East Bay Regional Park District is shooting cats

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I urge you to go to abc7news  to learn about Dan Noyes' investigation into the recent shootings of stray cats that were carried out by members of the staff at East Bay Regional Park District.

I do not dispute the fact that feral and abandoned cats pose a serious threat to wildlife.  I do not disagree with EBRPD's stance that native wildlife should be protected.  I am writing this petition because this is a complex issue that is being addressed all over the country, and there are strategies that other groups and agencies are employing that are both more humane and more effective than EBRPD's policy of shooting and killing cats.

When I moved to California, I started volunteering at the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands.  I also trained as a docent, and then became a licensed wildlife rehabilitator while working and volunteering at Lindsey Wildlife Experience (then Lindsey Wildlife Museum) in Walnut Creek.  It was only years later that I became a veterinary nurse (RVT), and even longer than that before I adopted my first cat.  I write this to emphasize that I am aware of and sympathetic to both sides of the conflict, and that I care deeply about the welfare of all the animals caught up within it: wild animals, feral cats, abandoned cats, lost cats; even the human animals who are passionately devoted to one "faction" or the other.

The East Bay Regional Park District has their values posted on their website.  They claim they "address challenges with empathy, perspective, and determination."  They write "our greatest strength lies in the trust, accountability, and teamwork we cultivate with our colleagues, partners, and the public we serve." They further claim that they "communicate openly, honestly, and reliably," and that they provide "access to timely and reliable information on decisions and performance."

I ask you to join me in asking EBRPD to honor their own values.  

Where was their empathy when they sent rangers out with guns?

Where was the teamwork they cultivate with their colleagues and partners when they carried this out without consulting with a single shelter or rescue group?  

How can they claim that they communicate openly and honestly with the public they serve when they (separately and on more than one occasion) told Cecelia and another colony caretaker that they had not killed the cats, but had taken them to shelters in Oakland and Dublin?  Most of the colony cats were not only spayed, neutered and vaccinated - they were also microchipped by Fix Our Ferals.  Had even a single one arrived alive at any shelter or veterinary hospital, they would have immediately been scanned for chips, and the organization would have been notified.  Even knowing that to be true, Cecelia and the other caretaker held out hope and spoke with both shelters.  Needless to say, neither had received any cats from EBRPD.  As Oakland Animal Services' Director Ann Dunn made clear when interviewed by ABC7, she wasn't even aware of the cats because EBRPD never consulted with OAS or any other shelter or rescue group.

If EBRPD truly provides access to timely and reliable information on their decisions, why is it that they still haven't supplied any records documenting any of the killings, carried out on multiple occasions, in multiple parts of the district, even though ABC7's team filed a California Public Records Act request for these documents?

Matt Graul, EBRPD's Chief of Stewardship, claims that he and his staff "feel horrible about this" and that they "really don't want to ever have to take this step."  Perhaps it was as OAS Director Ann Dunn said, and EBRPD were unaware that Oakland Animal Services were a resource.  Perhaps they were also unaware of FAAS (Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter), and they didn't know about ICRA (Island Cat Resources and Adoption).  None were ever contacted by EBRPD, and all three organizations immediately pledged to help when they were made aware of what EBRPD was doing.  Assuming that park officials truly felt horrible, assuming they truly saw no other way, assuming they had the best of intentions but simply didn't know that they had allies and options -- assuming all that to be true, then why did they tell Dan Noyes that they would not pledge to stop shooting cats?

Again, I hope you will join me in asking East Bay Regional Park District to honor their own values.  I have never met Cecelia, but several months ago, she humanely trapped two cats and their two kittens.  The adult male was neutered, the adult female was spayed; they were both vaccinated and microchipped and returned to their colony.  The two kittens ended up being fostered by me.  It is their photo that is attached to this petition.  They have since been adopted together into a loving home, where they are providing comfort and joy to a family and their sixteen-year-old cat who were all grieving the recent loss of their other senior cat.  Those kittens' parents were shot and killed by EBRPD.  When I was made aware of what had happened, I will admit I was extraordinarily angry; I was deeply disappointed in EBRPD, and I was truly heartbroken.  Just as Ann Dunn said, I too am still heartbroken "just knowing that there's no reason (these shootings) needed to happen."  I am still heartbroken, but more than anything I am very determined to do what I can to ensure that this doesn't happen again.  Please sign my petition and ask EBRPD to work with all the rescue groups and individuals who have stepped up and offered their help and their resources.  Please ask them to pledge to stop shooting cats.