A stray cat was brought to Prince George’s County Animal Shelter with an array of wounds to his ears, limbs and tail that left him limping and weak. It was clear that this poor cat had been through extreme cruelty and was suffering greatly. Because of the severity of his injuries and necessary treatment, Alley Cat Rescue came in and rescued this traumatized cat.
Looking at his gashed ears and nearly amputated toes it was clear that these injuries were the result of intentional animal cruelty. Our veterinarian assessed him and his prognosis was worse than we could have anticipated. The abuser had tortured the cat over a course of weeks. The cat had slowly suffered with no veterinary care or compassion. The abuser had tied the cats tail and limbs tightly and had cut his ears. His tail became necrotic and required surgical removal. The toes on three of his legs were hanging by threads and our vet removed the toes as well. He is finally receiving the love and compassion he deserves here at Alley Cat Rescue. After the horrible ordeal he suffered he somehow still trusts humans and loves to nudge people and have his head pet. We have named him Hardy, which means courageous and capable of enduring difficult conditions. This certainly describes Hardy’s brave yet gentle personality.
Hardy’s case illustrates the real life costs of animal cruelty. Hardy’s case shows a severe form of animal cruelty where an abuser took advantage of an innocent and voiceless creature for their own sadistic purposes. Animal cruelty is often an indicator of a violent personality. Offenders who begin by abusing animals can escalate to abusing and even killing humans. A 10 year study of at risk children found that children that were cruel to animals were more than twice as likely to be referred to authorities for violent offenses[i]. Animal abusers are more likely to be convicted of other types of crimes such as violent, property and drug crimes[ii]. We as a society need to take animal cruelty seriously, not only by prosecuting offenders but by proactively helping pets leave violent homes.
As animal cruelty is a predictor crime, it is also an indicator crime. This means that in homes where animal cruelty is occurring there can be other victims such as spouses and children. The co-occurrence of domestic violence and animal cruelty is well reported. In a study conducted at a domestic violence shelter, 71% of women with companion animals reported that their pets had been threatened, abused or killed by their partner[iii]. This is why the Pet and Women Safety Act is crucial to help protect both human and non-human victims of violence. This federal bill would provide funding to domestic violence shelters for them to include pets in their housing, encourage states to include pets in Orders of Protection and include hurting or threatening a victim’s pet to the definition of stalking in the federal criminal code. Although we do not yet know Hardy’s backstory, abusers mutilate and torture countless cats to control or punish their victims. The Pet and Women Safety Act would allow domestic violence victims to escape their abusers with their pets, who could also fall victim to violence. Alley Cat Rescue supports the Pet and Women Safety Act and is working to help pass this necessary bill. We urge you to reach out to your legislators and ask them to support this bill. We also urge anyone who has information on Hardy to contact Prince George’s County Animal Control who is investigating his case.
[i] Becker, K.D., Herrera, V.M., McCloskey, L.A. & Stuewig, J. (2004). A Study of Firesetting and Animal Crueltymin Children: Family Influences and Adolescent Outcomes, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 43(7).
[ii] Luke, C., Arluke, A. & Levin, J. (1997). Cruelty to Animals and Other Crimes:A
Study by the MSPCA and Northeastern University, Massachusetts Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 1997.
[iii] Frank, A.R. (1998). Battered women’s reports of their partners’ and their children’s cruelty to animals. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 1, 119-133.
Today is National Bird Day, a day to celebrate bird species across the United States. Alley Cat Rescue cares deeply about the welfare of all animals. This is why we work hard to end the scapegoating of cats for bird population declines. We believe it is important to focus on the root causes of bird population declines, such as habitat loss and climate change if we want to save bird species.
According to the 2016 State of the Birds Report, one third of all bird species need urgent conservation action. The largest percentage of bird species in crisis are ocean birds with 57% of ocean birds at a high conservation concern. The report lists the small ranges and severe threats to their habitats as the reasons for their population declines[i]. Bird populations are actually increasing in urban areas where most feral cats live[ii].
Conservationists and government officials continue to blame feral cats as a major cause for the decline in bird and wildlife populations, despite the fact that national and world reports clearly conclude that human activity is the true culprit[iii][iv]. As we approach the planet’s sixth mass extinction event, scientists warn that human activity is the driving force behind this current state[v]. Further, as our nation continues to become industrialized threats like windows, communication towers and wind turbines will become more pervasive[vi][vii].
Although cats do hunt, they largely hunt rodents. When they do hunt birds, they will often hunt sick or young birds. This phenomenon has been deemed “doomed surplus” because these birds have a low chance of survival.
Alley Cat Rescue wants to raise awareness to the true causes of bird population declines and help increase their population numbers. If you are concerned about birds here are some simple tasks you can do:
[i] North American Bird Conservation Institute. (2016). State of North America’s Birds. Retrieved from http://www.stateofthebirds.org/2016/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/SoNAB-ENGLISH-web.pdf
[ii] North American Bird Conservation Institute. (2014). State of North America’s Birds. Retrieved from http://www.stateofthebirds.org/2014/2014%20SotB_FINAL_low-res.pdf
[iii] Bellard, C., Bertelsmeier, C., Leadley, P., Thuiller, W. & Courchamp, F. (2012). Impacts of climate change on the future of biodiversity. Ecology Letters, 15, 365-377.
[iv] Sorte, F.A. (2017). Global change and the distributional dynamics of migratory bird populations wintering in Central America. Global Change Biology, 23(12), 5284-5296.
[v] Gramling, C. (November 3, 2017). Humans are driving climate change. Federal scientists say. Retrieved from https://www.sciencenews.org/article/humans-climate-change-national-assessment-2017
[vi] Loss, S.R. et al. (2014). Bird-building Collisons in the United States: Estimates of Annual Mortality and Species Vulnerability. The Condor, 116(1), 8-23.
[vii] Longcore, T. et al. (2012). An Estimate of Avian Mortality at Communication Towers in the United States and Canada. PLOS One, 7(4).
Yesterday, Anne Arundel city council unanimously passed Bill 96-17 to provide humane guidelines for caring for feral cats. Over 20 people spoke at the December 18th meeting on this bill, largely in support. Alley Cat Rescue provided testimony to the city council explaining the importance of TNR and the state of the current feral cat problem in the area. Thank you to all of our amazing supporters who showed up and spoke in support of feral cats! It is important that local officials hear from their constituents and can make all the difference when the council members go to vote.
This bill will provide guidelines that allow for TNR in the county and help animal control officers and cat caregiver work together.
The bill’s sponsor, Council member John Grasso, explains the importance of the bill: “An established, stable, sterilized, and vaccinated colony of feral cats will deter other stray and feral cats from moving into the area. This decreases the risk that residents will encounter an unvaccinated cat, and will virtually eliminate problem behaviors like fighting, spraying, and yowling. Cats vaccinated against rabies also create a buffer zone between wildlife and the public, which greatly reduces the risk of contracting the disease,” he writes in his Facebook post.
We look forward to more counties adopting humane guidelines such as these. Remember to reach out to your local councilmember and tell them your support TNR!
Alley Cat Rescue is proud to announce our launch of a “Working Cats” program. This program will place cats in local businesses and warehouses to assist with rodent control and office morale. These are cats who would be stressed out in a home or outdoors but could thrive hanging out in a warehouse all day or patrolling around a store.
There are many benefits to having cats in workplaces. For warehouses, cats can provide a non-chemical and easy rodent control solution. Rat complaints are up in cities all around the country as mild winters lead to high populations of rats. Cats are known for hunting rats but even just having a cat around a building can scare rats away. In retail buildings, cats can become customer staples. The bodegas in New York City are famous for housing cats that customers come to visit. Further, no matter what office environment you work in a cat can provide for a cute way to de-stress while at work! Working Cats programs are growing throughout the country. There are currently programs such as ours in New York City, Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Phoenix and other cities.
If you are a business owner who is interested in getting a working cat or know of a business who would like a cat, please contact us at 301-277-5595. Our working cats are spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. Adopters must provide the cats with food, water, shelter and long-term vet care. Adopters should also have a transition plan for putting the cats into the workplace.
Christensen, J. (July 15, 2016). Are cats the ultimate weapon in public health? Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/15/health/cats-chicago-rat-patrol/index.html
Frenden. M. (n.d.). Barn Cat 101: Starting a Barn Cat Program in your Community.
This year Alley Cat Rescue was involved in many on-the-ground rescues. One of these rescues was in south central Los Angeles, where we learned a colony of cats were living. We quickly responded and sent a team out to help these cats. This colony of cats was easy to find as they were hanging out on the sidewalk when our team arrived. It was almost like they were waiting for us to come help them. Most of the cats in this colony were a variation of a beautiful grey and white pattern. It is likely that there was a mother cat with multiple litters of kittens living in the colony together.
This unmanaged colony of cats had started off with just two or three cats a year ago but quickly grew to over 15 cats. Instances such as this are an important reason TNR is so vital. Small colonies of cats can rapidly expand in size if the cats are not sterilized to prevent reproducing.
When we arrived we were greeted by some of the friendlier cats, while the unsocialized ones kept their distance. The adult cats were TNR’d and the kittens were young enough to be adopted out. Unfortunately, a couple of the kittens were in poor health when we found them and were suffering from severe URI infections. We provided the kittens with veterinary care for the URIs and hot compresses, antibiotics and ointments for the eye infections. The kittens recovered amazingly and we have found homes for eight kittens so far. We are still learning how large this colony of cats is and will be continuing our rescue efforts until all the cats are TNR’d. Two cat caregivers have been found who will care for the community cats after the rescue efforts are complete.
Without TNR, the future of these cats could have been bleak. ACR works to promote TNR throughout the United States and internationally. Currently, Los Angeles is re-evaluating their policy on TNR. In the past, the city has supported TNR and has provided vouchers for community cat spay/neuter surgeries, issued trapping permits and provided referrals to community cat groups. The city was forced to halt their support of TNR after a lawsuit by environmental groups succeeded in court. The city has prepared a new project proposal to continue to promote TNR but this proposal is currently under an Environmental Impact Report review. We hope the program will be approved by the city. We have seen firsthand the impact TNR can have for cats in Los Angeles and support from the city will be essential for continued TNR work by cat protection groups and individuals.
In early November we were alerted of the plight of a 4-month old blind kitten at a shelter in San Bernardino who needed help. She was placed at a shelter with a low live release rate and was at risk of euthanasia. At first, multiple people came forward to foster her. The shelter called to inform us that none of the fosters had come to take Ruby by the end of the designated time frame. We rushed down to the shelter to save Ruby before her rescue hold time ran out and she would be euthanized.
We took her to a vet who diagnosed her with malnourishment and cataracts on both eyes. She was unable to get shots because she was half the weight she should have been at that age. She was full of worms, parasites and covered in fleas. Ruby, underweight and very frail, was unable to receive any vaccinations. With constant care and love she slowly gained weight, over 1.3 pounds in just 2 weeks, improving her overall health! Once she was on the road to recovery we scheduled an exam for her eyes and it was confirmed that she is nearly blind.
Feline eye specialists explained she has full cataracts in both eyes, and her vision is limited to light and dark shapes, yet her diagnosis is promising. The cause of the cataracts is due to her malnourishment. Even though Ruby is 95% blind in the left eye and 85% blind in the right eye, with care, treatment and surgery she will be able to see again. Left untreated the cataracts, can come loose and detach leading to glaucoma (painful increased intraocular pressure) and then blindness. We will continue to care for Ruby until she has gained weight and is healthy enough to undergo surgery.
We have rescued many cats with special needs over the years. If a cat will not suffer and can be treated, we believe in providing these special needs cats with a chance at a forever home. Ruby has already improved exponentially and we are optimistic she will find a forever home. Ruby’s surgery and veterinary care will cost over $6,000. Any donations would be appreciated to help us care for this special and loving cat. You can donate here and interested adopters can contact our organization.
Anne Arundel County is currently considering a bill (Bill No. 96-17), introduced by Congressmember John Grasso, that would provide humane guidelines for cat caretakers and animal control officers. This bill defines important terms such as community cat, community cat caregiver and eartipping. It also exempts eartipped cats from impoundment by animal control and allows cat caregivers to pick up community cats that become impounded without having to prove ownership or pay the applicable fees. Community cats will be held for at least five days unless they are “extremely aggressive, seriously injured, or suffering.” Anne Arundel County currently has no ordinances applying to trap-neuter-return. This bill will provide clarity and enable cat caregivers to implement TNR.
The most recent statistics available from Anne Arundel County’s Animal Control website from July-September 2017 indicate that a large amount of time, money and resources are used to handle community cats. Animal control stated that unowned cats compromise 17% of their intake and 70% of their euthanasia, excluding owner requested euthanasia. Research shows that community cats can live long, healthy lives outdoors with proper care. It is unnecessary and wasteful for animal control to use so many resources on euthanizing these cats.
ACR urges Anne Arundel County residents to tell their city council member that they support Bill No. 96-17! This bill may be voted on as soon as 12/18/17. Some talking points to consider:
Anne Arundel County Animal Control. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.aacounty.org/departments/animal-control/forms-and-publications/survey-form-july-sept-2017.pdf
Best Friends Animal Society. “New Research Exposes High Taxpayer Cost for Eradicating Free-Roaming Cats.” Best Friends Animal Society. N.p., 18 Mar. 2010. Web. 12 Aug. 2014.
Edinboro, C, Watson, H, Fairbrother, A. (2016). Association between a shelter-neuter-return program and cat health at a large municipal animal shelter. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 248(3), 298-308.
Fairfax County Police Department. (January 19, 2012). Trap, Neuter, Return Program Decreases Homeless Feral Cat Population. Retrieved from https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/news-releases/2012/011912trapneuterreturn.htm
Ireland, T. & Neilan, R.M. (2016). A spatial agent-based model of feral cats and analysis of population and nuisance controls. Ecological Modelling, 337, 123-136.
Letters: Animals’ welfare improving in Indy. (October 12, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.indystar.com/story/opinion/readers/2017/10/12/letters-animals-welfare-improving-indy/757506001/
Stoskopf, M. K. & Nutter, F. B. (2004). Analyzing approaches to feral cat management — one size does not fit all. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 225, 1361–1364.
Alley Cat Rescue is searching for a home for a rescued kitten in Los Angeles for the holidays. ACR rescued ten kittens from an outdoor colony altogether. Now all of Jack’s brothers and sisters have found a home and he is still searching for a family.
ACR was alerted to a large colony of cats living in south central Los Angeles. A team was quickly sent out to help these cats. This cat colony was easy to find as they were hanging out on the sidewalk of a very busy street when the team arrived. It was almost like they were waiting for help to come. Most of the cats were a variation of a beautiful grey and white pattern. It is likely that there was a mother cat with multiple litters of kittens living in the colony together. This unmanaged colony of cats had started off with just two or three cats a year ago but quickly grew to over 15 cats. The adult cats were TNR’d and the kittens were young enough to be adopted out. ACR is still learning how large this colony of cats is and will be continuing rescue efforts until all the cats are TNR’d.
Since the rescue efforts, ACR found adopters for all of the kittens except one. Somehow Jack has been overlooked, which is surprising considering his loving personality and beautiful coat. This 7-month old boy loves to chase his toy mouse, hang out with the foster family and roll over and show his belly. After a long day, Jack is ready to jump into bed and cuddle with his foster mom. His foster mom describes him as a “super sweet, chill kitty with the softest coat.” If you’d like to provide this boy a home, contact Alley Cat Rescue through our online inquiry form.
Mt. Rainier, MD— Alley Cat Rescue traveled down to Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey hit the area to help with rescue efforts. Shelters in the area were in desperate need of help and ACR was there to assist. ACR rescued 40 cats that were in local shelters to free up space for cats displaced by the hurricane, donated supplies to the shelters and sorted through mountains of donated supplies. ACR was also involved in on-the-ground rescues. A team paddle-boarded through the devastation to rescue people and pets left behind. Although this situation was tragic, the team met many inspirational people and animals.
In total, 17 cats were brought back to ACR headquarters in Brentwood, Maryland while others were brought to the Los Angeles office. The cats were named after towns in Texas such as Austin, Amarillo and Idalou. The work didn’t end when the team returned to Maryland though. Some of the cats needed extra care, such as Amarillo, who staff members nursed back to health. He went from a weak kitten to an outgoing and rambunctious personality.
Since then, all but one Harvey cat have been adopted. Autumn is still looking for a home and would love to be adopted in time for the holidays! Autumn is ACR’s energetic and adventurous tortie girl. She loves to play but will come up for pets and cuddles when she is tired and wants some love. She loves to climb on ACR’s newly installed cat bridge and show off her skills. If you are interested in adopting Autumn fill out on online inquiry form.
About Alley Cat Rescue: ACR is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the welfare of all cats: domestic, stray, abandoned, and feral. ACR advocates for humane nonlethal control of feral cats. ACR has been awarded the Independent Charities of Americas “Best in America” Seal of Approval, and our newsletter has won several awards from the Cat Writers’ Association. For more information, please visit our website www.saveacat.org. ###