Gulf Breeze Planning to Trap and Kill Three-Dozen Cats Left Homeless by Hurricane Ivan
"These cats on the bridge do not pose any documented health or safety risks to the public. Free roaming cats are timid."
-- Greg Farrar of Jury-Duty
The cat-haters who run Gulf Breeze, Florida recently announced plans to have Escambia County Animal Control trap and exterminate the approximately three-dozen cats that live in Wayside Park. (See photos above and below.) A good portion of them have lived in the park ever since they were abandoned by their owners during Hurricane Ivan back in 2004.
So far, the only concession that the city has made to advocates for the cats is to give them until July 1st in order to trap and relocate their charges somewhere else. Although there is still some sand left in the hourglass, it is not clear that their supporters have the resources at hand in order to save the cats.
In keeping with the standard modus operandi of cat killers everywhere, Gulf Breeze has embarked upon a malicious defamation campaign against the felines. Without a scintilla of evidence in support of their slanders, officials are claiming that the cats are vicious, a health threat, and that they are stinking up the park.
"Parents are saying they are afraid to bring their kids to the park," Ron Pulley, director of parks and recreation, told the Pensacola News Journal on May 29th. (See "Feral Cats Face Death Penalty.") "They don't know if the cats are aggressive and they are afraid of what will happen if a child tries to pet one."
As anyone with half a brain knows, the notion that cats, feral or domestic, will without provocation attack humans is absurd. Au contraire, they are too frightened of them to even go near them. The only times that they become physical is when they are either abused or cornered.
"I don't see how someone could be complaining about them," Rusty Foley of Georgiana, Alabama, who frequently drives down in order to fish off of the nearby Pensacola Bay Bridge, told the Pensacola News Journal. "You hardly see them. They stay away from you."
Foley's assessment of the cats is backed up by Pensacola attorney Greg Farrar who co-directs the charity Jury-Duty and also is the regional representative of Spay USA and Spay Florida. "These cats on the bridge do not pose any documented health or safety risks to the public," he told the Gulf Breeze News on May 31st. (See "City Says 'No Feral Cats at Wayside Park'.") "Free roaming cats are timid."
Even Pulley's allegation that the cats are stinking up the park is rejected by Sonya Ferguson who has been feeding them for more than three years. "It's people coming down here making things dirty, not the cats," she told the Pensacola News Journal in the article cited supra. "There is more trash down here than cats, and the cats sure aren't putting it there."
The often repeated charge that feral cats are unhealthy and carry diseases has also been refuted by many veterinarians who have studied them. In fact, many feral cats are indeed healthier and have fewer diseases than their domestic cousins. Not being fed contaminated store-bought canned food also works in their favor.
Besides ailurophobia, Ferguson suspects an ulterior motive behind Gulf Breeze's campaign to get rid of the cats: gentrification. "I think now that they are getting the park all fixed up they want it to look a certain way," she said.
Both Ferguson and Farrar are still lobbying for the establishment of a sterilized colony in the park but Pulley is dead set against the idea. "Even if they were spayed or neutered we'd want them relocated," he told the Gulf Breeze News.
Ferguson summed up the dire straits that the cats are in when she told the Pensacola News Journal, "These babies need a miracle and I pray they get one."
Photos: Franklin Hayes of the Gulf Breeze News.