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Press Release

For Immediate Release: December 12, 2012
Contact: ALISON GRASHEIM, agrasheim@alleycat.org or (240) 482-1985; FRANCIE ISRAELI, fisraeli@kellenadams.com or (202) 207-1134

ALLEY CAT ALLIES CRITICIZES BILOXI JUDGE FOR MISGUIDED PUNISHMENT OF FERAL CAT CAREGIVER
Mississippi woman sentenced to 100 hours of community service for caring for cats

BETHESDA, MD— Alley Cat Allies, the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats, today expressed disappointment at the recent conviction of a 78-year-old Biloxi woman apparently based on the mistaken belief by Judge Pro Tem Dean Wilson that her longtime participation in a sanctioned Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program for feral cats was a “hoarding” situation.

Despite testimony noting that Biloxi resident Dawn Summers had participated in a TNR program established through the Humane Society of South Mississippi, the judge convicted her of the hoarding charge and sentenced her to 100 hours of community service.

“This conviction is a travesty,” said Becky Robinson, president and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies. “Ms. Summers had been working within a city-approved program, providing an extremely valuable community service by ensuring that feral cats in her neighborhood were neutered and vaccinated, and stabilizing the population.

“The judge in this case made a grave error by fundamentally misunderstanding TNR. Ms. Summers does not ‘own’ these cats – their natural home is the outdoors and they were living on the property even before she was. She was not ‘hoarding’ them, but helping them,” said Robinson. “We stand behind Ms. Summers and others in her community who want the city’s TNR ordinance fixed so that misunderstandings like this can never happen again.”

Robinson noted that TNR is the only humane and effective approach to feral cats in any community, because feral cats are not socialized to people, cannot be adopted into homes, and are almost always killed in animal pounds or shelters.

In a TNR program, cats are humanly trapped and taken to a veterinary clinic, where they are spayed or neutered and vaccinated for rabies. A small portion of their left ear is removed (called an “eartip”) to identify the cats as part of a TNR program. Any tame cats or young kittens are fostered for adoption.

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About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. Founded in 1990, today Alley Cat Allies has nearly half a million supporters and helps tens of thousands of individuals, communities, and organizations save and improve the lives of millions of cats and kittens nationwide. Their web site is www.alleycat.org.