Good ol’ Jersey City. Good ‘old’ Jersey City. And ‘old’, dare we say antiquated, animal policies. The loss of one of our good ol’ local colony cats, Roxy, shouldn’t go unnoticed. And neither should the incidents of the week prior to her body’s discovery.
A lot of you already know from fb that we had a human animal respond to notlostjc.com threatening to poison local cats in response to a door hanger that we placed on their door asking for assistance with gaining access to some ferals that we have been cut off from (see post @notlostjc). This idiotic reaction to a plea for help would be grounds for a story all its own. But this has more to do with the ability, or lack thereof, to deal with threats to animals and what effective, humane and truly beneficial animal control should look like.
A day after the threat a long time resident feral cat, Roxy, was found dead on the sidewalk.
Roxy’s colony is located within a one block radius of the threat’s origination.
Roxy’s body was collected by Jersey City Animal Control and disposed of the same day.
We have a fairly good relationship with Jersey City Animal Control. By virtue of what we do and stand for, we often operate in concert with and proximity to them. A casual “what’s up?” is not uncommon in passing. JCAC was made aware of the threat to cats in the area the day after it was received. JCAC was our first call as soon as we got the news that a dead cat was spotted in the area of the threat, reported and subsequently picked up by them. Unfortunately, the ensuing conversation raised more questions than answers and we were left waiting for more details. By the end of the day we had a picture of the cat as it lay on the sidewalk and a description of that picture. (a picture’s worth a thousand words, right? so a description of the picture is worth about…nothing) Absent were the details we were looking for. Was the cat ear-tipped? Was there conclusive evidence he/she was hit by a car? Was he/she a he or a she? We were told she might be a she or a neutered male…really???!!! She’s dead and intact, it ain’t like she’s gonna bite you if you take a good look. (We were able to identify her from the picture and make the determination that it was Roxy, and therefore a she)
Roxy’s untimely death shortly after a poisoning threat was, in all likelihood, a coincidence. We’re not here to be the harbingers of conspiracy theories or out to launch a witch hunt. Ferals have a very difficult life outside because they’re not wild animals…just feral domestic animals. It’s almost a certainty that she was hit by a car, as are so many.
But if we are to get on the soapbox (and we are), it is for this reason. Animal control for urban areas world wide needs to serve the animals as well as the public. There is no better way for them to serve the public than to serve the animals by being their number one advocates. People in urban areas rarely understand wild (or what they perceive to be wild) animal behavior. Animals in urban areas have the misfortune of being considered intruders in their own home range, nuisances in spite of themselves. Driven by instinct, they don’t understand the public; they only understand survival. They can’t necessarily be relocated successfully. It is the job of an effective animal control initiative to educate the public about these animals. If a person is annoyed with another sentient being, they should be compelled to understand that being. “It’s annoying,” or “it’s disgusting,” or “it’s unsanitary” are not excuses to become violent or threatening. There was a dude a while back that used the same basic language toward humans…and he’s rightly despised by just about everyone these days. (several dudes, actually, so you can choose the one that stands out in your mind)
We know that city agencies are bound by rules and regulations that don’t necessarily represent the opinions of the people that work for them so trust us, we’re not making any accusations. We realize that hands can be tied; shouldn’t be, but are. But here is what we think should have happened and what we think should become the standard for animal control.
-Threat directed at an animal (and please, let’s all remember that we’re all animals, so you can read between the lines and suss out our thoughts on human animals as well)
-Threat reported to animal control
-Dead animal discovered in area of threat
-Animal control called
-Groups (if any) that are familiar with deceased animal contacted by animal control
-Open exchange of all information surrounding the animal’s death
-If cause of death is inconclusive, group can request further investigation
—this is important with or without the poisoning threat. the public is served best if the cause of animal deaths is determined. in the case of feral cat colonies, it is important to know if death is caused by a virus or infection that may require the rest of the colony to be revaccinated or given antibiotics—
-Information evaluated and appropriate action taken
Seems reasonable to us. We’ll keep doing what we do. And we’ll keep working with Jersey City Animal Control. And we’ll keep working on Jersey City Animal Control. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if y’all are interested in working on a new animal order. It’s time we started giving them the respect they deserve. Even if there are good ol’ laws and ordinances in place that suggest otherwise. Good ol’ Jersey City deserves to be at the forefront of animal rights. Indeed, we should be the epicenter of the best damn animal control policies this country, and maybe the world, has ever seen! We can all live together…we’re sure of it!-----
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