Tunnel Snakes and Infected Felines

Posted on July 21, 2011

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     Kingston appears to be blogging down, stuck like a Smart Car in hot tar.   Things are moving slower than traffic on Broadway which is partially closed in two places.

       As I already posted, I have been a member of the Mayor’s CATS Task Force since last fall.  The Task Force was charged with finding an alternative to a proposed law regulating feral cats in the city of Kingston.  The mayor vetoed that law as unenforcable.  the Task Force, under the leadership of Jean Jacobs, has been meeting monthly to duscuss how best to discharge their charge by the mayor.

        As I wrote before, at every meeting since this spring,  (And they were all attended by the City Clerk) I brought up the fact that there was an ever-growing feral colony in a city building.  In point of fact, this is one of the oldest coloies in Kingston.  “Professor Pendergast”, a well-known Kingston vagrant, used to feed 22 cats around the dumpster near the current colony.   In March I had watched as four tiny kittens that looked more like bobkittens than domestic cats, tore into the trash bags that the city had not removed from their own building.  They were totally wild, and they would run in terror if a shadow fell acrsss them.  In order to spare the garbage, we were throwing them bits of food, and they became quite tame.  Very tame.   Sit down, you got a lapful of orange kittens.

         I already wrote about my heartbreaking discovery that my favorite kitten in the group was infected with both Feline Leukemia and  Feline AIDS.  I had taken him to be neutered as a part of TSR, and he had been killed for 5 hours before I learned his status.  I posted my findings here and on our sister Facebook site. 

       Ironically, this tragedy happened the night that CATS was to give their final report to the Laws and Rules Committee of the City of Kingston.  I would say, conservatively, that the report was not well received by the committee.  I would say they found it lacking in specifics–little things like how the proposed program was to be funded.  I was successful in introducing my revised version of the original law.   Apparently  what I was not successful in doing is clarifying what the city intends to do about its own colony of several dozen potentially infectious cats.

    Dr. Rugg has offered to test the cats at no expence to the city.  all that is needed is for the cats to be taken to  his Animal Hospital about 10 blocks away.  We immediately heard how HARD, how IMPOSSIBLE it is to trap feral cats.  There is no polite way to say this.   BULLPOOP!!!!!  I had four yellow kittens fighting to get into a carrier full of treats!  These cats will go indoors, these cats can be picked up, these cats come when called, and there is no need even to trap them.  Just fill the carriers with food and shut the door when they go in.   If a 70-year-old disabled woman can catch one, the city animal control officer, a strong young man, ought to have no problem at all.  If he is having a problem, maybe he is in the wrong profession.

     Time is of the essence, because one of the yellow kittens is pregnant.  If she is infected and allowed to give birth, her kittens will be born immune defective.   Also this is a densely populated area, and people allow their domestic cats to join the ferals at the restaurant dumpster for food.  If there is any exchange of bodily fluids, people’s pets will be infected with these two incurable fatal diseases.

         In the eyes of the law, cats are “property” and a cat has no more value than its retail cost.   However if a cat harbored by the city were to infect a domestic pet, the city could be liable for the medical care for that cat for the rest of its life.  And, as people keep reminding me, cats can live a long and relitively normal life with immune deficientcies.  It takes lots of care and medical intervetions similar to those  persribed for people with AIDS.  And, of course, the cat remains infectious to other cats for that entire long and  relitively normal life.  I have proof that the city did know of the risk, and if they do nothing, that is clear-cut negligence.

        While the contagious kittens are playing in the sun and breeding and fighting with other cats in the neighborhood, the tunnel snakes are devouring Levan Street.   “Tunnel Snakes” is a neighborhood joke for the cause of the persistant and unrepaired massive sinkholes opening up all along the street.     Two months ago the Cruz Family had a little dent in their driveway.   It opened into a little pothole.  They put a little ornage cone over it.   It consumed the orange cone.   They put a trash can over the hole.   The trash can fell in the hole.  It is now so deep in the sinkhole that only the lid is visible.   Obviously, they have lost the use of their driveway.   Across Levan Street, a cone marks a sinkhole that has resisted all efforts to fill it for close to 30 years.   Isabelle Malone paid, it has been reported, $10,000 to have her water main repaired because the city said the sinkhole was her fault.  It had reopened even before she died.   The house has now sold to Stuart and James.  Stuart has reported that the city  told him the sewer under Levan Street carries all the waste from Benedictine Hospital and Kingston High School, nd that it is obviously failing.   The city claims to be waiting for a camera.   Meanwhile, before our fascinated eyes, the trash can is  slowly sinking out of sight into the Lair of the Tunnel Snakes.  If  a vehicle, child, or animal is swallowed up by the hole, then it will be a lot less funny, and it isn’t even funny now.    Somehow the city has the money to paint white stripes all over the street and carry out endless repaving efforts on Broadway, but they can’t spare one afternoon to  catch and test  a few dozen cats being harbored in a city building?   They can’t find a camera, as  a city sewer collapses in slow motion?  I was glad to meet the city Corporation Consel at the meeting Tuesday night.   I have a strange feeling she is going to be very busy.

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