Updated: January 22, 2021
In the weeks ahead of Thanksgiving last year, the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) in Oakland, California, sent armed teams out in the dead of night to hunt and kill cats in a tiny slip of park bordered by car dealerships and office buildings. The park in question is part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline (MLK, Jr. Shoreline park).
Unfortunately, they were successful. When confronted, they lied, stonewalled, and whitewashed. Over several weeks, in the face of repeated inquiries from the caregivers, EBRPD staff indicated that they had killed some cats in MLK, Jr. Shoreline park. Finally, in response to questions from an investigative reporter from local TV station ABC7, EBRPD staff admitted to having shot and killed 12 cats in MLK, Jr. Shoreline park, and six more in other parks in 2020. A public records act request dated December 29, 2020 states they actually shot and killed 13 cats – not 12 – in MLK, Jr. Shoreline park in late 2020.
They may have shot more. Getting the truth out of EBRPD has proven very difficult. At least seventeen much loved community cats are missing, presumed dead — victims of the trigger-happy park district.
This systematic execution of animal cruelty was carried out by an agency funded by taxpayers in one of the most progressive regions in the United States. The cats were cared for daily. Their caregivers are rightly proud that they had successfully spayed and neutered, microchipped, and vaccinated the large majority of the cats. They were committed to sterilizing them all. The park district staff even knew the cats’ caregivers and had spoken with them. They did not, however, call to warn them that they were going to kill the cats.
Thousands of people around the world are outraged and heartbroken. They are united in wanting justice and the truth. This is a monumental abuse of the public trust and totally out of step with the moral guideposts that govern our society in the 21st century.
Alley Cat Allies has been involved since the story broke. We are determined to bring about real change. What happened to these cats should never be allowed to happen again.
The killing was done with full knowledge of the park management team. As unthinkable as it sounds, EBRPD management requested the killings based on the wrong-headed conviction that killing cats is necessary to protect wildlife. Junk science, a total disregard for the value of life, and a contempt for cats propelled them to advance this horrific approach.
Now that it has come to light, we need people everywhere to speak up. Our society needs more compassion and an end to violence. Bird, cats, humans, and all living creatures deserve respect.
We fully support the protection of ecosystems and wildlife. That is without question. Similarly, without question, cruelty to animals has no place in conservation or elsewhere in a civilized society.
When it comes down to it, the public is deeply against cruelty to animals. We can defend and protect all animals, including birds, without inflicting suffering, pain and killing other animals.
We support compassionate conservation, and we know that with sound public policy, common sense information, and best practices with a focus on sterilization and colony care, we can protect both cats and birds.
We want justice for the victims in the Oakland cat shootings. We will build a better, more compassionate world in their memory.
In 2021, Alley Cat Allies is prioritizing a complete rooting out of the entrenched thinking and outdated policies that underpin the systemic cat killing programs undertaken by far too many government agencies – local, state, regional, and national. EBRPD is not alone in the wrong it has done. It should take no comfort in the company it keeps on that score. Killing animals should not be normal operating procedure in our parks or anywhere else.
We will work to see that tax dollars are never again spent inflicting pain and suffering on animals. We will fight to see that protection and compassion are the cornerstones of policies impacting both endangered species and cats going forward.
To learn more, visit the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) Cat Shooting page.