LEESBURG, NJ—Bayside State Prison has refused again to lift a feeding ban for cats living on prison grounds that has now entered its second month. Today, Alley Cat Allies calls on Governor Chris Christie to intervene on the cats’ behalf and accept help offered by Alley Cat Allies and local groups.
Bayside State Prison is home to a colony of community cats who have been cared for by prison staff and inmates for over a decade. Last year, Alley Cat Allies and local animal organizations worked with Bayside State Prison to implement a state-sanctioned Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. On Oct. 9, 2014, the prison administration issued a feeding ban with no warning jeopardizing the lives of the cats who had come to be dependent on food from humans. Alley Cat Allies, the Humane Society of the United States, New Jersey Senator Jeff Van Drew, and nearly 25,000 of Alley Cat Alley’s supporters have all called on New Jersey Department of Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan to issue orders authorizing the immediate resumption of feeding. Commissioner Lanigan has flat out refused to date to allow the cats to be fed.
On Nov. 8, Alley Cat Allies arrived at the prison with donated cat food but was turned away by prison staff. Food sent by Alley Cat Allies via Amazon was similarly refused.
“Commissioner Lanigan is dismissing calls from within the prison, throughout New Jersey, and across the U.S. to end the feeding ban, thereby causing the cats to suffer,” says Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies. “Commissioner Lanigan need only look to a neighboring correctional facility in New York as an example of the humane treatment of cats in a prison setting, where Rikers Island has effectively practiced TNR for community cats for over a decade.”
Feeding bans are not only cruel, they are ineffective. The only scientifically proven, effective approach to community cat populations is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). In a TNR program, community cats—also called feral cats—are humanely trapped and brought to a veterinarian to be neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped (the universal symbol that a cat has been neutered and vaccinated). This process ends the otherwise endless cycle of litters of kittens being born.
Now that temperatures have plummeted in New Jersey and we are facing more snowy months ahead, it is imperative that the cats receive food and other care as soon as possible. We urge Governor Christie to do right by the cats and the people of New Jersey by requiring that Commissioner Lanigan end the feeding ban immediately and allow Alley Cat Allies to return to prison grounds to provide long-term care for the cats by reinstituting the prison’s successful TNR program.
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 over 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. Its website is www.alleycat.org.