Thursday, December 21, 2006


Again, I'll explain I'm no fan of Newkirk, but there are some things she's right about.
What About the Cats?
In theory, the sterilization of feral cat populations could be acceptable under the right circumstances. But finding the right circumstances can be problematic. Ingrid Newkirk, national director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), says this method is acceptable as long as the cats are 1) isolated from roads, people, and other animals who could harm them; 2) constantly attended to by people who not only feed them but care for their medical needs; and 3) lodged in an area where the weather is constantly temperate. As Newkirk says, "I don't think this kind of place exists in America."

Newkirk worked in animal control for 16 years. In that time, she saw a lot of feral cats. "The ones I picked up always had something wrong with them--they just can't get along in a concrete society." Newkirk is not an advocate of the neuter-and-release method. She believes, as does The HSUS, that euthanasia, although unpopular, is the best solution to the problem.

"The usual responsibility we have for pet cats is suspended when it comes to ferals. It's not responsible to leave a child on the railroad tracks and walk away. It's not responsible to essentially do the same thing to cats by re-releasing them to the streets, even if they're neutered. You have to play God whether you neuter and release or euthanize. It's a matter of responsibility."

Newkirk believes that part of the reason why those who neuter and release are so vehement that their methods are preferable is because they don't see what eventually happens to their charges. The feeders see the cats at feeding time. If one or more doesn't show up, they may miss the animal, but they don't see what has happened to him or her. "They are operating in a bit of a vacuum," she says. "The caretakers don't realize that if the cats aren't there, something bad happened to them. They're not on holiday in the Bahamas."

Because animal control officers often do see what happens to these cats, they know what their fates are. The animal control officer [ACO] picks up the cats after they've been hit by cars, ingested poison, succumbed to illness, or suffered a terrible injury. Newkirk advises ACOs not to "ignore the many experiences they've had--the many bad endings that these animals meet." She wants to encourage those in shelters who must deal with this problem: "You are doing the right thing. And a lot of people think you are. I wouldn't have believed that life for cats is as hard as it is if I hadn't seen it for myself. Life is more than food."Add to Technorati Favorites

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