Thursday, March 22, 2012
Tonight I'm upset! I tend toward trying to be fairly even-keeled and reasonable, but this situation has my fur standing on end! Let me tell you about what has been going on. There is a Catholic Church in lower Manhattan, NYC, St. James church to be specific that has decided that they need to starve a small group of cats to force them to leave the church grounds. This is a small colony of feral cats, eight total, that have taken up sanctuary on the grounds of the church. The city of NY is teeming with thousands of feral cats (cats that have gone wild or been born and raised by wild parents thereby always being wild). Most of these cats are descendants of domesticated house kitties that people have abandoned or have run off to fend for themselves, some many generations ago. Don't kid yourself, the feral cat population in NYC and elsewhere has always been encouraged by humans who couldn't be bothered to fulfill their responsibilities towards the animals they once called pets.
There are organizations of volunteers who routinely (TNR) feral cats, "trap, nueter and release" because an adult feral cat can't usually be tamed and then they check up on these colonies and provide food and assistance as needed. These volunteers are truly angels in my opinion. Well, this story started when the priests from St. James Church contacted the NYC Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, Community Outreach Coordinator, Mike Phillips and had this colony of eight cats TNR'd. The cats had several kittens, approximately two dozen, that Mr. Phillips told me were trapped, vaccinated, fixed, tamed and then adopted out and the original eight returned to the secluded, cloistered grounds of St. James. To be left off elsewhere they would have found their way back to St. James, as feral cats will keep going back to their 'territory'.
Now, the Priests of St. James, Father Lino Gonsalves and Father Walter Tonelotto according to "Out of the Cage", have locked out caretakers and routinely remove any food left by caregivers in a cruel and heartless effort to starve these poor animals off of church grounds.
What I found fascinating is that a feral cat colony will defend their territory and keep outsider cats from coming in, and the colony should remain at approximately eight cats. Since they are fixed and vaccinated they are a better alternative to a new, possibly larger colony moving in should the eight cats be permanently removed. Any new cats that move in would not have been fixed or treated and would again have numerous kittens and the situation would just escalate. What is typically done once a colony of feral cats has been treated and returned, is they are monitored and provided any care that's necessary.
The Priests at St. James, although having initially, done a good thing by having the Mayor's Alliance, NYC Feral Cats Initiative TNR this colony, it now makes little sense that they would choose to deliberately starve them, in my mind this is akin to torturing an animal, in an uneducated attempt to starve them out. They will starve them, but not where they will leave the church's property, but TO DEATH.
My research shows that Pope Benedict XVI, is known to adore feral cats, and has defended their care on the grounds at the Vatican. Knowing this, the decision by the Priests of St. James to starve out the cats makes even less sense! This is the article I read, it is from "Out of the Cage" The Blog of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals and you can read that article here:
This article gave the following contact information and I contacted both St. James Church at (212) 267-8376 and Joseph Zwilling's office, Communications Director for the Archdiocese of New York, at (212) 371-1011 x2997, and expressed my outrage and sadness at such cruel and inhumane treatment of these poor, helpless animals. I was initially told that there was a resolution taking place, but they couldn't tell me what it was.
Fearing the worst, I then contacted the NYC Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, Community Outreach Coordinator, Mike Phillips, because reports had stated that the church's groundskeeper was just going to poison the cats! I was very wary that this was the 'resolution' they had come to as they couldn't 'divulge any information regarding the resolution', the words of the person at the church who answered the phone and refused to identify himself. Mike Phillips was awesome, let me say. He talked with me, explained a lot of information I hadn't realized was involved with the care-giving to a feral cat colony, and told me that he was having a difficult time getting the church to schedule a meeting so a kind, humane resolution could be reached. I then called the Archdiocese of New York and was told that it was completely up to St. James church to schedule a meeting or to choose to do anything, that the 'Archdiocese would not be getting involved in this matter.' End of story . . . or was it?
Again, I contacted Mike Phillips and left a message as to what I had been told. I also posted the article above on Facebook and many of my friends on Facebook called to voice their concerns and outrage at this cruel and unnecessary treatment of these animals. I thank everyone who supported these poor animals by taking the time to speak out!
Mr. Phillips continued to make follow-up calls and then called to inform me that a meeting has been scheduled for next Tuesday, March 27th and that a representative of the Archdiocese will be present and supervising the meeting. THANK YOU MIKE!! I can only pray to the Goddess that in the meantime the church will allow volunteers to feed these poor creatures as they have been starved, by all reported accounts, for over two weeks now and this is unacceptable.
Now, this may be a blog written by a Goddess worshiping witch, and it is! But I do not cast any aspersions on the Christian or Catholic community, I simply feel that these two men, Priests of St. James, are uneducated, ill-informed or just downright cruel and heartless in their treatment of some of God/Goddess's most helpless of creatures. I sincerely hope that Mr. Phillips and the Feral Cat Alliance can help these two Priests understand that harm and cruelty are never an answer for any of life's problems.
I would like to thank Mike Phillips for the work he does on behalf of so many forgotten cats and kittens and I send him bright blessings for his work to go on and to be supported by many. I would also like to say kudos to the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals!! There should be a branch like this in every community in the country, and I'm very impressed that NYC has such a program. There are so many good people out there that wish to help in so many ways. If you'd like to help please read the article, contact the people in charge and let them know, this is not O.K., the way we treat an animal can only speak to how we would treat one another. For how can we be selective in our compassion, our love and our empathy for other living things? I know, I can't be.
I hope you will help spread the word as the more people witnessing this event, I want to believe, the less likely that further harm will come to these cats. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Peace and Happiness
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at Thursday, March 22, 2012