Trapping and killing: that’s what Richard King, the executive of the Invercargill City Council in southern New Zealand, told residents concerned about domesticated neighborhood cats to do back in March. A woman in Invercargill had 37 cats who, according to neighbors, were said to “swarm” in the streets.
King’s answer to their concerns? Residents could pick up traps from the City Council and provided they returned them with no cat inside (because the animal had been killed), use them.
Outraged, Care2 member Paula Jones started a petition telling King that the City Council’s plan was a wrong-headed idea and must be dropped.
Care2 Member Starts a Campaign to Save Invercargill’s Cats
Under Invercargill’s “keeping animals bylaw,” people are allowed to have no more than three cats on their property. When the City Council attempted to enforce this on the woman with 37 cats, it “faced resistance” and found itself having to go to court to get rid of all but three of her cats. It was then that King told residents they were “welcome to pick up traps from the city council to catch and then dispose of the felines.”
As she also pointed out:
This is an exceptionally irresponsible statement to promote. We are going to have crazy cat haters killing cats at will; they will be tortured, injured and left to die painful deaths. Everybody’s cat/bestfriend/companion animal will effectively be fair game to the sick members of society. The perpetrators will never be punished.
More than 19,000 Care2 members signed Paula’s petition. Dozens of Care2 members also sent emails to the Invercargill City Council to express their shock and disgust and hundreds took to social media to criticize King’s “inflammatory comments” which, as one person said, “would be the most stupidest statement to come out of the mouth of someone in his position.” SPCA Southland said their phone was ringing “nonstop with people wanting to know how to help the woman.”
The issue had attracted so much attention that Paula found herself doing interviews for newspapers, radio and television.
Paula’s advocacy and that of so many Care2 members paid off. One day after the petition signatures were delivered, King and the City Council not only retracted their initial statement but also made an apology. King himself admitted that he had made an “error of judgment.”
Noting that the City Council had not had a petition “of that size come into council before,” Invercargill Mayor Shadbolt said that King’s comments about disposing of cats were “inappropriate.” He described his own distress when his family’s cat, Monty, went missing for days.
It took a lot of work by Paula and Care2 members for King to retract his statement about trapping and killing cats. While certainly pleased about King’s apology, she also comments that it was “probably damage control and not a genuine ‘I didn’t mean it.’”
Not everyone, and certainly not everyone in positions of power, understands why animals (domesticated and feral cats as well as many others) must be treated with humanity. Start your own Care2 petition to let people know why we need to do this. Care2 member Maureen Gibbons started a petition to ban the trapping and killing of stray cats in Ireland. Paula’s successful campaign shows how, when we all take action, we can save many, many lives.
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