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PETA Gets Involved in Seaside Heights Feral Cat Fight, Volunteers Ponder Next Move

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Two feral cats lounge near Casino Pier in Seaside Heights. (Photo: Rachael Bowen)
Two feral cats lounge near Casino Pier in Seaside Heights. (Photo: Rachael Bowen)

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has come out in support of the Seaside Heights borough council’s decision to end the town’s Trap, Neuter, Release program, as the volunteer group behind it has defended its management of the town’s feral cat population, hailing their efforts as a success.

The animal rights group, commonly known by its acronym PETA, said in a letter received by borough officials late Friday afternoon that TNR programs – in which volunteers trap, spay or neuter, then release feral cats into “colonies” they maintain – is in “conflict with the mission of public-health and public-safety agencies.”

The organization, in its letter, said its field teams have, in the past, witnessed cats “suffer and die badly because they have to fend for themselves outdoors.” Further, the letter states: “Homeless cats are forced to fight (and lose) daily battles against parasites, deadly contagious diseases, dehydration when their water sources evaporate or freeze, speeding cars, loose dogs, and malicious people.”

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“Moreover, roaming cats terrorize and kill birds and other wildlife who are already struggling with habitat destruction and environmental degradation,” the letter, signed by Teresa Chagrin, PETA Animal Care and Control Specialist, said.

For members of the Seaside Heights Animal Welfare Organization, the letter came as a blow. Before the letter was received, a Shorebeat reporter interviewed Lisa Franciosi, a Seaside Heights resident who is president of the group.

Franciosi said the organization has both spayed and neutered feral cats and has built shelters and feeding stations to ensure their safety and cleanliness to the boardwalk area. She also said the group has never opposed beach replenishment or asked for a “hole” to be placed in the future dunes, as has been rumored.

“We prevented people from going under [the boardwalk] and just throwing food to them,” said Franciosi. “We built shelters and feeding stations, protected by the weather and in one place, so we really cleaned it up.”

A cat named "Big Red" by volunteers at Webster Avenue on the Seaside Heights boardwalk. (Photo: Ken Salerno)
A cat named “Big Red” by volunteers at Webster Avenue on the Seaside Heights boardwalk. (Photo: Ken Salerno)

Franciosi did not have a measure of how much the borough’s feral cat population had decreased since the TNR program began in the summer of 2011, but said their efforts of spaying and neutering hundreds of cats is estimated to have prevented 1,600 kittens from being born.

“We know right now of six kittens” born recently, Franciosi said. “Now that no one’s trapping, those cats will soon be ready to reproduce. Now that the program has come to a stop, it’s going to make the problem worse, not better.”

In the letter from PETA, Chagrin questioned whether such programs actually reduce feral cat populations.

“Several reports suggest that support of ‘managed cat colonies’ may increase the public’s likelihood of abandoning unwanted pets in lieu of more responsible options,” she wrote.

The Seaside Heights program, hailed as a success by volunteers, did have a setback after Superstorm Sandy, Franciosi said.

“Homeowners left their cats in their homes, thinking they would be back on the island in two or three days,” she said. “It took three weeks, and many of these cats got out and have since repopulated. After the storm, we had two mass trappings all over town where we probably got 30 cats at one time.”

Still, she said, the program has not only prevented the population from growing, but has managed the existing population in an organized fashion. Now that the Seaside Heights Animal Welfare organization has been removed from administration of the TNR program, its members have continued to feed the cats, but have stopped the trappings and sterilizations since it no longer has the authority to do so.

Mayor Anthony Vaz reiterated over the weekend that the borough will work to amend its animal ordinance in July to come up with a new plan to reduce the population. The plan will “absolutely not” involve putting down the cats, Vaz said.

The Seaside Heights Animal Welfare Organization will not be placed back in charge of the borough’s feral cat reduction efforts, Vaz said. In a separate statement, Christopher Vaz, the borough administrator said the borough will look to partner with a new person and organization to lead whatever plan materializes.

“There certainly are members of SHAWO that we can work with, even if we will not work with SHAWO,” he said.

There have been numerous plans floated about the future of the cats, including relocating them elsewhere in town. SHAWO members opposed the idea of relocating the cats near Barnegat Bay, since state highway 35 runs along the bayfront, posing a danger. Members of the group have discussed among themselves potential relocation options, if their input is sought.

“There will be more discussion about that, at least between us, but I don’t know where we go from here,” said Franciosi.

[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Read the Letter

Letter from PETA to Seaside Heights, June 10, 2016[/box]

 

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  • Jenn

    PETA only cares about livestock. They kill thousands of cats and dogs in their own shelters. We need to get a group like Alley Cat Allies involved. They take care of the feral cats in Atlantic City.
    http://news.alleycat.org/?gclid=Cj0KEQjws_m6BRCv37WbtNmJs-IBEiQAWKKt0Jq16LF6qu0dQz9blQBj_Dm0DxA5OaxLb6kTKa3SqwYaAh9N8P8HAQ

    • kitcatkitty

      If your idea of ‘taking care’ is re-abandonment, they yep they sure do.

      • Kate Riviello

        Placing cats into a managed colony is not “re-abandonment.” Luckily most cat people are intelligent and will not fall for your double-speak. Killing animals is not animal rights – the word is out.

        • kitcatkitty

          Darn sure is re-dumping. Most folks are intelligent, eh? Did you take a poll? Tell me dear, what is intelligent about pursuing a method that has absolutely no effect on population reduction? What is intelligent about making an additional burden for native wild animals that are already struggling to survive? What is intelligent about re-dumping domestic cats to live and die outdoors where they have no native habitat and continue to spread the parasite Toxoplasma gondii for which they are the definitive hosts? What is intelligent about giving these cats a single rabies vaccine for life when that does absolutely nothing since there is no booster ever provided?

          • Sandy

            Kitcatkitty? You ever managed a colony? Ever participated in TNR? If not, you can’t speak to the effectiveness of the practice. It is not that TNR doesn’t work it is that in most places across the country there are not affordable spay/neuter resources but there are irresponsible people that will dump their unaltered cats as soon as they become inconvenient.

            PETA is a joke. They state right on their website that they feel that feral cats are better dead than fed. Does this sound like a cat loving organization or even a compassionate one?

            I am so sick of people that do NOT practice TNR telling people how ineffective it is. If you are not there to see the numbers reduce how the hell can you know. How can you possibly speak intelligently on a subject of which you have no knowledge?

          • Linda DeFrino

            Well said!

          • kitcatkitty

            Of course I can. But, I have been to enough ‘managed’ colonies to see what hellholes they are. There are enough news articles that report pissed off neighbors due to flea infestations, cats killing birds at feeders, damaged property, folks not able to run swamp coolers due to sprayed urine, and the list goes on. And there are peer-reviewed studies, including one by Foley et al. in which Levy is an author, and in which two well-funded TNR projects did not result in a reduction in the number of cats or population growth.

            Get. A. Clue.

            And, yes, I firmly believe that a lethal injection is a far kinder fate for cats that cannot be adopted than warehousing them outdoors to live and to die. TNR is nothing more than hoarding outdoors.

            You THINK you see the numbers reducing. You need to take a course on population dynamics. It ain’t happenin’.

            According to Andersen et al. 2004 more than 75% of the ENTIRE population of a given area (not just a colony) must be fixed EVERY year for ANY reduction to occur via TNR. Now, YOU tell me – is that happening? Did YOU do a census of your zip code or municipality prior to starting TNR and then again 3 to 5 years later?

            THAT is how I know. Y’all just feed cats, fix a few, and believe what you want to believe. TNR does NOT work to reduce the number of cats. Never has and never will.

          • Amy

            you are a death supporter? FREEDOM of speech…GOTO HELL!!!! GET ALL of your facts straight…fix a few? you sound like an ignorant sob…you are FAR OUTNUMBERED, and obviously not an animal lover…I don’t like you, relocate yourself…this program works…if u don’t have anything intelligent or helpful to say…go away!!!

          • Emma

            Why don’t you and your little anti-TNR club take your meeting elsewhere? I’m sure there’s another article for you to troll in another state. The people in Seaside are wise to your antics.

          • Emma

            KitcatKitty is a troll that spends its time searching the internet for articles about feral cats and TNR to write the same nonsense over and over.

      • SuziSaul

        Why hello, PETA supporter. Not surprised to see you here.

  • Harrison Weather

    Been Going down to Seaside Heights for years and NEVER witnessed a Cat attacking any kind of a bird, PETA should get there facts straight, Also NEVER have a seen a sick cat in Seaside Heights, I would love to hear from the man who started it all Ron Henry weigh in on this. Tony Mondaro – Harrison, NJ

    • kitcatkitty

      PeTA does have their facts straight. You have ‘your anecdotal observations’.

      See Figure 2.

      http://www.annualreviews.org/eprint/STdBdmcm5CU3gFzpTNIn/full/10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-112414-054133

      • SuziSaul

        Ummm the ABC tried to sue feral cats in NY or MA (some place up there) for wiping out an endangered bird and lost the case…because the stats they gave are false, and the bird they were trying to claim was being decimated actually gained in population over the period in question. This just happened.

        • kitcatkitty

          And your point is? A complaint got dismissed. That doesn’t mean they ‘lost a case’ or that this is over, and does not negate the peer-reviewed research above.

        • JJ McKibbin

          The case has not been lost. New York state filed a motion to dismiss, which is a common initial tactic used to try to get rid of the suit. A judge will decide whether to dismiss it or not, but the decision has not yet been made. In all likelihood the case will move forward. You don’t know what you’re talking about in regards to this lawsuit.

          • Amy

            kitcatkitty is a moron, just ignore the bitch!!!!! Has no facts and likes to talk out of her ass, must be a friend of the mayors!

          • Emma

            This is another TNR troll. Doesn’t live in Seaside or New Jersey. They all comb the internet for articles about feral cats and TNR all over the country to spew their nonsense. Just ignore.

      • Amy

        shut up, go away, go donate to kilers, really NO ONE wants to hear your stupid opinions….hope you don’t have a child, you’d probably raise them to be animal killers, you sick, twisted, sadistic pos!!!!!!

  • Gail

    Thanks, SHAWO, for turning the beach into a giant cat litter box and thank you Peta for speaking up and speaking the truth about the the inhumane practice of TNR, It is a disgusting practice that only results in suffering and cruel death for the cats, negative environmental impacts from cats hunting, parasite-laden feces that persist in the soil/sand that can affect native beach life, and runoff into the ocean. How about thinking about all the other animals and plant life that are affected by so many free-roaming cats? It may make people feel good to “rescue” these feral and homeless cats rather than humanely euthanize them, but in truth it is a psuedo-rescue that that only makes the extreme practice of “saving lives” feel good in the minds of the people who advocate for this.
    I think SHAWO’s funding could be better put to use by helping people who already have animals to get them sterilized and vaccinated. That way you get to the root of the problem before people abandon their unsterilized animal who then goes on to reproduce.
    Keep cats indoors or contained on private property just as we do for our counterpart, the domestic pet dog.

    • Kate Riviello

      There is nothing that you will ever be able to say that will support the notion that killing animals is a better “alternative” then taking care of them. With insulated cat houses and a steady supply of food and water, these animals are extremely happy particularly at this location. We do not do TNR only because it “feels good” – we do it because it is the only ethical, moral and righteous action to take. WE are their true voices of these innocent defenseless animals that want to live. We speak for them and their best interest and you certainly do not. In the town of Ridgefield, an outdoor fenced-in cat sanctuary was just established. This really should be explored at the local animal shelter.

    • Emma

      Since the people who actually live in Seaside know the beach isn’t a giant litter box, I think you should spend your time working on problems wherever it is you live. You clearly don’t know a thing about the TNR program in Seaside and how well the animals are maintained. There are already programs in place here for people to have their animals spayed and neutered for free or low cost, so perhaps you have some brilliant idea on how to force people to use them.

    • Amy

      GO and troll on another page…ANOTHER ONE who WILL be judged!!!!! Have you ever seen or smelled cat poop on the beach? I have lived here for 9 years and coming here since I was little….35 years ago…..the cats will ALWAYS be here and if the rat and mice come in, lol, you think you have a problem with disease you wait……PETYA SUPPORTERS, id like to euthanize each and EVERY one myself!!!!!!

  • Rosa M. Joseph

    PETA is a killing machine. That’s what they do. In their own facility in Virginia they kill over 94% of all cats and dogs, no matter if adoptable or not. PETA is all about getting funding.

  • LovesDogs2012

    I agree with PETA on this. Cats are domestic animals who deserve better than to have to fight it out on the streets. We require people with other domestic animals, like dogs, to keep them confined and clean up their feces and should require the same of cat owners. People who care about the cats should take them to their own properties and provide them with adequate and responsible care, which includes sterilization and humane confinement–and clean up after them. Outdoor cat hoarders are just as bad as indoor cat hoarders, but their illness affects more people and local wildlife to boot. TNR is irresponsible and cruel, and should be banned.

    • Tanya Giessler Quayle

      Are you serious?? If it wasn’t for irresponsible people who don’t get there cats fixed and then abandoned them this would not be a problem! People like you who claim to be an animal lover should rethink what you wrote! These cats have done nothing wrong! People are the problem! And for every tnr cat you stop the population by 1000’s! How is it cruel? Is your dog fixed?

      • Amy

        yea u should be banned…AGAIN get your facts straight b4 u open your mouth!!!

    • you should be banned

    • Emma

      Ignore. Just another of the TNR trolls that doesn’t live in Seaside or New Jersey.

  • d skyer

    I hope the officials in Seaside Heights solicits other opinions from more knowledgeable organizations than PeTA.

    • Kate Riviello

      They have the knowledge. The problem is that they are diabolical and evil in their twisted notion that a dead cat is better than a live one every time. The biggest threat to a cat’s life is peta.

  • Beth McMaster

    Please remove the cats. Those who want them should take them home.

    • chrisgee

      These aren’t tame house cats, they are unsocialized feral cats. This means they can’t really be adopted into homes; they can’t really be touched and avoid human contact. They’re best left in their managed colonies (after being fixed and vaccinated of course).

      • Beth McMaster

        A true “managed” colony would place the cats in an escape proof area where you care takers clean up the feces, etc. No one should be forced to deal with the problems these cats create unless they want to.

        • Emma

          Don’t you have anything else to do besides troll articles about TNR all over the country?

  • CSmith

    Seaside should do their research of PETA they are a killing machine of cats and dogs……dogs and cats go into their facility and leave out the back door in a bag

  • Emma

    This nutjob and aptly named Teresa *Chagrin* writes letters to the editors of papers all over the country espousing her kill programs. She doesn’t believe that animal rescue groups should exist, nor should shelters hold animals for adoption. According to Chagrin, if an animal is found homeless they should be euthanized immediately. No sane person should follow any advice from her or PETA.

    • Amy

      they should keep their opinions to themselves, grow a set and come see me, I have plenty id love to say to their face!!!!! KILLER SUPPORTERS

  • Sharon Gavin

    PETA wants every animal not to be owned, yet they don’t support TNR programs which are effective, as Atlantic City, my home and colonies and those of fellow caregivers throughout NJ can demonstrate. PETA needs NOT act as the voice for pets at all, since they’d rather see them die than be fixed and maintained outdoors or in.. Stupid and horrific position if you happen to be one of those fed and cared for feral cats or the people who love and care for them. Praying Seaside Heights has more sense than to listen to them. I personally won’t be going to the State Park and their boardwalk to support the town, despite my great love of the place, if Seaside officiials needlessly kill these cats. TNR WORKS WELL to reduce populations and cats do not suffer with reliable caregivers and insulated housing. Fighting in minimal when cats are fixed and comfortable in their areas as well, and resources are sufficient. People need to get on board with helping to catch and care for the cats instead of endlessly complaining about their presence, as is sadly too often, the case with all animal issues in NJ. Count me in as a TNR advocate for Seaside Heights, please.

  • SuziSaul

    Shut up, PETA, you murderers! You’ve been trying to shut down TNR, and instead want the cats KILLED. Your voice is not welcome in this discussion, and if anyone uses them as a flag waver for best animal practices, you are showing your ignorance! PETA wants the cats dead.

  • Judge and Jury

    I am impressed. I applaud PETA for a very correct stance. Cats (which are NOT wild animals) that roam the wild kill birds by the BILLIONS (according to Smithsonian and other highly reputable orgs) plus all the other negatives that PETA mentioned. PETA is now on my list of orgs I will donate to.

  • LauraLea Anderson

    Used to support PETA…until I read that they think feral/stray cats and stray dogs are better off dead!!! And they kidnapped and kill. Watched the video. You couldn’t pay me to support PETA. that being said, the cats in Seaside Heights need help and they deserve to live out their lives in peace. They keep rodent population down and if TNR’d, prevent other cats from joining their colony. Compassion for these cats needs to be shown!!!

  • kitcatkitty
    • Amy

      stop posting here troll!! Keep your ignorant bs to yourself….anyoine with a heart doesn’t want to hear your stupid comments!!!!

    • Emma

      Just another troll from somewhere besides Seaside or New Jersey. They must have a network that provides these loonies a link to TNR articles.

  • Linda DeFrino

    Obviously, there are many people stating things here that are not knowledgeable about TNR and it’s true impact on the reproduction of feral cats. Also, PETA hasn’t been mentioned or written about in a positive manner in forever. Those who say cats kill birds and other wildlife are uneducated and believe everything they read instead of going to the source for accuracy. It makes me sick, as well as other animal advocates; primarily cats. If those that think killing is better, I say they should be in charge of the killing and try to live with themselves. These hypocrits probably go to mass on Sunday, too.

    • kitcatkitty

      Uneducated huh? So I should believe you rather than peer-reviewed research by trained experts in related fields of wildlife biology, ecology, and conservation? I should believe you rather than scientists at Smithsonian and USFWS?

      • Linda DeFrino

        Let me ask you, when have you seen cats killing wildlife in masses? What is the biggest problem deteriorating our planet? It’s about how companies make products that poison our water, food, soil, wildlife, etc. so get educated. It’s not cats that are destroying this planet, it’s money hungry corporations that don’t give a crap about killing. Leave the damn cats alone. They aren’t big enough to do that much harm.

        • kitcatkitty

          You didn’t answer my question, but I will answer yours. In masses? One cat can extirpate native fauna from a given site. But, you can visit many wildlife rehabilitation centers to see the carnage. Seriously, you respond as though you have never owned a cat or have never seen a cat hunt. There is plenty of science to substantiate the decimation of wildlife by cats, but you can also wave a feathered toy near your pet to get a good idea. Well-fed or not, they hunt.

          Biggest problem is habitat loss – no argument there. Second is perhaps climate change. Now, if you are so bloody interested in getting educated, then start by reading the Annual Review document I posted that lists EVERY other substantial cause of wild bird mortality – from window strikes to pesticides to cats and more. They are ALL there – all studied – all documented. And cats are the leading direct HUMAN-related cause whether you accept that or not.

          Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women. If you get cancer, will you ignore that? We shouldn’t ignore cat predation either. We must address ALL causes of mortality for optimal health – whether we are talking about our bodies, or ecosystems. Your denial is beyond annoying.

          Go read the dang document and educate yourself. Get thee head out of thy bum. Your attempt to detract from this issue does not make the reality go away.

          • Amy

            bloody interested? where are you from??? Certainly not the Us, like I said you go work for PETA and euthanize some animals…if you can live with that, then your a sicker person than you seem, you are posting PETA numbers, THEY ARE KILLERS, if they got your dog, theyd put him to sleep. I feel sorry for your dog!!!!!

        • kitcatkitty
      • Emma

        This is a TNR troll. It spends their days searching the internet for articles about feral cats and TNR to write nonsense. They don’t live in Seaside or New Jersey. Ignore them.

  • Michelle

    This is terrible and Peta should be shut down totally, they are against anything that helps feral cats or animal rescues/sanctuaries. This is totally false and inaccurate, I will make sure to share this far and wide so that people who support TNR which is the most humane method of helping feral cats support keeping TNR in this area. Peta loves to get attention they only get involved when they can have their names out there for publicity