Friday, September 10, 2010

back to: feeding ferals cats around Crispus Attucks Park

See this latest Email exchange from the Bloomingdale resident whose rear faces Crispus Attucks Park -- on the 2000 block of 1st Street NW, east side:

Ms. Lunaris:

Obviously you have no clue whatsoever as to what I have been experiencing for several years now due the presence of feral cats and wild life on my property. I did not see where you attempted to address the products that the cats have been leaving on my property (poop) for several years now. This is a health hazard to me and my family. The cats and wild life, because of the food sources near my home now choose to live on and under my deck. It is in fact a health hazard, loss of quality of life and nuisance “to me and my family”. I am allergic to cats, and asthmatic. When a cat was found finally having gotten into my home and is found sleeping in my bed, do you not think this is not a health hazard. A dirty filthy smelly cat, these cats do have fleas and in some cases the hair is falling off… Ms. Hille said to me, when I called to express my concerns “well you left the door open”! Where was the concern for my health? If you in fact believe that the cats are being monitored and cared for by Alley Cat Allies where I live, you are mistaken and that is an overstatement.

Food continues to be left out in large quantities every day all day. This practice not only attracts cats but other wildlife. The feral cats and other wildlife then live near the source of the food. It’s just that simple. I witness these animals practically every day coming into my yard and living on and under my deck. Poop on my private property and in my plant containers is unacceptable and yes a health problem for me. Am I expected to continue to clean up after them? Each time I ask the question (and there have been many) of who cleans up after the animals, there is dead SILENCE on the ISSUE. I haven’t heard the ANSWER! Maybe since Alley Cat Allies are monitoring the cats, they can swing by my home and check of the rear door of my basement and take care of that poop problem. How about that! Is poop a public health problem and hazard when left not cleaned up day in and day out? Do I have full access and enjoyment of my home to my own deck (the table which I would like to eat upon) and property where I PAY taxes? I think NOT. Not another time. Not another year will I endure this. I have been quoted the law by the city officials and heard the explanations given by the Washington Humane Society for too many years. Just live with them! Basically. Yet neighbors continue to feed and feed year in and year out. What about my rights to enjoy my home and use my property as I choose? Quite frankly at this point I do not care how others feel one way or the other whether they are being affected or not. This is now a self-centered issue around me and my family.

The Mayor Fenty himself viewed the situation during a Bloomingdale community walkthrough said two years ago, take care of this situation. I didn’t have to say ONE word, the cats were all over my deck and back yard! It has NOT been resolved. This is ONE DC government I am NOT calling around to find a final lasting resolution. That is precisely why I pay taxes.This is your JOB and responsibility, and no one has gotten the JOB DONE to my satisfaction. The Humane Society, Mr. Giacoppo does address wildlife (after a raccoon decided it wanted to live on my deck too) and has been to my home more than once. No more calls, emails and meetings. Make no mistake. I will be taking legal action. BTW I saw a baby opossum (where is the litter) wondering around last nite next door. ENOUGH!

From: Lunaris, Molly (DOH)
Sent: Friday, September 10, 2010 12:20 PM
To: Resident on the 2000 block of 1st St NW, east side
Cc: Vigilance, Pierre (DOH); Leonard, Kimberly (DOH); Woldu, Feseha (DOH); Hille, Maria (DOH);; Scott Giacoppo; Bridget Speiser; 'Alyson Burgess'
Subject: Feral and Wild Animals in your neighborhood

Good Afternoon,

I’ve been asked to respond to your inquiries about feral and wild animals in your neighborhood.

Feeding feral cats is not illegal in the District so long as such feeding does not attract rats. That is why the community is encouraged to feed only for a short period of time. 10 minutes is an arbitrary about of time that is suggested by feral cat management organizations such as Alley Cat Allies and the Washington Humane Society. The feeder is supposed to pick up any remaining food after the cats finish eating so that any leftovers don’t attract rats or wildlife. It sounds like your neighbor’s take that responsibility seriously and are encouraging those who may be less vigilant to improve their performance to prevent problems. You referenced a serious health problem because of the cats. The Department of Health has not received reports of sick cats, rabies or other diseases transmitted by animals from the neighborhood.

As you may also be aware, the Animal Control Act (8-1802(c)2)) requires the District to “promote the utilization of trap, spay or neuter, and return practices as a means of controlling the feral cat population; provided, that all efforts shall be made to adopt out a trapped, tamable kitten.” My understanding is that the cats you are referring to have been sterilized, vaccinated, and are monitored by the community to ensure that the cats remain healthy. The monitoring includes feeding.

Sterilizing and releasing feral cats is best practices in feral cat management. Trapping and killing animals invites new feral cats into the neighborhood, the new, unsterilized cats reproduce and the population explodes. Because cats are highly territorial, sterilized cats keep new cats out and reduce the population over time.

I understand that Ms. Hille, who you have worked with in the past, has followed up with the known feeders in the neighborhood and issued abatement notices requiring them to cease feeding practices that may cause a public health nuisance.

In your e-mail, you also mention a wildlife problem. The Mayor has not mandated DOH with wildlife management. Wildlife management is DDOE’s Fisheries and Wildlife Division’s domain. That division can be reached by calling Ms. Becky Ackerson at 202-727-4726. If the Department of Health receives reports of sick or injured wildlife, or wildlife actively threatening a resident, animal control can go out; however, the mere presence of a wild animal in the neighborhood does not indicate a public health problem.


Molly Lunaris
Program Specialist Animal Disease Prevention Division
DC Department of Health Government of the District of Columbia
825 North Capitol Street, NE
Suite 8001 Washington, DC 20002
Office: (202) 535-2508
Mobile: (202) 380-6603
Fax: (202) 535-1359


Elizqueenmama said...

I bet the baby possum went back to his littermates and said "I saw a bunch of HUMANS around our backyard tonight! ENOUGH!!"

Anonymous said...

Flager PL NW Resident

To me this sounds like someone that isn't really maintaining their property properly, in which case I really have zero sympathy because it sounds like this has been a problem for years... It isn't necessarily the cats that are the problem here, but the home owner. If your doors and windows are broken, then fix them. If you can't fix them yourself, then hire someone to fix them. If you can't afford to hire someone to fix them, then save up some money and fix them in time. If you can't save up money, then you need a change of lifestyle and home, because broken doors/windows are going to be a minor home improvement projects down the road.

Or maybe just ask a neighbor or friend to come over and help out. When I first moved into my home, there was the smell of cat feces throughout the backyard and it was more or less clogging up the drains in the backyard too. After cleaning up, and closing off any entrances for the feral cats to enter my backyard, I have not seen a feral cat in my yard again.

It sounds like you would enjoy your property a lot more if you made some simple efforts. Probably also create a safer home too, free of animals and maybe even strangers from sleeping in your bed....

Anonymous said...

This is great example of the total disregard for other people and their property displayed by the idiots who feed cats running around our city! To the resident dealing with this crap (and poop!), my heart goes out to you... I have been in the same situation and simply trapped and removed the cats from my property in Virginia -- used a live trap and brought them to the animal shelter. I understand that the Washington Humane Society is an open-intake shelter; if that's true, you should be able to bring them the cats you trap and they should put them in the shelter. I know it sounds like a pain but it's actually really easy... I experienced a lot of frustration before I started doing it, but it worked like a charm and I was able to permanently remove the cats from my property -- one of the best things I ever did -- my family and I can enjoy it now and if I hadn't, a bunch of cats would be lurking around instead, killing animals and leaving the corpses around and pooping everywhere and fornicating and breeding... nasty! People who feed these cats say they are "compassionate" which I find incredibly ironic -- they have no compassion for their neighbors and no genuine compassion for the cats, who live disgusting lives and die horrible deaths. Take matters into your own hands, as obviously these morons at DOH don't understand the situation and won't help you! Good luck!

Scott Roberts of Bloomingdale said...

See this 09/16/2010 Email to the resident on 1st Street NW:

Dear Resident of the 2000 Block of 1st Street NW, Eastside Whose Rear Faces Crispus Attucks Park:

Whenever I`ve had an opportunity I visit the block in question. Thanks to Mr. Salatti and DPW I have seen an improvement in trash and rubbish in the yards. Bulky items, large potted plants, overgrowth along the fence line generally provide enough cover to animals. Recently during my two visits I have looked into the back yards of most of the properties along your block and have not seen any cat food servings since the time I issued a violation notice to one party.

Mr. Salatti , per my conversation with a resident, there is a problem with the bulky items, trash and fence overgrowth at 86 V St. NW.


Maria Hille
Program Manager / Bureau of Community Hygiene / HRLA
DC Department of Health / Animal Disease Prevention / Government of the District of Columbia
825 North Capitol St., NE / Suite 8026
Washington DC 20002
Office: (202) 535 -1952
Mobile:(202) 380 - 6944
Fax: (202) 535 -1359
maria.hille @ /

Scott Roberts of Bloomingdale said...

And read this response from ANC 5C04 Commissioner John Salatti:

Dear Ms. Hille,

Yes, I have seen the problem you describe near 86 V and am moving to have it corrected.

I also concur that the residents at 2023 who were overfeeding the cats have stopped feeding entirely. Likewise, the person who was feeding cats in the alley between the unit blocks of V and W Streets now understands a more acceptable form of feeding and has cutback on the food and amount of time it put out.

We have also seen a marked decrease in raccoons in the neighborhood, although I do hear about the occasional opossum.

Thank you for your help.

John T. Salatti
Commissioner, ANC 5C04
(202) 986- 2592
“Together, Building a Better Bloomingdale"

K.L. said...

I would like to address a few misconceptions:

(1) These cats do NOT "live disgusting lives and die horrible deaths". It is common for them to live - and stay healthy - into their teens ... a normal life span for a domestic cat.

By that time, usually they have come to generally trust their caretakers ... and sometimes other human beings as well. The households of most caretakers I know include at least one elderly colony member who has been brought inside to live out his remaining years.

Also, if it's humanly possible, they are taken in for veterinary treatment if they become ill. Sometimes this can be iffy, because cats tend to hide when they're sick.

(2) DC rowhouses are particularly hospitable to raccoons - who love high places - because they can usually gain access to an entire block's rooftops via one tree or balcony ... not that they can't scale brick or climb downspouts if they need to.

They can usually find at least one or two building access points in any given block: an unsealed plumbing access point; a fascia/soffit in need of repair, an unused, uncapped chimney (which, if crumbling, may give them access to the cockloft); etc. However, they tend to only enter buildings either when (a) scouting for a winter den, in late fall/early winter (b) in search of water, during an extended drought.

Other than that, most residents don't know they're around unless they spot them at night or go out in the morning and see tidy little holes in their yards from where the raccoons have been digging for insects. Raccoons will also kill and eat rats/mice - and occasionally pigeons. Although they CAN develop a taste for pet kibble once they've tried it, their most frequent bonanzas come from unsecured supercans and dumpsters.

Also, though few admit it, some people secretly feed raccoons ... to the raccoons' detriment, since they are truly wild and do very well without human assistance, especially in places like DC which are perfect habitats for them.

(3) Possums, which are also prevalent in DC, prefer to stay closer to the ground and are especially drawn to vacant buildings, particularly if they can get into the basement. Opossums like fruits and vegetables along with their insects. They don't need that much protein, although they do seem to relish cat food - maybe because of its high fat content.

(4) A lot of people associate the term "population density" only with human beings living in big cities. But where a lot of people cluster together, those creatures who thrive around human beings will also exist in abundance. No matter how uninviting we make our outside areas, we cannot assume they will stay away completely ... which is, after all, as it should be.

If the moon is colonized someday, perhaps anthropocentrists will have found their dream location. Meanwhile, since we cannot survive as this planet's sole residents, we need to accept our non-human fellow voyagers and respect the roles they play.

(5) Alley Cat Allies does not feed alley cats. It serves as an advocate for free-roaming cats and promotes Trap-Neuter-Return[-Monitor]. But it does not feed them. All feeding is done by volunteer caretakers.

It is regrettable that the situation described above has been allowed to deteriorate so far. If anyone else experiences a similar problem, I strongly urge him/her to determine who is feeding the cats and explain the issue(s) in straightforward, non-emotional language. Righteous indignation may feel good for a minute, but it does nothing (at best) toward solving any cat-related problems.

Anonymous said...

KL, you ARE a misconception! If you want to feed cats, feed 'em on your own property -- don't inflict them on poor victims like the man who just wants his OWN HOUSE AND PROPERTY to himself! You have no right to ruin this for him! Plus, those cats are killing "our fellow voyagers" in unbelievable numbers -- I've seen it happen, they kill the birds and other beautiful animals my kids and I love so much and there are too freeking many of them and as this man has experienced, people like YOU just help create more cat-related problems, ruining the world for the rest of us! Wake up and learn to be truly respectful and kind!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to chime in about the raccoons with a little truth one of the commenters above left out of their ode to raccons. Raccoons transmit rabies, and unless all of these feral cats are innoculated annually, and kept inside for 28 days, they have the potential to transmit rabies after tangling with an infected racoon.

Anonymous said...

The keepers of the feral cat colonies are over-feeding the cats. Have you looked at some of the cats in the alleys in Bloomingdale? If there's a BMI for cats, then these mugs are morbidly obese. Fat, fat, fat. some of them are so obese that they have to work to scramble under fences and climb up them. So let me get this straight. You're "helping" these feral cats by feeding them, but you're over-feeding them. Thereby, turning healthy animals into unhealthy ones, giving them chronic illnesses, and actually shortening their life spans. Way to go! If you want to be responsible, be responsible.

Anonymous said...

Ignorance is strength. Happy to see Bloomingdale has a lot of strong neighbors.

Entitlement is strength too...