Politicians and a Condominium Developer Share the Blame for the Abandonment of at Least Fifteen Domestic Cats in Bonita Springs
"They were people's cats and they just left them...What was the plan when the food ran out?"
-- David Fine
While the care and welfare of a cat is primarily the responsibility of its guardian, the patently immoral and quite often illegal policies pursued by predatory capitalists and crooked politicians are sans doute contributing to the escalating problem of feline abandonment. A good case in point occurred last month in Bonita Springs, Florida, where local politicians conspired with developer Eagle Bay in order to get rid of the three-hundred or so poor Hispanic residents of Glade Haven RV and Trailer Park.
Under the threat of arrest if they did not clear out by June 15th, the residents hurriedly assembled their meager belongings and complied but they cruelly left behind at least fifteen cats to fend for themselves. Not totally bereft of all conscience, they did leave out tins of wet food and dispensers of kibble for their erstwhile mousers and loyal companions. Although press reports are not exactly clear on the matter, apparently a few dogs, pigs, and chickens also were abandoned.
The food gave out within a few days and the cats soon were forced into scaveging for their next meal and to slaking their thirst by licking up rain water. (See photos above and below.)
"They were people's cats and they just left them," Glade Haven maintenance man David Fine groused to the Naples Daily News on June 29th. (See "Cats Gone Wild in Vacant Bonita Trailer Parks (sic).") "What was the plan when the food ran out?"
Consequently, the care of the abandoned cats has fallen by default to Fine and Annika Matos of nearby Morton Grove who have been feeding, watering, and procuring veterinary care for them. Concerned citizens also are chipping in by donating food and dollars.
Par exemple, last week an anonymous donor dropped off seventy-five pounds of kibble and one-hundred-ninety-two tins of food. "The response was overwhelming," Fine told the Naples Daily News on July 1st. (See "Community Steps Up to Support Abandoned Cats in Bonita Trailer Park.") "I almost fell over. I couldn't believe it."
Meanwhile, Matos is using the money that she has received in order to get some of the cats sterilized and to find homes for all of them. "We need homes for them," she told the Naples Daily News in the July 1st article cited supra.
Malheureusement, time is not on either hers or the cats' side in that Fine expects to have the leftover debris and trash on the twenty-acre tract cleaned up in about two weeks and at that time the trailers will be removed and the land cleared. This is in spite of the fact that Eagle Bay is not expected to build on the site until 2017.
Nevertheless, if homes are not found soon for these domesticated cats there is a strong possibility that they will be trapped and killed by Animal Control. Matos, for her part, has contacted eight or nine shelters and rescue groups in the area about taking in the cats without an iota of success.
In fact, shelter space and funds are in such short supply that Collier County to the south is considering abolishing all adoption services and instead murdering the cats that have the misfortune to pass through its portals. As a result, whether the cats continue to go on living depends upon the good will of Fine and Matos as well as the generosity and compassion of the general public. (See photo below of him feeding the cats.)
The situation at Glade Haven is the second large-scale abandonment of domestic cats to have occurred in Bonita Springs in less than a year. An unspecified number of cats were abandoned last summer when Tropical Storm Fay forced more than two-hundred residents from their homes at nearby Manna Christian Village RV Park.
The cats were picked up by Lee County Domestic Animal Services (LCDAS) which offered to return them to their guardians once they settled back in but few tenants availed themselves of this opportunity. Although it is difficult to believe that the knackers at LCDAS would ever turn loose a cat once they got their hands on it, the Naples Daily News insists that those cats now roam the empty lots of the park. More than likely they are cats that never were trapped in the first place.
As reprehensible as the abandonment of any cat is, being uprooted from their homes has not been easy on the former tenants of Glade Haven. Through the intervention of Florida Rural Legal Services, each tenant received two weeks free rent plus $1,374 for trailers that they were unable to move out of the park.
In order to receive this rebate, however, they were forced to prove that they were the legal owners of their homes and, as a consequence, it is speculated that many of them were unable to take advantage of this offer. This assumption is buttressed by the fact that many of them apparently were even too poor to hire a truck in order to move their furniture and children's toys to their new abodes.
Some of the tenants have relocated to other low-rent accommodations in Bonita Springs, such as Manna Christian, Saldivar Migrant Camp, and Pueblo Bonito, while others have been forced to seek out cheap housing in either Cape Coral or North Fort Myers. Still others have left the area altogether.
Being hard-working people, however, they should eventually land on their feet. They also are receiving an unspecified amount of support from the state and Christian charities.
None of that materially alters the fact that neither the cats nor their guardians should have been given the bum's rush in the first place. The blame for this tragedy rests squarely upon the shoulders of the politicians in Bonita Springs and Eagle Bay who saw an opportunity to kill two birds, c'est-a-dire, with one stone and took it.
To make a long story short, local politicians wanted rid of the poor Hispanics on the one hand and saw an opportunity on the other hand to greatly increase tax revenues through their Faustian bargain with Eagle Bay. It also is conceivable that campaign contributions and other inducements played a role in winning the support of the politicians. In order to sell this outrageous land grab to a gullible public, the politicians relentlessly attacked the trailer park's antiquated sewer system.
"(Glade Haven) has a failing sewer plant that has not been properly maintained and operated for a number of years," Bonita Springs City Manager Gary Price told the Naples Daily News on June 14th. (See "End Is Near for Bonita Springs Trailer Community.") "It was creating concerns for adjacent neighbors and the (City) Council saw an opportunity to have the situation cleaned up." (See photo of him on the left below.)
Price's lopsided, hypocritical view of the sewage problems at Glade Haven is fully endorsed by the park's former manager, Richard McKinley. "We've always had problems with water here, sewage you know," he told WINK-TV of Fort Myers on June 15th. (See "Mobile Home Park Closes to Make Way for Condos.") "Everything's pretty old. I'm just glad we finally got outta here."
That certainly is an odd statement coming as it does from a man who now is presumably out of a job and invites speculation as to the source of his elation.
In that good old, time-honored, American tradition of kicking individuals while they are down, some residents of Bonita Springs simply have been unable to resist getting in their licks. "They (the residents) really live in like squalor," an unidentified young white male screeched to WINK-TV in the article cited supra.
It was, however, Elizabeth Sherlock, a white female, who really let her slip show for all to see. "This is the worst living conditions I've ever seen," she swore to WINK-TV. "I've been into one of these trailer homes, and it is all rotten floors, and there's smell of sewage and bugs, and it's just so sad to see that people are forced to live in this situation."
Her remarks are reminiscent of those uttered by Eddie Boy Koch when he ruled the roost in Gotham back during the 1980's. He did not want the poor living in residential hotels and tenements so he and his rich buddies demolished most of the city's low-income housing and threw the poor into the street.
Overlooked in all of this self-serving propaganda and bigotry is the petit fait that it was the responsibility of the management and owners of Glade Haven, i.e., McKinley, to properly maintain the sewage system as well as to make sure that the trailers were fit for human habitation. Secondly, it was the responsibility of city officials to ensure that management complied with all existing laws.
Obviously, neither management nor the city did their jobs. In fact, it certainly appears that they purposefully were derelict in their duties so as to foist a fait accompli upon the tenants.
This reading of the situation is reinforced by comments made by City Council member Janet Martin. "It's (the condos) going to be a positive thing for the piece of property," she gushed to the Naples Daily News in the June 14th article cited supra.
In stark contrast to what one would expect based upon the comments made by their opponents, all of the former residents seen in recent videos are well-spoken, clean, and their clothes immaculate. Moreover, even their detractors never have accused them of being anything other than hard-working, albeit poor, residents of the community. (See photo immediately below of former tenant Maria Ramirez outside her trailer.)
So, in the end, the capitalists and the politicians who stooge for them have won again as is per usual in America. To borrow a turn of phrase from late country crooner Jerry Reed, they got the gold mine while the poor and the cats got the shaft.
This is an all-too-familiar refrain that has been played out from Gotham to La-La Land over the past thirty years and is the principal reason why America has so many dirt-poor and homeless individuals. It also explodes the myth that America is anything remotely resembling a democracy as opposed to the kleptocracy that it is in reality.
The disgraceful failure of blowhard Obama and the Democrats in Congress to enact meaningful health care reform, to curb global warming, phase out the use of fossil fuels, and to reform the credit markets are additional examples of this harsh reality. (See Organic Consumers Association, June 18, 2009, "A List of Corporate Lobbying by Jill Richardson," Washington Post, July 6, 2009, "Familiar Players in Health Bill Lobbying," and The Guardian, June 26, 2009, "The Failed State of United States Climate Change Policy.")
In any halfway civilized society neither the cats nor the tenants would have been forced out into the street. In this case, the courts should have intervened and compelled Eagle Bay and Bonita Springs to have either allowed both of them to have remained in their dwellings under improved conditions or to have resettled them beforehand in new abodes.
Considering the billions of dollars that both parties stand to make off of this weasel deal, such a stipulation would have cost them peanuts but it would have spared the cats and tenants untold misery. Things are not done that way in capitalistic, despotic America, however.
While holding governmental officials accountable for anything is nigh near impossible these days, an all-out effort nonetheless needs be made in order to expose their role in adding to the population of both homeless cats and individuals. That is in addition to their systematic slaughter of tens of millions of cats each year. (See Cat Defender post of September 14, 2006 entitled "Cat Killing Season Is in Full Swing All Across America as Shelters Ramp Up Their Mass Extermination Pogroms.")
Of immediate concern is the race against the clock to save Glade Haven's cats and anyone willing to contribute to this rescue effort can contact Matos at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: Allie Garza of the Naples Daily News (cats and Fine), City of Bonita Springs (Price), and Lexey Swall-Bobay of the Naples Daily News (Ramirez).