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On Property Rights and Project Treadstone

I'm not usually one to write on property rights, but I was slapped in the face with the concept last night . . .

After having returned from the vet with Charles and his torn quad (and there are few things more heartbreaking than a dog who loves to sprint when he wants to not being able to even walk), I received a blizzard of messages and phone calls from the Project Treadstone site. The mascot of sorts, who has been dubbed "Scroungy" and who is a very tough looking, scruffed up black kitty (with a tipped ear) but who apparently is the sweetest of the bunch, was hit by a car.

I was told he probably had two broken legs. Last night was supposed to be the coldest night on record, dipping into the twenties.

As if that weren't bad enough, someone called Animal Care and Control and officially complained about the cats and ACC was on its way to round up the cats and kill them.

Scroungy was under the car of someone who doesn't particularly care about the cats and it was 6:30 and that person wanted to go home but was begged by others not to move the car. This was after 90 minutes of trying to catch him. At least they knew where he was.

I called our trapper and asked him to go to the site, and though he was 40 minutes away, he said he would. The women at the site found a vet to euthanize Scroungy, free of charge, if he was indeed terribly injured. But there was the matter of ACC, who had just shown up with instructions. I asked to speak to the ACC woman, and let me just say that I've never been so diplomatic in my entire life.

I explained that this was a managed colony with buy-in from the board and that it would be a public relations nightmare to kill the cats when a perfectly good initiative is being implemented. She agreed to take Scroungy only and for some reason thought she could catch a savvy feral cat who is black, and quick despite his injuries, at night, in a dark parking lot, without a trap.

She couldn't. But when our trapper arrived, he was able to.

We all wanted to save him and developed this elaborate plan where he would have his surgery then recuperate at someone's house. We would all pay for whatever was needed. It was a flawed plan, to say the least, but the ACC woman agreed to help.

Then came the question of who would decide where to draw the line of treatment and euthanasia. Scroungy's "owner" had to step forward. Everyone pointed in my direction (by telephone), but though I organized the effort, there is a woman at the site who manages it whom I'd consider the "owner."

The reality that owning of another life is absurd and just plain wrong reared its head. It was so strange to be asked if I was the "owner" of this creature who has his own life and home and whose fate shouldn't be determined by me. I am so accustomed to "owning" Charles and Violet and Emily (though clearly I am their "staff"), but for some reason Scroungy was different, though he really isn't.

Before any ownership decision was made, I received a call from the ACC woman saying Scroungy had a microchip and that they called his "owner," who is a cat rescuer and gave permission to euthanize him. The owner is 20 miles from the scene and spends every waking hour doing TNR work and socializing and finding homes for homeless kitties.

Two lessons learned/action steps:

  1. Find a way to register the colony with whomever it's supposed to be registered with so ACC doesn't go there intending to round up cats. Done. There isn't a formal registration process, but I did speak with the someone and I'm going there today to file some papers, which I hear is a joke but I'm doing it anyway just to officially have done it. I also called the women (of course–women) who head the local groups to record what occurred and list the address of the site and number of cats, which they did.
  2. Negotiate a deal with the vet and the people coming with the spay RV that includes microchipping. Not every group microchips as it eats up resources that could be spent on sterilization, but I think I'm now convinced that it's necessary. I don't think I'd be the owner, which frankly is fine with me. For all I know, the group I'm accidentally working (that doesn't microchip) with has a policy for ownership.

Feral cats, once trapped or caught by ACC, don't have a chance of survival if they don't have an "owner." The prospect of owning 40 wild creatures is not one that sits well with me. It seems so wrong. But if it saves even one of their lives, it's worth it, and I'm willing to do it if I must.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wow… what an awful night you had. So sorry about Scroungy. 🙁 About the microchipping – It seems like this is something that can be done by just about anyone. There are places on line that sell starter kits, supplies and so on. Is this an (affordable) option rather than having a vet do it? And just curious – how many more cats are left to TNR?

    February 5, 2009
  2. Finding out today about the cost for microchipping. Then I'll proceed from there. We have been "bumped" for two weeks at the vet (ferals from elsewhere took our places) but next week we're back on. Also, I've been raising the funds for the RV and trying to push that process along faster. I thought it would be all done by now. Silly me.

    Frankly I don't know how many cats are left but my guess is 25. The upside is that with all the hubub last night I acquired a handful of volunteers for the day(s) the RV comes down. And they're people who've done this before and have a system, which is a relief. My system of trial and error tends to serve me well in life, but when it comes to living beings I wouldn't want to use it as my primary strategy.

    February 5, 2009
  3. I second Bea–what an awful night. I'm so glad you were there (and able) to reason with the woman from ACC though. Sounds like you handled it very well.

    A couple lines here remind me of a post-in-progress that's been sitting in my drafts folder for a few days about the discomfort, anger, and sadness I feel at having such control over Mabel's fate, over the fate of a dog whom people have repeatedly reminded me I have "chosen" to keep (i.e., keep alive). Incredible.

    February 5, 2009
  4. Dan #

    Mary – I greatly admire your excellent work with PT.

    February 5, 2009
  5. Thanks, Dan. At least now I know what to do in the future and/or can help people or direct them to resources for their own efforts. And of course . . . helping the colony and decreasing the enormous population of feral cats is a good thing.

    February 5, 2009
  6. You're doing a wonderful thing Mary – and we all admire & thank you for such 🙂

    February 6, 2009

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