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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: No-kill activism has given us an epidemic of suffering feral cats

Feral cats in Hawaii
Feral cats at the Lanai Cat Sanctuary in Hawaii.
(Jay Jones)

To the editor: As the president of a grass-roots organization founded in 1955 to curtail pet overpopulation, I applaud the L.A. Times and writer Carol Mithers for the insightful piece, “U.S. cities are overrun with feral cats, and magical thinking isn’t the solution.

We have our ear to the ground in five Southern California counties, and Mithers’ words ring true.

The no-kill movement’s misguided approach has had tragic results. It has miseducated the public into thinking that pet overpopulation is a myth and that it can “save them all.” Now entrenched in many shelters across the nation, this delusion leads to untold animal suffering through extreme overcrowding, increased hoarding by rescuers, releasing cats on city streets with no follow-up care, and shoddy adoption practices that degrade the value of animal life and can endanger human lives and public safety.

Surplus pets exist because people fail to take full responsibility for the dependent lives they create. Band-Aid approaches fail to address this, the root cause of the problem.

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It’s time for animal welfare professionals and activists at every level to work to promote spay and neuter legislation; humane education in our schools and communities; and far more convenient, low-cost spay and neuter venues.

Wendy Aragon, Long Beach

The writer is president of the Pet Assistance Foundation.

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To the editor: Mithers is spot on. It’s time to reexamine our attitudes about cats and call out those who say they have a simple solution and then ask for donations.

Sure, it’s pleasant to think there are enough homes for all cats, but if you mean “good homes,” it’s also delusional.

Cats suffer because we don’t take their needs seriously. They are domesticated animals. They depend on humans. Our attitude that they don’t need and deserve our protection, care and commitment needs to change.

Feral cats exist because of this very attitude, so how can a “solution” of state sanctioned abandonment of unowned cats ever solve the feral cat problem?

Let’s take cats seriously and commit to keeping them safely indoors. A strong public information campaign, humane education in our schools, supportive legislation and affordable spay and neuter would create a path. It would take time, but it would be worth it.

Betsy Denhart, Vista, Calif.


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