I do not usually make personal comments on news stories, but this is just too upsetting. If you do not agree with me then consider this an editorial!
Last September, Debbie Manzione was on her way home from the mall in Chesapeak, Virginia when a cat ran out in front of her in the parking lot. An avid cat lover, she grabbed some cat food she just bought and followed the cat to the shrubs where she found several cats hiding in the bushes.
She set out the food.
Manzione said she returned other times to feed them.
About two weeks ago she captured two of the strays, had them neutered and paid for their shots. The pair are now in what she calls “foster care” to determine if they can be domesticated or sent to a farm. Previously she’s taken away seven cats, including a female who later gave birth to four kittens.
Last week when she came home from work she found a policemen and animal control officer waiting for her.
Manzione was given a court summons, ordering her to appear in front of a judge on a charge that she was illegally harboring a stray animal for more than 14 days. She said she also was told to stop feeding the cats outside the mall.
“I’m at a loss. … All I want to do is help these animals,” she said. “I don’t care what happens to me. … It’s about trying to allow us to get these cats a safe place to live.”
Chesapeake Police puppet spokeswoman Kelly O’Sullivan offered few details but indicated the police citation was a long time coming. Animal control is part of the police department department.
“It’s been going on for over a year. After some warnings, they decided to cite her,” said O’Sullivan.
Manzione, who has been active in local cat rescue groups, doesn’t see it that way. She said she has never been told to stop feeding the animals.
“I wasn’t the problem. I was trying to be part of the solution,” she said.
The problem is an infestation of cats outside Chesapeake Square Mall, particularly near the loading dock for the JCPenney store.
When the mall’s management company called the city’s Animal Services Unit, an officer set up live-capture traps baited with food but were frustrated because other people were feeding the cats, Walston said.
This is the real crux of the issue. A government couch potato has their hackels up because people who actually care about the cats are preventing them from trapping the cats and then killing them.
This past Monday afternoon. A city animal control officer, with the help of mall employees, was placing a cat trap nearby. I guess they figure this bleeding heart woman has been “taken care of” so they can go back to business as usual. God I wish I lived in Virginia.
A spokeswoman for Simon Property Group, the mall’s owner, said the mall didn’t report Manzione to police.
Manzione said police had the license plate for one of her vehicles when they arrived at her house.
“I always park in a very visible spot” at the mall, she said. “I guess my car was the most visible because I usually go in the evening.”
She also noted that on the evening she retrieved two cats, a Chesapeake police officer who was patrolling nearby assisted her and a friend in capturing the animals. The officer didn’t ask for their names, she said.
Manzione said she reported taking the two cats to “two agencies” but did not specify the name of agencies.
Many cat rescuers don’t want to rely on the city’s animal control unit to remove the animals, she said, because the city’s animal facility kills most of the cats that come through its doors. State records show that of the 1,888 cats taken to the city pound last year, 1,155 were euthanized. Thats almost as bad as PETA’s kill rate at their shelter in Virginia.
Shawne Owen, who operates the nonprofit Cat Rescue Inc. and is aware of Manzione’s efforts, said his organization has a “contentious relationship” with city because of the kill rate.
Caring, educated pet owners and activists should contact the Chesapeake Police department and educate them on how the rest of the country is handling feral and stray cats and why TNR makes more sense than killing them.