In response to the Valley Voice’s article on the “County Responds to Mooney Grove Cat Controversy,” Dr. Weber, a TNR volunteer, had these comments: Supervisor Cox was offended that the county was portrayed as all we want to do is kill cats, which is far from the truth. What is the truth? As has been stated by county officials capturing stray cats and taking them to animal shelters has been standard practice at Mooney Grove for more than twenty years. This practice of trapping and killing is costly and inhumane. Out of more than 9013 cats found or turned over to animal shelters in Tulare County in 2011, 7,613 (or 84.4%) were euthanized, the latest figures compiled by the California Department of Public Health. Tulare County’s kill rates are the highest in California and are an unnecessary expense to Tulare County taxpayers. The TNR (Trap-Neutering-Releasing) program is humane and costs the Tulare County taxpayers nothing.
Concerning the TNR theory that an established colony keeps out new cats, Mr. Cox said, “I don’t think that is true” and he feels that the TNR Program could actually increase the number of cats. What is the truth? The Humane Society of the United States supports TNR. In September, 2013, that agency and other animal rights groups distributed a report on animal care and welfare making 23 recommendations to California animal control agencies, including the adoption of TNR Programs. “Where municipalities have shifted from euthanasia to TNR, they have not seen increases in problems associated with stray and feral cats. On the contrary, TNR practices can stabilize or decrease the size of the community of cat colonies,” according to the report, which also states that cats are more likely to be euthanized in animal shelters than dogs. According to a recent study it costs the county to trap, transport, euthanize and disposal of one cat approximately $185. The TNR program costs the Tulare County taxpayer nothing. The cost savings could be used to reduce the fees at our low-cost spay and neuter clinics.
Supervisor Cox believes that the cats have become a public safety issue for the people that use the park, particularly the threat of spreading disease. Mary Lindsay, assistant county administrative officer, said that another public safety is the fleas. What is the truth? All cats that have been through the TNR program have been tested for communicable diseases, have been spayed or neutered, are vaccinated for rabies and other communicable disease, and they are treated for fleas, mites, and dewormed. The cats then have their ear clipped for easy recognition. They are monitored and fed daily. All at no cost to the county. Approximately 80% of the cats in Mooney Grove Park have gone through the TNR program. These cats pose no more of a health or safety risk than the cats we have at home. And, if the county has a flea problem in Mooney Grove Park it is not because of the cats.
Mr. Cox admitted, “We could do a better job of getting the cats adopted out,” and then he suggested an “Adopt a Mooney Grove Cat Day.” We, the TNR volunteers, have an “Adopt a Mooney Grove Cat Day,” every day of the year. Since we started the TNR program we have found homes for at least 24 kittens and approximately a dozen adult cats. Finding good homes for the Mooney Grove kittens and cats has always been a key component of the TNR program. Unfortunately, not all cats are adoptable. We believe those cats have the right to life not death.
Finally, let me address the most egregious part of this article. It is the email concerning Neil Pilegard’s use of a bow and arrow to hunt the fowl in Mooney Grove Park. I find this behavior appalling. How can Mr. Pilegard, Tulare County Director of Parks, have such a complete and total disregard for public safety? Any weapon or device that would injure, maim, or kill an animal can just as easily injure, maim, or kill an adult or child! This conduct warrants further investigation. Mr. Pilegard’s actions should have consequences! Supervisor Cox and the county state, “There are legal consequences of perpetuating cruelty against any animal.” WORDS ARE CHEAP!
Dr. Larry Weber