Monday, November 18, 2013

Feline Fights and the Cat-tastrophe on Treasure Island

For once I feel like I have a totally impartial perspective on an emotionally charged North Bay Village issue.  I am indifferent to cats.  I don't love them, I don't hate them.  Now this doesn't make me a bad person, there are many other things that do, but maybe I have just the right perspective.  

Here's the story.  From time to time on the Facebook group, North Bay Village Residents Speak, discussions erupt over what to do about the overpopulation of cats on Treasure Island.  These discussions quickly divide into "Cats are pests." and "Cats need to be cared for."  

The situation is that some residents and apparently a non-resident put food and water out for neighborhood cats.  It's important to know that many of these same people also spend their own time and money to have cats neutered and for their medical care.   The cat feeders are not only caring but generous in their concern for the cats.  And on the plus side for the cats, we are the only island in Biscayne Bay without a significant rat and mouse problem, so score.  

On the other hand, the population of unclaimed cats has continued to grow and like those other South Florida pests, the Kardashians,  they are a nuisance.  The food in the street also feeds other animals and attracts insects, particularly mosquitoes, and these pose a health hazard.  There have been nights when we are awoken by cats screaming.  Two years ago, I found a mother cat and a litter of kittens living in my attic.  Uninvited, they had found a small opening to the roof and set up an apartment there.  I had to crawl around the attic in July to evict them.   I'm seriously allergic to cats so I talked a neighbor into driving them to the Miami-Dade Animal Shelter.  

Back to the Facebook discussion, it was proposed by one poster that the residents form a group to deal with the problem.  Others want the cat carers (well I don't what the right description is) stopped.   

The problem here is classic of a disengaged government.   No one is arguing that there is no cat problem on Treasure Island.   The discussion is what to do about it.  For years, NBV had an Animal Control Board who advised on policy, provided removal services for strays, and who I know personally paid for spaying and health care.   Under our mayor and her many village managers, this fell by the wayside.  And now it's out of control.  

An informal organization will not cut it.  I think the residents have to be clear that the village must support and find a solution to this problem that reduces the nuisance and treats the animals correctly.  The village should restore the Animal Control Board and give it specific direction to find an acceptable community approach to this problem.  This should not be dividing us;  it should be uniting us.  

But given our mayor's dislike of residents, I can't see her championing this.  Still, pushing the commission is the way to go for the moment.  

Kevin Vericker
November 18, 2013

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