Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Help Me Howard: Cat Trapper
Your neighbor has a cat that roams around. Can you put a trap out, catch the cat and take it to the pound where it will probably be put to sleep? The answer upset one South Florida woman, so she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When people move to South Florida, they find things that make them happy: the beach, the bars and helping starving cats.
Margo Severini: "I've been doing animal rescue for five years since I've been down here. South Florida needs a lot of help."
Margo says she helps in the right way: capturing the stray cats in her neighborhood, sterilizing them and then releasing them. One rescued cat...
Margo Severini: "Little Man was a cat who came into this neighborhood starving. We ended up feeding him."
But it turns out, someone else in the neighborhood is feeding the cats as well: for a different reason.
Margo Severini: "They were baiting the traps with meats, fresh chicken and beef."
A neighbor said the cats were using his backyard as a bathroom and he was tired of it.
Margo Severini: "He said he didn't want the cats in the backyard. By putting beef and chicken in traps, you're going to entice everyone in the neighborhood to go in your backyard."
And of course, guess who decided to check out the scent of raw meat: yep, Little Man.
Margo Severini: "He has never, in the seven or eight months we've had him, he has never, ever left the yard, until they started putting out meat."
After the neighbor traps the cats, he takes them to the Pompano Beach Animal Shelter, where most feral cats are put to sleep.
Beth Daly: "I went online and saw him."
One of Margo's neighbors found Little Man on the Broward Animal Shelter's website.
Beth Daly: "I've been broken-hearted. I haven't slept."
The neighbors complained about the cat trap to the city of Pompano Beach and were basically told, basically, outdoor cats are not allowed in the city.
Beth Daly, neighbor: "And I guess it's like a leash law, where cats can't free-roam. Apparently, you are not allowed to have your cat outside in Pompano Beach without a leash, which is really ridiculous."
Well, Howard, if you don't like cats in your neighborhood, can you put out a trap in your yard?
Howard Finkelstein: "It is legal to trap cats on your property, not only in Pompano Beach but in many places in South Florida. But each city or county has their own set of rules. So before you put out a trap, check those rules, because there are many restrictions on trapping the animals."
When we talked to the neighbor, he told us, the city of Pompano Beach loaned the traps to him after he complained. He added, he is not a cat killer and follows the law.
Fortunately for Little Man, Beth and Margo made it to the shelter before he was put to sleep.
Beth Daly: "He seems to be doing well. He's scared."
Little Man survived this trip to the shelter. Most cats won't, because in Pompano Beach, the law is against them.
Howard Finkelstein: "Just as you have a right to own a cat, your neighbor has a right to stop your cat from coming on their property. The best solution if you have a cat that goes outside: put a collar and a tag on them, so you can be notified if someone captures them."
Margo and Beth are now trying to change the law in Pompano to allow free-roaming cats outside. In the meantime, they have come up with another solution: make the cats in the neighborhood afraid of traps.
Margo Severini: "Since he doesn't want to work with us, we're trapping. We have our own traps. We're trapping our own cats in our backyards, so when they go in, they're going to come out, and they'll never go into a trap again."
Patrick Fraser: "That is a pretty interesting solution. But unfortunately, we won't know if it will stop Little Man from going in a trap. After they brought him home, he died. He was an older cat. The stress of being trapped and taken to the shelter probably killed him. The battle between people who want to spay and save strays versus those who want to exterminate them goes on."
Strayed into a situation that has you trapped? Ready to be set free? Contact us. We may not come up with a purr-fect solution, but we will do our best to rescue you.