I write in regard to Rosemarie Bauman's letter criticizing Baltimore's progressive new legislation, Bill 07-0753 Animal Control and Protection--Feral Cats, signed by Mayor Sheila Dixon on Nov. 27.
Ms. Bauman's letter ("'Feral' Cat Ordinance Will Be Ineffective," The Mail, Dec. 19) is a litany against feral cats and their caregivers. No one could possibly live up to her standard, whatever that might be.
Feral cats have been living around Baltimore since men and women have been building communities. They are a part of our landscape, and compassionate people have been sneaking around feeding and caring for them for just as long. Until recently, the city of Baltimore has fined its residents, at $100 per cat, for allowing a cat to "roam"; at $25 per cat, for not showing a Baltimore City cat license; at $50 per cat, for not showing a rabies certificate; and at another $100, for not having a kennel license.
Beginning on Dec. 27, instead of being fined, feral cat caregivers can come out of the closet, and they will have an opportunity to spay, neuter, and vaccinate these felines with TNR, Trap Neuter Return.
Since 2005, the Maryland Feline Society, in cooperation with the Maryland SPCA, with guidance from Animal Rescue, Inc. and with assistance from volunteers from Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, has been conducting monthly low-cost Trap Neuter Return clinics for feral cats. Rosemarie Bauman has used our low-cost feral clinic on more than one occasion. She has also constantly criticized us for the stand that our clinics were for ferals only; we do not accept pet cats. Rosemary Bauman will always find something to criticize. Most veterinarians are not equipped to deal with the wild cats that are brought to their hospitals in humane cat traps. This is the strength of feral-only clinics, and the feral community needs this help. No one will ever live up to Ms. Bauman's standard.
City Health Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Animal Control, BARCS, and the city are to be commended for saying yes to TNR. It brings us new hope for the new year.
The writer is the president of the Maryland Feline Society.
It might have been helpful if Rosemarie Bauman had offered alternative solutions in her letter criticizing Trap Neuter Return. As a cat trapper for 11 years, I have seen positive results, meaning fewer homeless cats, through TNR. Even if trap and eradicate, the former method of control, were effective, which it is not, the policy is totally impractical as most people do not want to be responsible for having a cat killed. With no other option available, most people will instead do nothing, thus ignoring the problem. With as many as 90 million homeless cats in the United States, the numbers speak for themselves.
For me, the most significant aspect of the new TNR law is that it provides a platform for educating the public about the utter importance of spay/neuter.
Trap Neuter Return is the only humane way to deal with feral cat populations. Of course it is not a cure-all: Indoor cats must be fixed in order to stop pet overpopulation and the formation of new feral colonies, but the problem of unadoptable outdoor cats must be addressed. If you don't want to kill them, the only method of control is through spay and neuter.
I am not entirely sure what critics of the new legislation legalizing TNR propose to do regarding the feral cats who continue to breed unchecked. To TNR's detractors, I say we are trying to help these cats in the best way we know how. It is not ideal for the cats to be living on city streets, no, but we aren't left with many options.
My heartfelt congratulations to you on an excellent bit of investigative reporting that The Sun and the state Department of Juvenile Services' Office of Investigations is incapable of doing ("The Colonel," Mobtown Beat, Dec. 12; "Juvenile Disservices," Mobtown Beat web exclusive, Nov. 28).
It is time to have the Justice Department come back to DJS under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act and take it apart position by position. During my time there--almost 13 years--nothing seems to have changed. The former head of DJS's Office of Professional Responsibility and Accountability apparently was finally forced out after the O'Malley administration looked at everyone that was left over from the past.
So why was Chris Perkins not properly vetted even though he was apparently a political appointee? Does the present DJS Office of Investigations lack the necessary intestinal fortitude to protect the kids first . . . or is it to protect an appointee by not having him go through the normal background-check process?
The remnants of the former "command" structure that was built up under Gov. Parris Glendening need to be put out to pasture immediately.
Youths need to be treated as human beings. The Montana report indicates constant pressure against a kid forcing them into constant mental "bunker syndrome" that ultimately produces a fully functional "random actor" upon release. Restorative justice requires fair treatment--not "hydration" that amounts to `'waterboarding."
DJS Secretary Donald DeVore needs to resign immediately. And Gov. Martin O'Malley owes a public apology to Maryland youth and parents for permitting "same old-same old" to continue.
Arms and Iran
Whatever the merits or demerits of the rest of Scott Ritter's remarks, we are troubled by his statement ("Bombs Away," Feature, Dec. 5): "The Iranians are not seeking to convert by the sword anybody. It's a nation that has serious internal problems. Economic. Huge unemployment. It's a nation that recognizes these problems. And they are in desperate need of . . . political stability."
We would like to point out that, not too long ago, a certain nation with serious internal economic problems--including unemployment--and certainly political ones, too, plunged the whole world into the bloodiest war it has known to date. I might add that the Bretton Woods international economic system was set up--largely to avoid recessions, depressions and resulting unemployment worldwide--in the wake of World War II.
For her part, Imperial Japan also suffered from domestic political instability, as generals and military factions assassinated political opponents and the military leaders made and broke governments at will.
Later on, Japan attacked the United States, a far greater economic and ultimately military power, against the advice of its best military expert (also a Harvard alumnus and former naval attaché in Washington), Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto.
More recently, over the two and a half years prior to Saddam Hussein's decision to invade Kuwait, Iraq's economy, political machinery, and society were racked by a series of economic reorganizations, multiple 180-degree turns in policy, and "socialist inflation"--unpredictable and rapid fluctuations in product values. This economic, political, and administrative instability took its toll on Saddam's followers; they now knew that they could not, by obeying him and otherwise showing him loyalty, guarantee themselves good careers.
Saddam knew that if he did not restore his credibility quickly, enough of his supporters would desert to enable someone else to take his place. He therefore invaded Kuwait--and stayed there despite the buildup to a war he would almost certainly lose to the U.S.-led coalition--in order to show that his word was indeed his bond.
We at the Rabid Tiger Project believe that internal instability can lead to the worst-case scenario--"irrational" attacks on greater powers, perhaps even the United States. Given Mr. Ritter's own remarks, Iran needs to be watched closely.
Correction: While the 8X10 does ban independent recording rigs at its live performances it does allow taping through the club's sound system, despite what we reported in last week's Music section opener on taper Jeff Mewbourn (Dec. 19). City Paper regrets the error.
Editor's note: Due to some e-mail server trouble and the schedule complications of the holiday season, Political Animal inadvertantly missed the paper this week. Brian Morton will be back in the new year.
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