This is a post in a series highlighting law enforcement response to community cats–the good, and the bad.
It’s much more than just a game of good cop/bad cop. Some police officers are very serious about helping save animals while they’re on duty (and off duty, too, of course).
Police Officer Jon Boyer in Baltimore got more than his 15 minutes of fame when a photo of him cuddling a kitten he saved went viral. He became an instant internet heartthrob and was even interviewed by The Today Show. But he’s not the only police officer helping out cats.
Many media stories involving police officers and animals are bad news, unfortunately. For example, in January an officer in Bloomfield, Neb., shot and killed a beloved pet cat named Larry. (My organization Alley Cat Allies is demanding an investigation and justice for Larry). Heartbreaking stories like this one often get a lot of media attention.
Unfortunately, the cops who do everything they can to help animals (with the exception of Officer Boyer) often don’t get any media attention. But they’re out there—and it’s more than just the typical cop-rescuing-a-cat-from-a-tree tale (although sometimes those tales aren’t typical at all).
For example, D.C. Police officer Joe Dolan found three feral cats after a snowstorm and got them spayed/neutered and vaccinated through Washington Humane Society’s highly successful Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. He and his team continue to care for the cats by providing regular feedings and even a heated water bucket to keep them more comfortable throughout the winter.
Marietta, Ga. Police Officer Amy Valente has helped (and adopted) multiple cats and dogs she has encountered while on duty. Once she fed a stray cat, and then after the cat jumped in her car with her, she brought her on her next call where she ended up arresting someone. For the entire ride to the police station, the cat (who she adopted and named Patty) stared the man down from the top of the passenger seat headrest. She has also bottle-fed neonatal kittens found while she was on duty.
Major Steve Lamb is helping cats in a very big way. This veteran police officer took over Spartanburg Animal Services in South Carolina in 2009 and implemented changes that have saved the lives of countless cats. One big change he made was starting a Trap-Neuter-Return program for community cats. Through the program, more than 600 cats have been neutered and returned—and the kill rate of cats picked up by animal control has dropped to essentially zero. The agency also posts often on its Facebook page about its successes and has gained a huge following.
In Scottsdale, Ariz., Police Aide Mary Seroka is also changing how her community views and treats cats. When the Scottsdale Police Department received calls about three feral cat colonies, Seroka committed to Trap-Neuter-Return all the cats. Within four weeks, she trapped 147 cats, and returned them to where they were found after they were neutered, vaccinated and eartipped to identify the cats as neutered and vaccinated.
These are just a few police officers who work hard saving animals’ lives. They go above and beyond the duties of their jobs to protect the lives of animals in their communities. And I think we should all give them props! If you see a police officer—or anyone else for that matter—helping an animal, let them know that you support what they’re doing. It can make all the difference.