- Cynthia TampkinsWarden
- Jackie MartinProgram Director of Feral Alley Cat & Friends SPCA
Prison to Not Be Allowed to Rid Grounds of Feral Cats
Feral Alley Cats & Friends SPCA opposes feeding bans for feral cats. These bans are inherently cruel and do not come close to achieving their intended goals.
Mistreatment is a common complaint at prisons, but at California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, the alleged target is not the inmates. It’s the cats. Some current and former prison employees are accusing administrators of handing the feral cats — more than 100 of them — a death sentence. While the prison hopes that catching the cats and taking them to an animal shelter will give them a chance to be adopted, prison employees fear they’re more likely to be euthanized. The first step, already taken by the prison, was to stop feeding them on the prison grounds.
In the past, prison employees brought pet food to work and fed cats that roamed the 98-acre facility during breaks or lunch. Staff volunteers formed a Kitty Committee. The committee worked with the warden’s office to ensure cats were humanely treated, received medical care, and were trapped for neutering or spaying. The cats have had a positive impact on prisoners. Inmates also fed the cats, offering tuna or pieces of ham from their sack lunches. Inmates who did this often became attached to the cats. Some of the most hardened criminals would confide to staff that they surprised themselves at how much they cared, citing how their lifestyles and years of prison had hardened their hearts. By the time Tampkins became warden in September 2012, feedings had become sporadic. Sometimes the cats went three or four days without being officially fed. The cats survived on the kindness of the inmates.
The administration wanted the cats to seek their own food off prison grounds out in the community. But most of these cats were born in the prison. They did not leave the grounds as layers of fences make it difficult for the cats to leave. There is a concern for the inmates as well as the cats. The cats were really rehabilitative for the inmates, very therapeutic. They are distressed because of what’s happening.
The new actions, Tampkins said were prompted by an inspection by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Inspectors told the prison that having cats that could carry diseases could cause a health hazard, was a “general violation,” and that the prison would be cited if the felines were not removed. Peter Melton, a CAL-OSHA spokesman, said no report has been issued, and would not be for a few weeks. “We would not be advocating extermination, but a program of control,” he said.
Until a determination has been made by this report, the feral cat population should still be fed.
- Program Director of Feral Alley Cat & Friends SPCA
I would like to ask that you continue to feed the feral cats on the prison grounds for good and not to initiate any more feeding bans again as you have not received an actual written report from CAL-OSHA as of yet. However, the best decision for the feral cats is that the Prison to Not Be Allowed to Rid the Grounds of Feral Cats. If you are practicing Trap-Neuter-Return, the cat population will continue to downsize over the years and take care of itself.
I am concerned about the welfare of the free-roaming cats kept at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, California, where a feeding ban went on from June 5th to July 3rd 2013 which was unnecessary, very cruel and inhumane. I want all the feeders put back up so that all the cats have food and water at all times.
There are several successful programs around the country in which cats are cared for by staff and inmates, with the cats’ numbers controlled through trap/neuter/return (TNR). Such efforts have proven enormously beneficial to humans and cats alike.
I urge you to not initiate any more feeding bans at CRC Norco Prison, and implement a rigorous TNR program at the facility.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter,
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