony that the TNR program is not transparent.
1/8/13 – best friends grant application approved (see City Docs page for video)
2/26/13 – first reading of the ordinance, many supporters present, but no detractors (see City Docs page for video)
3/12/13 - Mayor– ordinance approved. (see video clip below in The Mayor's Colony Story.)
7/30/13 - Biegler reports on progress of Save A Pet program, TNR, partnership with Paws Humane.
Commentary on 03/12/13 video
Commentary on 11/22/11 video clip, 1 of 4:
Commentary on 11/22/11 video clip, 2 of 4:
Short says TNR is a nationally recognized program. It is nationally recognized by its supporters, not by science or the individuals and organizations that care about the cruelty to the cats, the destruction of wildlfe, the loss of property rights, and the health risks posed by feral cats.
Regardless of the rosy picture drawn by TNR advocates such as our Mayor, life for feral cats in an urban jungle is a life of suffering (16.) . . . and of inflicting suffering (17.). In the lifetime of those well-fed cats, how many birds and wild mammals did they torture and kill, just for entertainment. Moreover, Columbus is officially a bird sanctuary. I can hardly process that paradox. To be accurate, Columbus should be re-designated as a feral cat sanctuary.
The Columbus Tnr program was initiated to reduce euthanasia rates at animal control and to satisfy the demands of no-kill advocates represented by Paws Humane and their supporters. Paws Humane was able to influence the passage of the program because it has a powerful position enabled by city partnership, ACC Board membership, and land donation, and with the support of the Mayor, a colony keeper. The TNR program represents emotional choices rather than logical thinking and scientific method. Emotional thinking is self-absorbed and does not consider consequences. Logical thinking is objective and takes into consideration the present and long-term consequences and effects of decisions and actions.
As shown in these videos and in CC minutes, the Save A Pet program was in action by the fall of 2011; the TNR program is part of that umbrella program. Not once in videos, minutes, or media does anyone say that the Save A Pet program is in action but TNR is not. Rather, those reports to council are always painted with praise for TNR. Additionally, the sudden, steady drop in euthanasia rates year by year starting in 2011 indicates it was in action: TNR is a feral cat release and pepetual maintenance program that reduces euthanasia rates, but has no effect on city wide feral cat populations. According to Biegler, 800 feral cats have been released since September alone. The wild animals and birds that belong in nature by genetics and birthright are casually discarded, as is the health of citizens. One can love cats at the same time one supports reason, science, and respect for ALL creatures.
5. Zoonotic Diseases, Feral Cats - http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/681002-zoonotic-diseases-associated-with-free-roaming.html
15. Oocysts at the human-animal-environment interface - www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3779781/pdf/nihms507392.pdf
17. www.tnrrealitycheck.com/basicInfo.asp (para. 5)
Commentary on 11/22/11 video clip, 3 of 4
At the August 8, 2008 meeting of the Animal Control Advisory Board, Tom Bryan, Chair, and a member of the Humane Society,
introduced Tracy Dean, also a member of the Humane Society, to the Board as the TNR Representative who would explain TNR to them. The composition of the board members that day was:
The composition of membership has change since this meeting: two members are required from Paws Humane, and the four citizen requirement has been reduced to two citizens (1.). At the September 13, 2011 ACC board meeting, a member asked about an ordinance that would permit two City Councilors to hold seats on the board. Lisa Goodwin, Deputy City Manager, who attended the meeting to report on the Save a Pet program and how it would reduce euthanasia rates, "informed the board that it will be moved on and an ordinance change may be made" (2). If two City Councilors were added to the board it has not shown up in membership listing since this meeting.
Excerpt from the August 08, 2008 meeting of the Board:
“Tom Bryan introduced Tracy Dean, MCHS, and “TNR” (Trap Neuter & Return) Program Representative, to the board. Tracy Dean educated the board on the “TNR” Program and gave a copy of “What is TNR?” Results and Numbers of TNR. (A copy was mailed to ACAB Members). She feels this would be a good program to help control the population of cats for our community (3). The board discussed guidelines for cat colonies, suggesting that all colonies have Managers and Assistance Managers. They discussed not changing the ordinance but adding to the ordinance giving the managers of the cat colony’s legal authority, but maintaining their accountability to the laws governing animals” (4.). A note: The Ordinance that passed on March 12, 2013 re-designated cat colony keepers as ‘non owners”, which relieved them of the legal consequences of ownership. See City Documents page for the ordinance).
City Narrative Page
published March, 2014 original text and drawings copyright Feb. 2014 TNRFactCheck.org
"This solution [TNR] on its face has a certain moral palatability and logical origin. If all feral cats are prevented from reproducing, then eventually the population will be reduced to zero, and this can be accomplished without killing a cat. The flaws in this thinking should be apparent. Not all cats can be captured, and these continue to reproduce. New individuals can enter the TNR area at will, and they will reproduce. And surgical sterilization does nothing to prevent continued predation on native wildlife. TNR can neither eliminate feral cats, nor reduce predation, and does not address illness or disease, facts supported by actual scientific study.Proponents of TNR ignore these facts. They downplay or deny outright the problems with rabies and other diseases. They counter that feral cats are a natural part of the ecosystem and play an important role in the biologic control of pest species, that the estimation of wildlife killed by cats is grossly exaggerated, and that conservation groups have more important things to worry about. They have provided no studies that refute the numbers of wildlife killed.
The studies that they do refer to regarding the effectiveness of TNR are of limited scope, and often contradictory in their findings. All of
"You cannot ask elected officials to turn their city into a cat colony!" cried commissioner Barry Dockswell, Pompano, Fla.
2/11/14 - another grant application approved.
An employee at a shop in Main Street Village that backs up to Country's Barbeque on Whittlesley, told me about their problem with feral cats. They are frequently unable to use the back room of the shop, which is their kitchen and break room, because the stink of cat urine overwhelms them.
A woman on Winchester Dr. complained about feral cats on her porch and in her yard.
Another person on Gurley Dr. stopped attracting birds to her yard because of feral cats killing them.
Another woman sees a feral cat roaming through her yard a couple of times a day carrying a dead bird, chipmonk, or squirrel in its mouth. She is tired of burying the birds and small mammals the cat drops when she chases it away.
A visitor was asked by someone at Animal Control if she would allow them to start a feral cat colony on her 10 acres in Box Springs, Talbot Country. This is an example of the mismanagement of this program, and the spreading of cats into areas where there are not feral cats, in this case, into another county.
Another woman's testimony - she is sick of the stink of cat urine in her garage.
A Day Care Center on Buena Vista Rd: they are afraid of the feral cats roaming their playground. They fear a child will catch toxoplasmosis from the feces, and that a parent will sue them. If that happens, it won't be the cat keeper that pays the bills since he or she is exempt from the responsibilities of ownership, and the city is protected from liability. Re providing a perpetual maintenance program for feral cats and reducing euthanasiz rates worth the risk?
Another woman - feral cat climbed into her car and sprayed urine on the seats last fall. Even though she paid to have the interior cleaned, there is still a faint cat urine smell in the car, stronger when the windows have been closed for an extended period.
I ended the feral cat population in my St. Elmo neighborhood by trapping 48 ferals in my yard between 2000 to 2002, then delivering them to Animal Control for euthanasia. I did not see another feral cat in this area until November of 2013, after the TNR program began. I saw three. When I trapped one of them and took it to an control, I learned about the TNR program when the clerk told me the cat would be re-released. I have not seen the other cats again.
I have talked with two Biologists at Columbus State. All vehemently oppose TNR. None were ever contacted by the city to get their professional opinions on the impact of TNR on health and environment.
I have spoken to 3 Columbus vets who oppose TNR, again vehemently, due to the type of sterilization used on the cats, the cruelty to the cats, well documented health risks, and the damage to wildlife; others I have called or emailed did not respond back. I have not tried to contact all of the vets in this areas.
Toxoplasmosis: a woman related her story to me about contracting Toxo from cat feces: she is 43, was blinded in one eye by Toxoplasmosis at the age of 8 when she and a friend were playing in a sandbox in her yard. The friend picked up a handfull of sand from the box and threw it at her. The sand contained cat feces. It struck her in the eye, instantly infecting her eye with the parasite. Even intensive treatment with anti parasitic drugs failed to kill and remove the parasite. She will carry it the rest of her life, along with the scar tissue and the form of the parasite visual on the ball of her eye, and she will carry always the memories of the painful treatment.
Wildlife Predation: Rehabilitator in the Columbus area specializing in birds: last year, out of 300 submissions, 80% were cat caught.
These are the beliefs and attitudes of Becky Carter, the director, as she revealed to me and as I read on her website:
In a phone conversation with her on 11/22, I asked what she thought about the 1.7 to 3.8 Billion birds cats kill each year:
She replied: "I only care about cats" and "Birds kill cats."
And when asked how she handles complaints from neighbors, she told me she ignores their complaints and recommends they spray the cats with water. This is the person to whom the City has given control of the program. How do you property owners feel about her advice and arrogant, dismissive attitude?
The following statements on the Animal SOS website reveal her purpose for the TNR program; it is not population reduction. “We believe these programs will result in healthier cats living in our community..."No mention of population reduction.
Furthermore, she claims there are no health risks, but that's part of the TNR script: "Free-roaming cats (this term includes social and feral cats) live outdoors on their own. They are former pets or the offspring of former pets. They belong to no one but were created by everyone, so they are also known [as] community cats. Studies have shown that these cats pose virtually no risks to the public safety." Science, people bitten by rabid cats, and dealing with diseases caught from cat feces, dispute that statement. It is apparent where the dialogue in this Ordinance originated, from people like Ms. Carter and Best Friends. They use the same language and mouth the same cliches, and all one can conclude is that it matters nothing at all to them that their claims are inaccurate, false, disputed by science, and that their activities hurt other people, other animals, and the cats themselves. It is all about their own beliefs, no consideration for anything else.
A government should make critical assessments before it implements programs and ordinances that affect an entire populace. After all, legislation affects everyone, not just the few. Who is representing the moderate people in the Columbus government? It doesn't appear that anyone, even our city councilors, acted to protect us.
There are people in Columbus with moderate views about animals. That does not mean we don't love and respect animals. It means we have a realistic attitude, can weigh the consequences of our beliefs and actions against the potential damage, then make a rational decision. We have been sidelined in the crush to satisfy fanatics who are pressuring the city to reduce euthanasia rates regardless of the collateral damage done to people and animals. A government should not be in the business of lowering euthanasia rates and animal control should not be an animal shelter. It should act and be what its name says it is, Animal Control; it is not called Animal Shelter.
No one in the city asked for public involvement or opinions about a TNR program; those of us who were denied a voice are suffering the consequences of legislation done to us, not with us. Facebook pages, council agendas published in nearly illegible type size in a corner of the paper once a week, and ccgtv, are passive outlets, take no effort, and at best only give lip service to a requrement; they are not active attempts to notify and engage the citizenry. People either happen to get word or they don't. Yet, TNR supporters were notified so they could appear to lend their support. Such a polarizing issue as TNR that has such serious consequences should have drawn quite a large and diverse citizenry of stakeholders.
One Belongs. One Does Not.
Where's the justice in that?
Ms. Dean did not "educate" them on TNR. She gave a biased, favorable view of TNR that did not include any of the negative consequences of TNR programs. Educating is not withholding. The citizens present who could have had an impact on the outcome, according to the minutes, did not question what she said. The purpose of controlling feral cat populations was appealing, but that was not the true objective; the true objective is to lower euthanasia rates, as is stated repeatedly from this point forward in minutes and media). It is probable that these citizens did not know anything about TNR so were set up to accept what they were told. Additionally, they may have felt too intimidated to speak against the majority. Some of them may have been no kill supporters, increasing that representation. One wonders why the veterinarians didn't speak up, even though the AVMA opposes the cruelty to the cats and health concerns created by TNR programs. One of the veterinarians told me he did not speak up because he feared backlash, both personally and against his veterinary practice. The deck was stacked to approve TNR. Ironically, one of the members from the city represents the board of health and is the rabies officer for the city! For the safety of citizens, this person should have spoken up, at least questioned health issues. Ignorance is not an excuse: anyone who wants to know about the health risks of TNR can instantly find them on the web (5.).
This 2008 meeting was not an objective committee meeting with the purpose to consider and investigate the pros and cons of a proposed program, then make a recommendation. Consideration requires that both sides of an issue are investigated. But then, TNR was not even introduced as a program to consider. It was a done deal before Ms. Dean stood by the podium.
According to the Save A Pet Guide, the purpose of the board is to "monitor the operation of the Animal Control and Enforcement Division and render such guidance and assistance as is deemed appropriate in order to encourage responsible pet ownership” (6.). Monitoring implies objective oversight. A board composed of employees from the agency it is supposed to monitor cannot monitor itself! There is another problem with the set up of this board. A majority of members continue on the board year after year. Citizens change, but not representation by the city or Paws members. Power structures grow the longer a person or organization holds office.
In a phone conversation with Ms. Dean on December 10, 2013, she told me that she did not know there was another view of TNR programs. She also told me that she used information written and provided by a TNR supporter, Brian Kortis, who is an employee of Petsmart Charities. Another influence on her was Best Friends Animal Society, a national no kill group that awards grants for implementing TNR programs - when they are implemented according to their requirements. Best Friends, Petsmart Charities, and others like them that give grants to initiate TNR programs are buying cities. Some of Best Friends best friends, such as Alley Cats and Alley Cat Allies, Animal SOS in Columbus, the group appointed by Animal Control to administer the TNR program, and other feral cat groups in Columbus and around the country, oppose cat restraint laws, disease testing of the cats, and confinement to sanctuaries. Their goal is to have feral cats declared protected wildlife. Ironically, Best Friends, on its land in Utah, does not allow free roaming cats. They confine their cats to the safety of cat “houses”.
Petsmart profits from the vast amount of cat food needed to feed cats under TNR programs. Petsmart awards large amounts of grant money to cities that initiate TNR. It is unethical for a city to seek and accept grant money to initiate programs that will endanger citizens, damage the environment, devastate bird populations, and restrict property ownership.
The TNR program benefits ACC because it reduces euthanasia rates. Paws, through an official partnership with Animal Control (7.), by donating the land Animal Control sits on, by membership on the Animal Control Advisory Board, by inserting their own volunteers into Animal Control, and with the help of the Mayor, gained the power within the government to impress their beliefs on the citizens of Columbus. Together, they accomplished passage of the TNR program in near public silence, without citizen involvement or permission and without any objective study or acknowledgement of the negative consequences of TNR. A private, not for profit organization, with city support, is setting public policy.Partnerships between non-profit groups with private agendas, and city agencies that are supposed to represent and work for all the citizens of the city, should not be allowed.
One has to wonder why no one in city council questioned such a one sided view of a program that would affect an entire city. The answer is not hard to find. The city and animal control are under siege by no kill advocates to stop euthanasia and TNR is a way to relieve that pressure. As for council members, to go with the flow is much easier than facing backlash from fanatics, and the monthly paycheck of one city councilor is paid by Tracy Dean, her employee. That explains his vote. Veterinarians must be careful about public statements against TNR because fanatics will brand them as cat haters.
During an interview on 12/5/13 with Drale Short, Animal Control Chief, when I asked what was the city objective for TNR, she told me it was population control: no mention of reducing euthanasia rates. This was not truthful. She testified at meetings prior to ours that reducing euthanasia rates is the objective, and still does testify to that, as seen in videos and minutes. I asked her for dates that open meetings were held to engage the public, the ways those meeting were advertised, and the names of anyone not in animal control, or among its supporters, who attended meetings to discuss TNR. She slid away from answering by directing me to submit a request in writing. When I submitted an OIA, she and the city ignored the first two requests. After a third attempt when I threatened to report the city to the State Attorney General’s office, Lucy Sheftall, the assistant city attorney, responded. She referred me to the internet, and said my questions would be too much work for them to answer (see city docs page for OIA). Ms. Sheftall addressed the TNR program as “our TNR program”. Why are they so secretive? That they did not follow the usual procedures when programs are considered? That the program was done in near public secrecy?
Animal Control is losing its self-identity and function. It is shifting away from performing its initial mission, which was to protect citizens by controlling animals, and shifting toward being an animal shelter in practice and intent, modeled after Paws.
TNR has been discussed at other ACC Board meetings post 2008, but always in support of TNR, not questioning it. City and Animal Control Minutes are on the City Council documents portal. Search for city minutes using keywords Council Minutes or ACAB (8),
Dates of minutes from the AC board meetings I found that relate to tnr and no kill objectives:
8/12/08 – ACC Board meeting – TNR proposed as a method of controlling feral cat populations (9.)
2/17/11 – ACC Board meeting minutes , micro chip cat in colonies (10.)
7-17-11 ACC Board meeting minutes - Tom Bryan, Paws, no kill (11.)
9/13/11 – ACC minutes – from the save a pet program, tnr purpose is to reduce euthanasia rates (12.)
2/26/13 – ACC board meeting, members invited to attend the first reading of the ordinance at city council that night (13.)
History of association between Paws Humane and Animal Control (14.):
1999 - PAWS Columbus was established as a nonprofit to partner with the City and help raise funds for a new shelter . PAWS purchased 11 acres of lanon Milgen Road to build a new facility.
2006 - a Memorandum of Understanding was established between the City and the Muscogee County Humane Society.
2008 - the MCHS donated 2.4 acres of land to the City of Columbus to build their new facility.
2009 – January, PAWS Columbus merged with the MC HS to form PAWS Humane, Inc.
Dates TNR is discussed in city council meetings (that I could locate):
2/26/08 - previous to the ACC board meeting when Dean presented TNR, Tom Bryan advises that “there is a cadre of citizens in our community who are working to end euthanasia as a way of population control”.
11/22/11 - Short makes a slide presentation to city council about the Save A Pet program, which includes the TNR program:
The following four video clips are from the 11/22/11 city council meeting:
The Mayor’s TNR colony story - what I know that she doesn’t know:
In newspaper articles and at city council meetings, I have seen Mayor Tomlinson recount her experience with a cat colony on which she practiced TNR when she lived in a different part of the Overlook neighborhood than she does now. She recounts this story as a testament to how well a TNR program is at reducing colony sizes. She speaks with much pride. Sometimes she says the colony had 65 residents; other times she says 55. At times, she says that at the end of her program, the colony had 5 residents, at other times she says 3. She doesn’t seem to know for sure how many there were to start or how many there were at the end. She also doesn't say how many years it took for the colony reduction.
What I know that she doesn’t know: the Mayor did not reduce the colony to 5 cats by TNR. 20 of them were trapped and exported to parts unknown by one of her neighbors who was sick of the stink of cat urine in her garage, cats feces in her yard, cats scratching the hood of her car, and cats using her porch as a sofa. That means 20 of the cats the Mayor cited among her 60 cat reduction, were not reduced by TNR. More of the cats were removed by another neighbor, but I don't know how many she trapped or what she did with them. TheMayor has said some of the cats were euthanized due to disease, but doesn't say how many. Now we have identified causes for the disappearance of approximately 40 of the 65 cats she thinks were removed by TNR. More of the cats surely died by vehicle, diseases they caught after they were trapped and re-released, and by fights with other cats, dogs, and wildlife. A few may have died of old age. After ticking off the known causes for reduction in numbers, we see that her claim of a 60 cat reduction by TNR was quite inaccurate, yet she attributed it to TNR. Reason: that is what she wanted to see. Unless she was standing next to every cat that disappeared when it disappeared, she does not know how each met its end, or even if some simply moved to greener pastures.
As the Mayor's case demonstrates, TNR is not a population control method, it is a perpetual maintenance program for feral cats that reduces euthanasia rates through release and abandonment. It is very likely that if the Mayor was not a colony keeper with a personal bias for TNR, TNR would not have been implemented, or at least, would have been subjected to the usual procedures of public discussion, objective examination, and disclosure.
What Cats Do . . .