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More On Cats

Posted 1/9/2008

After reading "Fuzzy Logic" (The Mail, Dec. 26), it is no longer "difficult for me, as a nurse, to comprehend why a society that created a problem of overpopulation and abandonment insists on treating the symptom of the disease and not the cause" ("`Feral' Cat Ordinance Will Be Ineffective," The Mail, Dec. 19).

The writer's logic, or "correct reasoning," was not only "fuzzy" but "invisible," as evidenced by her defensiveness and rhetoric in her responses to my letter.

Applying the science of logic to the problem of free-roaming abandoned cats would raise numerous questions before a meaningful solution could be identified and implemented. It also would require analytical thought and objectivity not present in the emotionally charged and subjective climate of "no kill," "rescue," and "adoption" of little and big "fuzzies"!

Implementing a "feral" cat program that frees up Animal Control to continue to create an image of a "kinder, gentler shelter" is a much easier and quicker way to deal with the problem?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, "the reduction in the total number of free-roaming cats trap-release programs will effect is insignificant."

Trap-release programs are also not simple or necessarily humane! According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, they "receive countless reports of incidents in which cats"--managed or not--"suffer and die horrible deaths because they must fend for themselves outdoors and cannot in good conscience advocate trapping and releasing as a humane way to deal with overpopulation." With the recent decrease in shelter hours of operation, many cats will be unable to reach the shelter to end their suffering, when indicated, and more cats will be abandoned by the public because of it. It is probably easier to create a kinder, gentler image of the shelter by keeping animals out of it than dealing with high impoundment rates creating a "cat crisis" and "cat overload" at the shelter.

Trap-release is a frivolous approach to the tragic and complex problem of free-roaming abandoned cats with many limitations and serious ethical implications and has no effect on the problem. It only serves as a convenient distraction from finding a comprehensive and permanent solution to the problem.

After almost six years in the "cat world," extensive Trap-Neuter-Release experience, and community outreach ("community health nurse for humans and cats") providing spay/neuter assistance to low-income communities averaging close to 1,000 cats per year, I invite ANYONE to accompany me on my weekly trips into low-income communities.

Then you, too, will find out where the cats are and what these communities and the cats need the most. It absolutely is NOT a "feral" cat program that does not even marginally address the problem and in the end will only be a "cat feeding" program with many more cats being born only to die outdoors!

Rosemarie Bauman
Glen Burnie

I would like to thank Rosemarie Bauman for introducing some common sense to the feral cat issues in Baltimore City. Catch and release programs are not in the best interest of public health, as she accurately pointed out. The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians has stated that there is no evidence that colony management programs will reduce diseases.

These programs are not only ineffective at eliminating colonies and do not provide a statistically significant reduction in the number of feral cats, but also are environmentally irresponsible. Any free-roaming cat poses a serious risk for native wildlife, already struggling to survive. Well-fed cats still hunt. Releasing these non-native predators is just one more way humans degrade what little habitat is left for our natural resources.

Ms. Bauman is correct in saying that different standards are applied to the "cat" world. We fight for open space, speak out against pesticides, decry communication towers and windmill farms, but we cannot admit to the damage done by free-ranging felines.

Feral cats are not wildlife--their home is not outdoors. Releasing domestic companion animals to live and die in the wild is neither ethical nor compassionate. This is a perceived easy way out for municipalities. Now Baltimore has joined the list of cities that do not make the health and welfare of their residents the priority.

Many adult feral cats can be socialized and adopted. More and more people are providing enclosed catteries or sanctuaries for ferals so they and wildlife can both be protected. We cannot Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) the 70 million cats now roaming the United States. Cats may have always been around, but not to this magnitude. The only purpose TNR serves is to avoid euthanasia. TNR sends a dangerous message to the public--if that cat can live outside, well, so can mine--and the dumping continues.

For more information visit TNRRealityCheck.com

Linda Cherkassky
Voorhees, N.J.

Bob on Bupe

The recent three-part Sun series on buprenorphine was valuable but demands a lot more analysis.

Bupe apparently has the ability to significantly overcome the desire for heroin, as well as to eliminate the pain and sickness of withdrawal. It is a major tool in the fight against addiction. It apparently does not have the negative effects of methadone, which tends to rot teeth and bones and is more addictive than the heroin it purports to treat.

Thousands of addicts who want to use bupe to get off heroin can't get it legally! Why can't they?

Another part of the Sun series reads, "It was never meant to treat people who live in chaos."

How do we give them not only "job skills," but also socially productive jobs that pay a living wage, with reasonable benefits and decent health care?

Three things: universal single-payer health insurance; a federal jobs and job-training program, reminiscent of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the Great Depression, only this time for everybody and anybody; and a re-industrialization of America. Three more things: End homelessness with decent, affordable housing for all, provide adequate public transit, and clean up the ecological crisis.

How to pay for it?

The hundreds of billions we waste on war, criminalizing addicts, and the social cost of ongoing poverty, as well as by eliminating the waste of human unemployment, should pay for a major portion. Taxing the 1 percent of filthy-rich Americans who own more wealth than 95 percent of us combined should easily make up for the rest.

City Paper's article on buprenorphine ("Drug Disabuse," Mobtown Beat, Dec. 19) was much more informative, readable, and on the mark than The Sun's recent three-part series.

A. Robert Kaufman
Baltimore

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