Public Outcry Forces Army Navy Country Club to Scrap Plans to Evict and Exterminate Long-Term Resident Felines
The posh Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Virginia, whose ranks include past and present military and political elites, has been forced to abandon plans to evict and exterminate several dozen cats who, along with their ancestors, have resided on its spacious grounds for more than forty years. Relying upon trumped up charges from ailurophobes that the felines are diseased and vicious, the club angered cat lovers and some of its own members when it announced in December that the cats had to go.
Foremost amongst the cats' defenders was Democratic Congressman John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania who has been a member of the club for more than twenty years. This is the same congressman who late last year enraged Bush and his gang of war criminals, thieves, and inveterate liars by calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Speaking of the plan to remove the cats he told the Washington Post in its Christmas Eve edition, "That's just terrible. It doesn't meet the common-sense test." (See "Army Navy Club Going to War on Cats.") In the past Murtha has drafted legislation to limit the use of cats in military experiments and, more recently, to allow a wounded female soldier to adopt a dog that she had worked with in Iraq.
Over the years the club has even paid for the sterilization and vaccination of the cats (twenty-one so far) while caregivers such as Dottie Evans, wife of retired Rear Admiral Tom Evans, have fed and watered them. (See photo above of her.) On the average, volunteers distribute four-hundred cans of wet food and three eighteen-pound bags of kibble each month.
Luckily for the cats, a compromise has been reached between the club and their supporters which will spare their lives. The agreement does, however, call for Alley Cat Allies to trap the cats and to relocate them to a more remote location on the club's grounds. The club has also agreed to contribute $1,500 toward the relocation and ongoing desexing and vaccination efforts.
It is difficult to tell if this agreement constitutes a permanent solution to the standoff or is merely a temporary reprieve for the cats. First of all, cats are territorial by nature and have a tendency to return to their old haunts.
Becky Robinson of Alley Cat Allies is quoted in the January 7th edition of the Washington Post as saying that her group will teach the cats' caregivers methods which will keep them at their new location. (See "Stray Cats at Army Navy Club Win Reprieve, New Quarters.") She does not, however, elaborate on what these methods might be or their efficacy.
Nothing that Alley Cat Allies says or does can be taken at face value. A few years back, Cat Defender had a go at them concerning Atlantic City's famous Boardwalk cats and it took several months of correspondence before the group grudgingly admitted that it returned only forty per cent of the cats that it trapped at the Boardwalk.
Although when pressed on the matter Alley Cat Allies refused to come clean, it is pretty much a foregone conclusion that the remaining sixty per cent were turned over to shelters and exterminated. Furthermore, the group's volunteers do not do a good job of caring for the Boardwalk cats.
They only feed them cheap dry food and water -- no meat or milk -- and the cats' feeding stations and winterized shelters are often unkempt. Hopefully, the existing caregivers in Arlington will continue to be responsible for the cats' diet and shelter.
It is not surprising that the Army Navy Country Club attempted to do in its resident felines when one considers that the military's treatment of cats and other animals over the centuries has been atrocious. Not only are animals used as offensive ploys in war but they are additionally subjected to hideous experiments, such as being blown apart by bullets and having atomic bombs dropped on their heads. (See Shawn Plourde, "What Did You Do in the War Fido?")
Needless to say, military commanders do not care how many innocent animals they indiscriminately kill in wartime. According to Lancet, the Bush Gang has slaughtered 120,000 civilians in Iraq but does anyone know -- or care -- how many animals they have massacred?
More recently in 2002, the U.S. Navy implemented a ban on the feeding of homeless cats and dogs and outlawed TNR on all of its bases, both domestic and international. These disastrous policies have led sailors to poison cats with antifreeze and to suffocate them inside black trash bags at the U.S. Naval Base in Rota, Spain, and presumably elsewhere as well. (See photo above.)
Letters of protest against this barbarism sent by Cat Defender to Senators Ted Kennedy and Richard Lugar as well as to the Spanish government went unanswered. None of them care one whit about cats. They only things they care about are their payoffs and egos.(See European edition of the Stars and Stripes, April 28, 2004, "Navy Policy Has Compounded Problem of Stray Cats at Rota, Some Say.")
Photos: James A. Parcell of the Washington Post (Dottie Evans and cats) and U.S. Navy (Rota base).