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Meadows of Chantilly Campaign

The Meadows of Chantilly is just one example of a situation that occurs daily in communities across the nation – cats' lives are threatened due to lack of information about humane methods of management or property managers decide to take the seemingly "easy way out," despite the cruel and costly consequences.

Read the following timeline for a detailed account of the Meadows of Chantilly Campaign.



 

Meadows of Chantilly – One Year Later: People and Cats Peacefully Co-exist

One year after Alley Cat Allies stepped in to prevent a plan to catch and kill feral cats at the Meadows of Chantilly, the northern Virginia community’s people and cats are happily and peacefully coexisting.

Through negotiation, mediation, and community outreach and education, Alley Cat Allies successfully worked in and with the Meadows community, as well as its management company Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), to save the cats’ lives and ensure that the community continues to be home for both populations.

Alley Cat Allies completed the formal agreement with ELS in the fall of 2008, and submitted a progress report on the project that also made recommendations on how to maintain the program’s success.

In the four years prior to the agreement, more than 300 cats and kittens were spayed or neutered by Alley Cat Allies and another local organization. During the 2008 initiative, 15 feral cats were neutered, along with eight resident’s cats. Twenty-one kittens were placed into foster care. We also built six outdoor shelters and six feeding stations and placed them on the property. Most importantly, residents are happy after we talked with close to 75 residents and provided dozens of on-site consultations and deterrents.

Other positive results from the Meadows program include:

  • Improvement in overall resident attitude toward the cats;
  • Increased resident knowledge and understanding of outdoor cats;
  • Improved communication and collaboration between residents;
  • Increased resident satisfaction toward the Meadows as a whole;
  • Management understanding of the basics of maintaining a Trap-Neuter-Return program and willingness to support its residents’ desires to keep the cats safe; and
  • Decreased numbers of concerns expressed by residents.

We recommended that ELS:

  • Build on our success in fostering open communication by encouraging residents to contact them with questions about cats;
  • Assume Alley Cat Allies’ role in offering humane deterrents to any residents who call with concerns about cats on their property;
  • Store humane box traps on the property so that residents can continue Trap-Neuter-Return as needed; and
  • Require new residents to have their pet cats spayed or neutered in an effort to prevent population growth.

We closed our final report by cautioning:
“The key to a successful feral cat Trap-Neuter-Return program is continued community involvement. If future questions from residents and requests for help with cats go unanswered, then the progress made in the community will quickly reverse.”

ELS is now prepared to take over. Alley Cat Allies provided educational materials about feral cats, such as our How to Live with Cats in Your Neighborhood brochure, to share with residents as needed. We also remain a consultant to the Meadows to answer questions that may arise. Lastly, resident volunteers continue to Trap-Neuter-Return any intact cats found on the property.

Alley Cat Allies won over the Meadows community and built support through open communication. Stay tuned to the website for more educational information coming this spring about mediation.

July 28, 2008 - Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Cat Task Force steps up to help the Meadows of Chantilly’s residents, caregivers, and cats with the ongoing Trap-Neuter-Return project

There is more to Trap-Neuter-Return than simply trapping and neutering cats. On Saturday, July 26, 33 volunteers built six feeding stations and six shelters for the outdoor cats who call the Meadows of Chantilly home. Teams built the feeding stations and Girl Scout troop 4413 camouflaged the feeding stations by painting them forest green. These feeding stations and shelters have been strategically placed in a location at the community where the cats congregate. Having ample feeding stations and shelters to support the cats is an important part of managing colonies and deterring cats from areas where they are not wanted. 

July 3, 2008 - Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Cat Task Force Makes Progress

Alley Cat Allies is busy at the Meadows of Chantilly with a variety of projects. The Task Force continues to respond to residents’ requests for humane deterrents and for assistance spaying and neutering their companion cats. Alley Cat Allies is also responding to kitten sightings. As kittens are found on the property, Alley Cat Allies places them in carefully pre-screened and loving foster homes.

To date, Alley Cat Allies has placed 17 kittens from the Meadows of Chantilly into foster care. Special thanks go to Neuter Now Inc. for accepting 10 kittens into their fostering program! Thank you also to our volunteer foster parents who have agreed to open their homes to cats and kittens awaiting adoption.

Alley Cat Allies’ first round of trapping at the Meadows of Chantilly took place on Saturday, June 7. Thirty- two volunteers came out to trap cats and kittens in targeted hot spot areas. Thank you to everyone who supported our efforts to spay or neuter every feral cat on the property.

On Saturday, July 26 the Task Force will assemble feeding stations and shelters for the cats at the Meadows of Chantilly. Alley Cat Allies’ staff will provide instructions on how to construct and decorate these structures. Volunteers who aren’t comfortable building will also be needed for their painting and organizing skills. To volunteer for this project, email Alley Cat Allies.

May 6, 2008 - Alley Cat Allies’ Successful First Month in Chantilly, Virginia

In its first month under a formal agreement with Equity LifeStyle Properties, Alley Cat Allies has logged dozens of hours working in person and over the phone with residents at the Meadows in Chantilly, Virginia to mediate complaints and install humane deterrents. Alley Cat Allies has also been providing free spay and neuter and vaccination for companion cats.

Plans are underway for building of shelters and feeding stations, completing the first round of trapping, and educating caregivers on the property about appropriate feeding and caring guidelines.

March 31, 2008 - Alley Cat Allies' Feral Cat Task Force Began Work in Chantilly, Virginia

Last week, Alley Cat Allies and our volunteer Feral Cat Task Force continued to humanely and effectively manage the outdoor cats residing at the Meadows of Chantilly property in Virginia, including distributing cat deterrents and reaching out to residents to share information and learn more about individual’s needs.

On Friday, March 28, the Feral Cat Task Force leafleted the neighborhood with flyers announcing the program and urging residents to contact Alley Cat Allies if they were providing care for the outdoor cats, if they would like their pet cats spayed or neutered free of charge, and if they had concerns about the cats so that Alley Cat Allies could address needs on an individual basis. Volunteers also started evaluating the colonies and surveying the area.

Alley Cat Allies’ president Becky Robinson was also on hand to accept a generous donation of $5,000 from the Humane Society of Fairfax County, presented by Barbara Becker, the Feral Cat Program Director.

Alley Cat Allies met with representatives from Equity LifeStyle Properties earlier in the week to agree on the plan, which includes trapping all remaining unaltered cats and providing no-cost spay and neuter services and vaccination; finding foster or permanent homes for tame kittens and cats; distributing and installing products to humanely deter cats from areas where they are not wanted; and providing ongoing education to residents on how outdoor cats and people can peacefully coexist. Equity LifeStyle Properties endorsed the plan. 

Watch the video of the news coverage »

Friday, March 14, 2008 - Alley Cat Allies Successfully Negotiated to Protect Virginia’s Cats
After first threatening the lives of the over 200 cats that reside at the Meadows of Chantilly in Virginia, property management company Equity LifeStyle Properties decided to collaborate with Alley Cat Allies to strengthen the existing Trap-Neuter-Return program. Alley Cat Allies applauds their willingness to partner with us to do what’s best for the community and the cats.

Thanks to the more than 2,000 letters from advocates who took action, along with an offer of help from Alley Cat Allies, the company further assessed their situation and agreed to work with us and their residents to ensure the cats’ safety.

Alley Cat Allies is working on creating a plan with Equity LifeStyle Properties. We are poised to mobilize the over 150 local volunteers and organizations who have offered to help in the coming days, weeks, and months to educate residents, find homes for stray cats and kittens, implement deterrents, and coordinate and carry out all aspects of the Trap-Neuter-Return program.


Thursday, March 13, 2008 - Alley Cat Allies Continues Its Work to Stop the Plan at the Meadows of Chantilly
After no response from the Regional Office, Alley Cat Allies sent a letter to the CEO of Equity LifeStyle Properties and initiated an email campaign. We received a call back from Ellen Kelleher, Legal Counsel on Thursday, March 13 and immediately went into talks with Equity LifeStyle Properties to come to a reasonable solution that would help the community and protect the cats.

Alley Cat Allies is assembling a team of supporters who could help with hands-on work at the Meadows, recruiting those who could spread the word to the community through door-to-door leafleting, distributing deterrents, implementing humane ways to keep cats away from places they are not wanted, and being on call to help with cats that may get trapped and sent to the local shelter.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - Meadows of Chantilly's Trap-Neuter-Return Program Jeopardized: Equity LifeStyle Properties Planned Trap and Kill at Trailer Park
On Monday, March 10, residents of the Meadows of Chantilly, a community in Fairfax County, Virginia, came home to find a memo stating that their property management company, Equity LifeStyle, had hired a pest control company to trap and kill the cats residing on the property. Most of these cats – over 200 – were sterilized at Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Clinic. Alley Cat Allies urged Equity LifeStyle Properties to pursue a humane course of action for the cats.

The management of the Meadows of Chantilly assured Alley Cat Allies that they would meet with all concerned parties before taking any action, however they released a memo with intent to trap and kill before acting upon our request to meet. This denied request came as a shock because less than a year ago Alley Cat Allies collaborated with management and hosted community workshops at the property.
Alley Cat Allies has left multiple messages for and faxed a letter to Equity LifeStyle Properties expressing disapproval of their decision to have the cats killed. Alley Cat Allies urges them to postpone any action and meet with them face-to-face.

For more information, read this Washington Post article »
Read Alley Cat Allies' Press Release »