Voices From The Readers – March 18, 2022

Voices From The Readers – March 18, 2022

Berlin Cat Issue Addressed

Editor:

I am writing in response to the article published last week, regarding the missing pet cats.  I am the director of Community Cats Coalition.  We are a 501(c)-3 non-profit cat rescue organization. We are devoted to the rescue, care and adoption of stray, feral and abandoned cats. We practice, preach and promote trap-neuter-return (TNR) as the only humane solution to the overpopulation of cats. We TNR 1,200 to 1,500 cats per year. We work with another 501 organization, Forgotten Cats, based in Delaware, which also has clinics in Philadelphia. Forgotten Cats has been awarded the Maryland Department of Agriculture Spay/Neuter grant and has been approved by the state of Maryland to trap/neuter/return cats in Snow Hill, Berlin, Ocean Pines, Ocean City, WOC, Bishopville, Girdletree, Stockton, Whaleyville Pocomoke City and Salisbury. Any resident of these areas can get stray or feral cats they are caring for fixed for free.

While our two local humane societies do offer low cost spay/neuter services, they are usually booked three months out and can only do some many cats per clinic. Forgotten Cats offers three clinics per week and can handle 90 cats per clinic. Forgotten Cats spay/neutered 15,000 cats in 2021. They rescue from the Eastern Shore, all of Delaware, Philadelphia and New Jersey. The director of Forgotten Cats is currently trying to find property here on the shore to open a clinic that can handle high volume to help as many cats as possible.

Our goal is to help as many residents of all the counties to get the cats they are caring for fixed in order to prevent more litters of kittens being born. In doing so, we take the burden off our local shelters.  The more cats we are able to fix, the less number of kittens will be born.

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We receive 10-16 calls per week from residents asking for help and who cannot afford to get the cats they are caring for fixed. We currently have a waiting list of 52 residents.  We are receiving more calls than usual as we have begun kitten season.

Now, to address the situation with the pet cats, a local resident feeds all the strays that come on her porch in the town of Berlin. She loves cats and understands that unfixed cats will breed. All the “pet cats” would show up on her porch every morning. She would feed them and began to worry that they were going to breed.  So, she trapped them and called us to make sure they would be fixed and not reproduce. She had no way of knowing these were “pet cats” as they had no ear tips, no collars, not even a flea collar that would alert her that these cats were owned and, subsequently, we found out that none of these missing cats were even microchipped.

Worcester County Animal Control laws state that cats cannot roam free and must stay on their owners’ property and remain supervised at all times. These pets lived on Branch Street, but were allowed to roam three streets over to Bay Street. Four out of the six missing cats were not even fixed. One of the two that were fixed was so emaciated and ill-looking that had this resident called Animal Control instead of us, this cat would have been euthanized.

Forgotten Cats immediately put this particular cat into the medical ward, gave it intensive care, fluids, antibiotics, bloodwork, tested for FIV/FeLv and made every effort to stabilize this cat.

Why was this pet cat allowed to roam the neighborhood when he looked so ill? Forgotten Cats fixed the four cats that weren’t fixed, so those owners received free medical care. These unfixed cats would have gotten pregnant and would have wound up having litters. So, you have irresponsible pet owners allowing their unfixed cats to roam the neighborhood, which is against the law. All the missing “pet cats” were returned and while we are sorry that the owners went through the anxiety of not knowing where their pet cats were, we feel the owners are responsible for what happened by allowing their pets to roam free three streets away from their homes without any identification.

Copied from Worcester County Animal Control laws: Animals not to run at large; impoundment. It shall be unlawful for any person to permit a dog, cat or other animal owned or harbored by him to run at-large. Any such animal running at-large may be apprehended by the Animal Control Warden or other designated officer and may be impounded in the animal pound. Any animal so impounded shall be held at the animal pound not less than three business days unless sooner redeemed by the owner. The owner of such animal may redeem it from the animal pound after its seizure upon the payment of a redemption fee and fine as established by resolution of the County Commissioners, subject, however, to the consent of the Warden as provided in Subsection (H) above. Any animal presenting symptoms of infectious or communicable disease constituting a health threat to other animals in the pound may be euthanized prior to the expiration of the holding period.

It shall be unlawful for the owner of any dog or cat to permit such animal to be off the property of the owner without having its individual license tag attached to a collar or harness worn by the animal.

We cannot hold the cats we were called to trap for a three-day quarantine in order to see if they are someone’s pet cat, nor can we take pictures of every cat, nor can we scan a feral cat thrashing about in a trap. When we receive a call from a resident concerning the cats they are caring for, we ask the resident to inform their neighbors that we will be trapping in that area and to please keep their pet cats inside.  We trap the cats and they are driven to the clinic where they are scanned for a microchip, fixed, vaccinated for rabies, given a distemper shot, pain meds, flea meds, worming meds, ears are cleaned, and nails are trimmed.

Ms. Stearns states that there is “No feral cat problem” in the town of Berlin. I beg to differ with her. We fixed 17 cats on Vine Street, 15 cats on Broad Street, 12 cats on Franklin Street, eight cats near the Atlantic Hotel and Bay Street is a huge problem with people abandoning cats. We just today received a call from a resident on Washington Street who is caring for eight stray cats. Left unaltered these cats that we fixed would have bred out of control. We are doing a service to the neighborhood, a free service I may add.  She also stated that the resident who trapped the cats did so as she didn’t care for them. The resident was concerned enough to call us instead of animal control. She wanted to make sure they were fixed and vaccinated and would not reproduce. There are some people who don’t like cats and are tired of their neighbors allowing their pets to run all over the neighborhood and who get a trap, trap the cat and drive it an hour away and dump it. This resident loves cats and was trying to do what was best for the cats.

In speaking with Chief Grandstaff of Animal Control in Snow Hill, he stated that these pet cats should not have been roaming the neighborhood and that he could issue each one of these owners a citation of $100 for allowing their pet cats to roam free.

I have read the comments on the Facebook page “WeheartBerlin.”  I am saddened that people have to make comments without knowing the true facts. We do not set out to kidnap peoples pet cats. I have spent 42 years of my life in rescue. Every single day I get up to face another day of saving cats’ lives, of fighting for them, advocating for them, worrying for their safety, making shelters for them so they stay warm, feeding 10 colonies out of my own pocket, climbing under decks, into drains, up in lofts, under wood piles to rescue cats.  It’s exhausting backbreaking work.  There are days where my rescue partner and I don’t get home till 2 a.m., as we are answering calls, driving cats to clinics, taking care of our colonies, driving three hours up and three hours back from Philly, responding to emergency situations. It is never ending and is emotionally, physically, and financially draining. We are all volunteers, no one gets a salary, we are not government-funded, and we pay for the cats needs out of our own pockets, yet we continue to fight for them, so that they can have a better life as they did not ask for the one they are living now.

If anyone would like to come and spend one day with us, to see what we do, to get an idea of what goes into rescue, we would gladly welcome you. Come on out, get involved, help save a life!

Susan Coleman

Director-Community Cats Coalition

communitycatscoalition.com.

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Town’s Marketing Budget Over-Inflated

Editor:

The Mayor and City Council of the Town of Ocean City are about to adopt fiscal year 2022 Budget Amended number one. We just learned that there is an additional amount of room tax collected totalling $1,520,000, which is earmarked for advertising. This raises the current advertising budget from just under $8.3 million to over $9.8 million. Any funds not spent this fiscal year will carry over into fiscal year 2023.

As I went door-to-door on the recent petition drive to bring Ordinance 2021-24 to referendum, I stated to voters that the Mayor and Council were on track to spend $8.3 million in advertising this year. Prior to beginning the petition drive I wrote in an earlier Letter to the Editor, “Based on the trend of room tax increases over many years, and based on the increased formula found in the new ordinance, a conservative estimate is that funds dedicated to the broad category of ‘destination marketing’ which includes advertising will be in excess of $8.7 million in fiscal year 2024 and over $9.5 million in fiscal year 2025.”

The $9.8 million for advertising now in the amended budget already exceeds my conservative estimates for the future. This insane amount of money for tourism advertising is the result of a flawed ordinance adopted in 2007. We have long passed the point of diminishing returns when it comes to these expenditures. Ordinance 2021-24 only exacerbates the situation. Who knows how high the advertising budget will climb in the years to come? Hopefully, the voters will have a say on this issue in November.

We also just learned that the Mayor and Council now have in excess of $15.9 million in unassigned reserve funds, over and above their 15% reserve policy. It is the equivalent to 17 cents on the current property tax rate. Thus, the Mayor and Council could have cut the property tax rate by over 37% for the current budget year, while still maintaining adequate reserves. Hopefully, major changes will be made on election day.

Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.

Ocean City

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Outlaw Declawing Cats

Editor:

Maryland has the opportunity to take a humane step forward for the cats in our state by outlawing declawing, a cruel and painful procedure that can cause lifelong harm to cats. Our state should approve the declawing ban currently under consideration by the General Assembly.

Declawing is a needless, inhumane surgery on cats. It is painful and stressful, and its harmful long-term effects are so disruptive that cats can end up being relinquished to shelters.

Declawing is not as simple as trimming your nails. It is a surgical amputation of the last joints of a cat’s toes, as many as 20 amputations altogether. Not only are the bones cut off, but tendons, nerves and ligaments in each paw are also severed. Side effects can include hemorrhaging, paw pad lacerations, swelling, radial nerve damage, lameness, infections, reopening of wounds, chronic pain, biting, and urinating outside the litter box.

Declawing has already been outlawed in New York state and 13 major U.S. cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver and Pittsburgh, plus many countries including Switzerland, Israel and the United Kingdom. Maryland can take its place at the forefront of this movement by becoming the second state to outlaw this inhumane procedure.

Becky Robinson

President and Founder

Alley Cat Allies

Bethesda, Md.

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 Disappointed Again

Editor:

The annual Sunfest (end of season celebration in Ocean City) date has been changed again by the local officials.

This is a slap in the face to all faithful attendees who have already made vacation reservations based on dates announced in 2021. Changing reservations, employment vacation time and weather certainly make it hard for us and others to meet the new dates of Oct. 20-23, 2022.

This is also a hardship for all concerned, vendors, performers and hotels to try and make changes. The pop-up, unscheduled and unsanctioned events appear to run the city and it should be the other way around. We have been attending Sunfest for 33 years and our families, clubs and bus trips are sadly disappointed.

Roe and Carolyn Halbert

Atco, N.J.