Opinion: Indian Harbour Beach Takes Step Backward

By  //  February 25, 2013

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Feral Cat Policy Sends Wrong Message

BREVARD COUNTY • INDIAN HARBOUR BEACH, FLORIDA – The recent measures enacted by Indian Harbour Beach against feral (free-roaming, community) cats and their caretakers will take Brevard County’s “No Kill” ordinance (passed in 2009 by the Brevard County Commission) 1,000 steps backward.  

It reverts to a cruel approach – starve and kill – that has never worked, rather than support a more humane one with proven results – Trap-Neuter-Return.

Once the feeding ban is in place, do you plan to let the cats starve to death or will Indian Harbour Beach capture and kill them?

Who is going to do that and who is going to pay this enormous expense?

Right now there are dedicated volunteers who spend thousands of dollars of their own money caring for free-roaming cats and trying to manage their numbers through the only effective method, rather than burdening the taxpayers with the expense of pointlessly rounding them up and killing them, or removing the carcasses after they starve.

Obviously that outdated approach doesn’t work or this would not be an issue now.

Indian Harbour Beach’s  action was predicated on inaccurate information and the complaints of a vocal minority.  How many people in Indian Harbour Beach have contracted or died from rabies due to a community cat?  What other diseases have residents contracted that have been proven to result from community cats?

Complaints about “copious amounts” of feces in parks are ridiculous, as dog droppings left by thoughtless and careless dog owners, are far more copious.  Shall we ban all dogs from public areas, or maybe just kill them too?

Cats in managed colonies avoid people and other animals unless defending themselves.  They may investigate an improperly sealed garbage can, but do so far less often than raccoons.  Shall we kill all the raccoons too?

A feeding ban forcing hungry cats to pursue any possible food source will seriously exacerbate what is now a rare problem.

Indian Harbour Beach has enacted an ordinance that makes ii illegal to possess, harbor, feed, breed, maintain or keep any feral animals on any public or private property located within the corporate boundaries of the city. (Shutterstock image)

Cats do not see human boundaries and cannot be constrained by them. Who is going to guard the boundaries of parks to prevent errant cats from crossing them, or will Indian Harbour Beach simply wait for them to cross the border and then snap them up to be killed?

Meanwhile, who is going to stop irresponsible people (let’s kill them too) from continuing to dump cats in parks or on the streets, where volunteers will still, at their own expense, try to control their population through Trap-Neuter-Return of the newcomers.  Just because a municipality is unable or unwilling to educate their population on responsible pet guardianship, and then require it, innocent animals should not pay with their lives, and good citizens trying to help out should not be punished.

As for the impact of free-roaming cats on wildlife, legitimate research has proven that development and habitat destruction is the major culprit causing significant declines in bird populations.  Shall we kill all the developers who have been responsible for the rampant development of Indian Harbour Beach, and the so-called civic leaders who allowed it?

Rodents and reptiles like lizards, not birds or turtles, are the free-roaming cat’s primary non-human-provided food source. If the “nuisance” cats are “removed,” how loudly will the complainers scream about the rat/rodent population explosion that will result?

And what about all the diseases transmitted by these rodents and their parasites.  Or will Indian Harbour Beach just round up all the rodents and kill them too?  Good luck.

What kind of message does it send to our children that taking the lives of innocent cats is the answer to a problem caused solely by irresponsible people? Perhaps Indian Harbour Beach should be defending effective, humane solutions (managed colony care and Trap-Neuter-Return, already endorsed by Brevard County), and supporting the efforts of caring citizens to make Indian Harbour Beach a better place for cats and people to live?

Far too much killing takes place in the world today and to kill even more with no good reason is shameful.

What kind of message does it send to our children that taking the lives of innocent cats is the answer to a problem caused solely by irresponsible people?  Perhaps Indian Harbour Beach should be defending effective, humane solutions (managed colony care and Trap-Neuter-Return, already endorsed by Brevard County), and supporting the efforts of caring citizens to make Indian Harbour Beach a better place for cats and people to live?

At the least, existing managed colonies should be “grandfathered” in and allowed to remain.

There are viable solutions.  Education, especially of children about responsible pet guardianship including sterilization of all cats and dogs, is crucial.  There are many good people working hard to manage feral cat populations.

Many more are willing and able to help mediate disputes regarding community cats.  There are already plans by Brevard Animal Services to institute this process on a county level.

Indian Harbour Beach should not be instituting backwards, ineffective, cruel and inhumane approaches like feeding bans and colony restrictions, which cannot be enforced anyway.  It is a sad commentary that  the “leaders” of Indian Harbour Beach still believe that killing is the answer to the problem of animal overpopulation and are willing to undermine Brevard County’s No Kill resolution out of ignorance or cowardice.

People working together can and will always make a difference!  I am asking the leaders of Indian Harbour Beach to please open up your hearts and rethink your decision about free-roaming cats.

Let’s find new ways to help these animals, other animals and people.

Let’s send the right message to our children about the value of life. Let’s not waste the taxpayers’ hard-earned money.  Ask, and you will have an army of good people come forward to help.


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9 Comments on "Opinion: Indian Harbour Beach Takes Step Backward"

  1. Marie Prescott February 25, 2013 at 8:22 pm · Reply

    How crazy is this. I know in Cocoa Beach there are dedicated people who trap spay and release feral cats, find homes for the kittens, feed care and love these poor cats. Surely this is a more humane solution to the problem. I agree that schools should educate the next generation how to care for these cats. Maybe there would not be so many irresponsible people around who just let these pets loose when they become fed up with them. You take on a cat or dog for at least ten years…. Why don’t people realize this.

  2. Susan R February 26, 2013 at 8:05 am · Reply

    I will inform others of this decision by IHB and I will support a total boycot of IHB. From now on, IHB will just be a community I’ll be passing through, not on where I want to stop and spend my money. There are plenty of others restaurants and shops elsewhere. Shame on you IHB!

  3. Judith Weaver February 26, 2013 at 10:44 am · Reply

    What a horrendous example to set for the people and children of Indian Harbour Beach! I hope at the next election the citizens will throw out the current Council members and Mayor and elect people who are humane and decent.

  4. Yvonne LeBris February 26, 2013 at 1:18 pm · Reply

    I agree with Susan R. Let’s boycott IHB. We will not visit your restaurants or shops. I will not spend a penny in IHB. See how it feels to “starve”……….

  5. Brenda February 26, 2013 at 1:19 pm · Reply

    I hope that the IHB community will see these comments and will reconsider, it’s archaic, inhuman response. Please let the Feral Cat Society, volunteers resolve any issues at a specific site that ur concerned citizens complained about . I have found homes for over 30 cats over the years and most of these cats came from “loving homes” at one time and have been abandoned. Most feral cats can be hand tamed and make great house cats, and also do perform an invalueable service that is unseen. Please reconsider ur actions that are inhuman.

  6. Ralph L. February 27, 2013 at 7:57 pm · Reply

    Perhaps we should do as Desiree W. suggested not to long ago and start an Ad Campaign to inform the many tourists that visit the Space Coast about the “Not So Animal Friendly” community of Indian Harbour Beach and encourage supporters to boycott IHB businesses as Susan R. suggests, BUT make sure to tell those merchants why you will no longer support them. As Desiree suggested – “Hit ’em where it hurts – the wallet!”

  7. Pat February 27, 2013 at 8:31 pm · Reply

    How sad & heartless! These cats don’t have a choice. What about all the homeless people out there, who actually do have more choices than the cats, I suppose we should starve and kill them too??? Shame on anyone who has anything to do with this idea. I too will no longer shop, dine, buy gas, etc. from businesses in Indian Harbour Beach if this goes through, and I will continue to feed any cats I see. Let’s teach every generation how to be thoughtful, caring and humane. If these cats are trapped and neutered, they won’t continue to multiply. It’s that easy. Let’s not make these poor animals suffer any more than they already do. Take a stand, people! Don’t let Indian Harbour Beach kill these innocent creatures of God! What kind of world do we live in???

  8. Debby February 27, 2013 at 10:19 pm · Reply

    How upsetting. It is certainly not the cats’ fault. Humans are the ones that dump them out there, usually not fixed and let them multiply and fend for themselves. Just last week I came home to find a cat in my yard, he was hungry and crying and maybe 9 months old. He wasn’t one of my feral cats, they are all fixed. There were 3 feral cats when I bought my house, I took on the responsibility of caring for them. I took them to the vet, I feed them twice a day, I make sure they have clean water. They did not just spring up from the soil….somebody dumped them ; just like I wonder if someone dumped this little guy that just showed up. I do some work with a no-kill non-profit and I have heard some really amazing things. I got called to one neighborhood to help trap, but the neighborhood men didn’t want the male cats fixed…only the females. How does that make sense? I have had people call me and tell me that if I don’t come pick up their cat, they’ll dump them in the shelter. The last two we rescued from the shelter were 3 days old with no mother…they just showed up. My husband and I were up every couple of hours feeding them, and they made it. I would implore IHB to change their tune about the feral cats. The non-profits in the area have trapped, neutered and released a large amount at no cost to IHB. Otherwise, I would ask that every cat lover, every responsible pet owner in the area NOT frequent their establishments to send a strong message. It is people that dump animals that should be punished, not the animals that they dump. If you think that the shelter can handle all of these animals, you are sadly mistaken. They do the best they can, but if you ever visit there and look at the euthanasia rate you will understand. You would be effectively killing all of these cats. We work on the method of attrition, if we fix them they will not reproduce. Eventually the numbers will decline. So where is the problem? It is people who don’t feel responsible for the pets that they own. If you can’t care for them, find someone who can. Don’t just toss them out. They are living beings and deserve respect.

  9. Barbara Nielsen February 27, 2013 at 10:24 pm · Reply

    For many years I have used the practices of Brevard County to measure the efforts in my home on Long Island,NY. The network of caregivers, rescue groups and other individuals working together to prevent the birth of kittens who would have no homes is wonderful. The government has allowed the system to work . Colonies stay stable UNTIL the public unloads unwanted, unspayed/unneutered animals in the public domain.
    Rather than starve and punish the animals, the people need to be responsible owners. A pet is a lifetime commitment not a disposable stuffed toy. Spay and neuter, keep your pet inside and love it!

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