2007-10-10 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Poster Pets                Poster Pets "If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."- St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226)

Thus, it is only fitting that October 4th, the traditional feast day for this patron saint of all animals, celebrated with blessings of beloved pets, closely precedes a newer recognition date- October16th- National Feral Cat Daya date that spotlights less fortunate felines. Divine intervention alone is not enough for the over 70 million feral cats in the US.

National Feral Cat Day was founded in 2001 by Alley Cat Allies based near Washington DC to honor feral cat caregivers, educate all about non-lethal cat population control, and to recruit more individuals and groups to endorse TNR (Trap Neuter Release). October 16th was chosen because it is the anniversary of the incorporation of Alley Cat Allies. A feral cat is different from a stray cat. A stray cat is a pet cat who is lost or abandoned. A feral is the offspring of stray or of other unsterilized ferals.

Matisse, Chow mix, in top photo. Above, Dali. Matisse, Chow mix, in top photo. Above, Dali. The message this year is a bit edgier because Alley Cat Allies thinks it is time to stir people up, to help public officials discover the facts about cats, and to begin to change municipal animal control policies. Basically Alley Cat Allies is saying that ferals do not belong in shelters since these creatures are so stressed in confinement, plus they are unadoptable. Shelters (including private rescues) cannot find homes for them because they are unsocialized, and most ferals above 8 weeks old have already passed the narrow taming window of opportunity. Instead- TNR works; TNR also saves tax dollars. It costs less to spay a feral cat than it does to have animal control euthanize her.

For this year's campaign Alley Cat Allies has prepared several public service flyers dubbed "Truth Cards", and pre-printed letters to mail to elected officials asking for funding for TNR. I've received feedback that these letters have generated some interest on the state and local level. Keep in mind, if you do read these "Truth Cards", since they address feral policies across the whole country, their animal control flyer seems harsher than current policies and statistics on Long Island.

• In conjunction with National Feral Cat Day, Last Hope www.lasthopeanimalrescue. org" www.lasthopeanimalrescue. org.( the Alley Cat Allies "Truth Cards" are links there too) is scheduling 2 events: 1)March for the Ferals- Sun. Oct. 21 from 10:30 to 2 to raise money for Last Hope's "Fix-A-Feral" program. Since 2003 over 4,000 cats have been spayed or neutered via this discounted certificate program. The Walk begins at the Last Hope Cat Adoption Center, 581 W. Jericho Tpke. Huntington and ends at the Walt Whitman Birthplace. For sponsor sheets, stop by the Cat Center, PetsMart Huntington, PETCO Syosset or call 516-486- 3158 or 631-205-5069.

2) Free Feral Spay/Neuter Day sponsored by Last Hope, funded by Pet Peeves- Sun. Oct. 28 at Basic Pet Care, 642 Rt. 109, Lindenhurst. Limited space, so appointments are required, call 516-334-6069 or 631- 205-5069. Reservations are filling up quickly. Drop off between 9-10 AM; pick up between 2 -3 PM. Yes, it is really FREE. Cats must be feral and in humane traps; (special circumstance cats in carriers). Limit of 5 cats per person.

During the first spayathon at Basic Pet Care in March with the help of 7 vets and many vet techs and volunteers, we were able to sterilize, inoculate, worm, deflea, and ear tip over 80 cats in one day. (See Beacon "Pets" column archived link- 3/22/ 07 for more details). Hopefully October 28th will be as successful.

3) Finally to help support the March and the Spay Day, Last Hope has designed the stylish "I Helped Last Hope Animal Rescue Fix-A-Feral" t-shirts, available for a donation of $30, the cost to the organization to alter 1 cat. Mine came in the mail yesterday. It makes the ultimate "Cat Lady" fashion statement.

This week two "artsy" fellows are the poster pets at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon. "Dali" #18689 is a handsome longhaired tuxedo kitten sporting a goatee. He's a perfect example of that critical period to socialize cats. This scared baby, about 6 weeks old, needed more handling than his brother before he trusted humans. "Matisse, a black & tan Chow mix waiting in Cage 13 since May, is one of the longest residents at the shelter. He did well on a temperament test. See more photos on the shelter's Petfinder list.

•Male: a Jack Russell in the Puppy Room; "Buster" - 3 yr. chocolate Lab mix in Cage 21; black Lab mix Cage 47; Hound mix Cage 9.

•Female: "Santana"- 4 yr. Shep/Lab Cage 59; skinny Shepherd mix Cage 57; very sweet older Dobie mix Cage 63; long time favorite felines: "Jewel"- dilute calico & "Faith" her tabby sister C-9.

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