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Press Release

For Immediate Release: MARCH 12, 2008
Contact: ELIZABETH PAROWSKI, eparowski@alleycat.org or 240-482-1984; FRANCIE ISRAELI, fisraeli@johnadams.com or 202-207-1134

ALLEY CAT ALLIES PROTESTS PLAN BY MEADOWS OF CHANTILLY MANAGEMENT COMPANY TO KILL CATS
Equity LifeStyle’s Plan Amounts to Mass Slaughter, is Opposed by Residents and Fairfax County Animal Shelter, Group Says

BETHESDA, MD— Alley Cat Allies, the national experts on stray and feral cats, called on the management company of the Meadows at Chantilly, a property in Fairfax County, Va., to stop a plan to trap and kill several dozen sterilized and vaccinated cats living in on the property that have been cared for by residents for years.

“The management company’s plan to trap these cats and take them to be killed at the local shelter – at considerable expense to Fairfax County taxpayers – is cruel and very misguided,” said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies, which got involved at the Meadows in 2005, after being contacted for assistance by residents.

Through a monthly local clinic run by Alley Cat Allies, spay or neuter was carried out on over 200 cats by no cost to either management or residents. Residents and volunteers also found homes for an additional 100 tame cats and kittens. Alley Cat Allies has provided guidance and assistance.

The program championed by Alley Cat Allies and implemented at the Meadows is called Trap-Neuter-Return. Cats are humanely trapped, altered and vaccinated, and returned to their colony. Cats that have undergone the process are identified by “eartips”—the removal of the tip of the left ear. Trap-Neuter-Return ends the cycle of breeding and stops common behaviors often associated with outdoor cats, such as roaming, fighting and yowling. The program has successfully stabilized the population of outdoor cats at the Meadows, Robinson said.

But on Monday, March 10, Alley Cat Allies received a copy of a memo sent by the owner of the property, Equity LifeStyle, to all Meadows residents. The memo outlined plans to contract with a pest control company to trap and kill the cats, and instructed residents to immediately stop feeding them.

“When we originally learned last week that Equity LifeStyle was discussing removing the cats because of complaints by a few residents, we reached out to them at the request of the caregivers, many of whom are greatly distressed by this disturbing news,” Robinson noted. “We had been assured the company would meet with all concerned parties before moving forward with any plans. Residents feel betrayed.”

“As we have tried to explain to the management company, simply removing the cats will only make room for new, unaltered cats to move in and breed prolifically. Within months, the Meadows will find itself with nearly as many cats as it started with,” said Robinson. “Spaying and neutering is the only effective way to manage outdoor cats.”

Robinson noted that the Fairfax County Animal Shelter – the facility where Equity LifeStyle said it would bring the cats to have them killed – had not been notified of the plan and does not support it. It is Fairfax County Shelter’s policy to returned eartipped cats to their colony if brought to the shelter.

Feral cats are not “wild cats,” and in fact are the same species as domesticated cats. Feral cats are not socialized to people, but instead live with other cats in groups called “colonies.” Feral cats are as healthy as pet cats and are not a threat to people.
“Alley Cat Allies is truly disappointed with this announcement. We have worked with residents and together we have spent considerable time and money trapping, altering and vaccinating the cats,” Robinson said. “Many residents tell us how much they truly care about these cats and consider them part of the community. We will continue to fight for these cats, whose lives are literally in imminent danger.”

Robinson said Alley Cat Allies has formed a Task Force that will visit the property to distribute information to residents pertaining to proper feral cat colony care and ways to humanely deter the cats from unwanted areas.
Alley Cat Allies has also offered to provide the following free services to the Meadows:

  • Spaying or neutering and vaccinating any remaining unaltered cats.
  • Distributing and assisting in the installation of proven humane deterrents.
  • Consulting with management about Trap-Neuter-Return and how it effectively and humanely reduces the population of outdoor cats through attrition.

A recent national survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Alley Cat Allies revealed that an overwhelming majority of respondents – 81 percent – believe that leaving a stray cat outside to live her life is more humane than having her caught and killed. The survey also found that more than two in five Americans have at some point put food and water out for a stray cat.

“Outdoor cats and people can co-exist peacefully,” said Robinson. “Equity LifeStyle’s plan to trap and kill these cats is not supported by the majority of Americans.”

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About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is the nation’s leading advocate for stray and feral cats. Their website is www.alleycat.org.