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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Caring Restaurant Worker Rescues Ghost Town's Cats from the Wrecking Ball and Finds Them a New Home

The Pollardville Ghost Town, a popular tourist attraction in Stockton, California for fifty years, bit the dust on April 1st. The Chicken Kitchen has remained open for take-out orders but it, too, will be closing on June 24th.

Shortly thereafter the town will be demolished by developers who plan to build a shopping center and a gated community on the sixteen-acre tract of land.

Over the years a large colony of otherwise homeless cats have come to call the ghost town home. Despite being longtime residents, neither the developer nor the town's proprietors, Neil and Tracy Pollard, made any arrangements for their future.

Into the breach has stepped Lisa Bertroch (See photo above) who has not only trapped most of the cats (See photo above) but also found them a new home at a sanctuary run by the Agee Memorial Wildlife Fund, eighty-three kilometers away in El Dorado Hills.

So far, she has managed to trap and relocate sixty-six of the cats but three or four holdouts continue to roam the deserted streets of the condemned wild west town. If they are not rescued before the bulldozers move in they could be killed when the buildings come tumbling down. (See Cat Defender posts of June 9, 2005 and March 31, 2006 entitled, respectively, "War on Terrorism Costs Cats Their Home -- and Maybe Their Lives Also" and "Idaho Humane Society Lends Its Support to the Demolition of a Derelict Seed Store That Claims the Lives of Dozens of Cats.")

Those cats relocated to the El Dorado Hills facility are being sterilized, vaccinated, and treated for any illnesses that they may have contracted while living on the street. Those deemed suitable for adoption will be offered up the public while the remainder will be allowed to live out their lives at the sanctuary.

Agee Rescue was established in October of 1999 by Cindy and Ed Minghelli in order to provide a home for cats and dogs that otherwise would be exterminated by either Animal Control or shelters. The facility is named in honor of Cindy's parents, Richard and Betty Agee, who spent a good portion of their lives rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife. (See photo above of Cindy on the left flanked by Tracy Pollard, Lisa Bertroch, and a man identified only as Benito.)

Asked by The Record of Stockton on June 8th why she came forward to save the cats especially in light of the Pollards' dereliction of duty, Bertroch answered simply, "I just felt bad." (See "Woman Rescues Feral Felines.")

The ghost town is comprised largely of a collection of odds and ends that the Pollards purchased over the years. For instance, there is the entire set used to film the 1957 movie, The Big Country. There is also a small post office acquired from Mountain Ranch, California and an 1897 jail that was transplanted from the gold rush town of Jamestown in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

The town additionally boasts a small railroad and a stagecoach line and there used to be make-believe gun fights as well. (See photo above.) The jail and the post office are being returned to their original owners so they will live to see another day. Everything else has been put up for sale.

Main Street is now deserted of both humans and cats and soon the entire town will be only a memory. (See photo below.) It is a shame all the way around. This country needs its ghost towns far more than it needs additional shopping malls and apartment blocks.

The truly important thing, however, is that thanks to the herculean efforts of Bertroch and the liberality of the Minghellis the cats are going to be able to go on living. That is a refreshing development in that most stories concerning feral cats do not have happy endings.

Furthermore, the sanctuary most likely will be a far safer and healthier place for them than living beside a busy highway. Of course, they will have to adjust to doing without their daily ration of fried chicken.

That is not necessarily going to be an altogether bad thing considering not only all the poisons that poultry producers pump into their birds but also the large amounts of sodium and trans fats that restaurateurs ladle on to the already toxic mix.

Photos: Craig Sanders of The Stockton Record (Bertroch, caged cat, and gunfighter), Agee Rescue (Mingheilli, Pollard, Bertroch, and Benito), and Pollardville.com (Main Street.)