Cat Fanatic Proves You Can Fight City Hall

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Here’s a question for you. Do you think the government (town, city, county or state) should be allowed to regulate how many pets you have?

Personally I have mixed feelings on the topic. On one hand I think it’s a great way to prevent hoarding — as long as the laws are actually enforced before things get out of hand. I also think it’s a good way to encourage responsible pet ownership — even if it can’t guarantee that people will treat their pets properly.

And then there’s the rebellious part of me. This is the part that says, “Wait just a minute. How dare you tell me how many pets I can have?”

Fighting city hall — and winning

Apparently a Utah man feels the same way. As recently reported in The Salt Lake Tribune, a West Valley City resident has two black cats and wanted to get another one. But when he went to the local animal shelter to get one, he learned that he couldn’t because of a city regulation limiting the number of cats and dogs residents could have to two per household.

Furr-911 rescues Hurricane Harvey kittens.
Hurricane Harvey kittens make an appearance at Puttin’ on the Dog festival, courtesy of FURR-911. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

When he learned the only way to change that was to convince the city to change the rules, he took the challenge seriously. And after six months of lobbying, his persistence finally paid off.

Earlier this month, the City Council unanimously passed an amended ordinance that “would allow for pet owners to apply for a permit to have up to four cats or dogs.” However, the restriction pertaining to the total number of pets is unchanged, meaning that residents still can’t have four cats and four dogs. An exception to the limit for kittens and puppies up to 4-months old is also unchanged.

A matter of personal preference

As it stands, I have had cats since I was 10. But the only time I had more than one was when my ex and I were married. And I’ll be honest. Having two cats in a small apartment was an adventure, especially since my cat was the alpha.

After I got divorced, Heals came home with me. She also moved to Virginia with me, and live there for three years before she died of cancer in 2007. I was still living in Virginia when I got Eli in 2008 and I’ve had him ever since. Sometimes I think about getting another one — but it wouldn’t be fair to him — or to me, for that matter.

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat.

For one thing, Eli is a “pit bull in a cat costume.” He is loyal, affectionate, and super-smart. But because he was abused before I adopted him, he is very easily triggered and acts accordingly. You’d think that he would mellow out as he gets older, especially since he’s been in a stable, loving environment for so long. As it turns out, that’s wishful thinking. Finding ways to address his redirected aggression is an ongoing process.

Secondly, having a cat is expensive. Or should I say, having this cat is expensive. There’s food, and cat litter, and vet bills. Oh, the vet bills. And because Eli is such a handful, I have to take him to the vet to have his claws clipped every three months. At $23 and change for each trimming, even that adds up.

Not to mention that I’m busy and I travel. So the bottom line for me is that — as much as I love cats — I don’t think I’ll ever have more than one at a time again.

How about you? Do you have pets? How many? How many is “too many?” I’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to comment.

There Is No Punishment Harsh Enough In Kitten Drowning Case

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As many of you know I was a police reporter for more than 20 years. In my career I covered everything from the aftermath of 9/11 in the New York City suburbs to homicides, courthouse shootings and airplane crashes. So I’ve seen a lot of nasty stuff. To this day, I can’t forget those things. I never will.

And to this day, nothing makes my blood boil more than an animal cruelty case. As far as I’m concerned, there is no punishment harsh enough for anyone who deliberately hurts or kills an animal. I mean think about it. If someone is sick and twisted enough to hurt or kill an animal, they probably won’t think twice about hurting or killing a human being.

Alleged kitten killer arrested

So if what I recently about Junsong Zhang, 21, of Queens, New York, is actually true, they should just lock him up and get rid of the key. Now.

According to published reports, Zhang killed two kittens on January 22, 2019. He allegedly did so by putting them in a cage, putting the cage in the bathtub, turning on the tap, and leaving for nearly an hour.

As Zhang reportedly told authorities, the animals were “lying in the water and not breathing.” So he allegedly put them in a plastic bag and took them to the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

In a criminal complaint cited by the New York Daily News, a forensic veterinarian said both kittens were “healthy, and that one kitten had torn nails on its right front paw, left front paw and right back paw.”

A postmortem assessment confirmed that the kittens had drowned. They were just seven months old.

New York City prosecutors told the media that Zhang intended to “cause extreme physical pain” to the animals. As a result, he was arrested earlier this month and charged with two counts of aggravated animal cruelty.

Zhang was reportedly “released under supervision” and ordered to surrender his passport pending future court appearances.

Possible punishment upon conviction

Under Section 353-a of New York’s Agriculture and Markets Law, someone is guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals when he or she, “intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury to a companion animal with aggravated cruelty.” In this context, aggravated cruelty is defined as conduct that: “(i) is intended to cause extreme physical pain;  or (ii) is done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner.”

Aggravated cruelty to animals is a felony in New York. The maximum punishment upon conviction is two years in prison.

And as far as I’m concerned, that’s just not good enough.

Happy (belated) International Cat Day

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For those of you who missed it, yesterday was International Cat Day — also known as World Cat Day.

So on behalf of Eli and In Brief Legal Writing Services, Happy (belated) International Cat Day, everyone! I hope that you and your cats enjoyed it!

Charles Dickens quotation about cats.
Famous quotation about cats. Photo by Alexandra Boganovic

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to celebrate, have no fear. There’s always next year. And for those of you who didn’t know about it, here’s some background information about this special day dedicated to the coolest cats on the face of the planet.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare created International Cat Day in 2002. Since then, it has been observed as a way to honor our “feline friends” and “advocate for cats.” Specifically, it is an opportunity to:

  • Adopt a cat from a local shelter or rescue group
  • Visit a cat cafe
  • Donate to a charity that focuses on cats

Of course, it’s important to make donations to pet-focused charities whenever we can. And of course it’s always better to adopt a companion animal than to buy one. It also goes without saying that our pets should be spayed and neutered.

After all, the stark reality is that there are millions of abused, neglected and unwanted dogs and cats in the United States of America alone. According to the ASPCA:

  • Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats.
  • Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats).

On the other hand, there is good news, too. The ASPCA also estimates that 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats).

That’s  a small step in the right direction. But there’s still along way to go.

Upcoming “holidays” devoted to pets:

  • National Dog Day — August 26, 2017
  • National Black Cat Appreciation Day — August 17, 2017
  • National Feral Cat Day — October 16, 2017
  • National Cat Day (U.S.) — October 29, 2017
  • National Black Cat Day — November 17, 2017

Feeding feral cats could soon be illegal in CT town

Officials in Naugatuck, Connecticut, are currently mulling the creation of a new ordinance that would punish people caught feeding feral cats.

According to published reports, the measure being considered by The Naugatuck Board of Mayor and Burgesses would address an alleged feral cat “problem” in a borough neighborhood.

“A couple” brought the issue to the mayor’s attention and requested that a local law be created to “fine people if they choose to feed feral cats.”

Cute Kitten, courtesy of FURRR 911. Photo by A. Bogdanovic
Bolt, a kitten rescued by FURRR 911, at Puttin’ On The Dog & Cats, Too 2016. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

So what will happen next? To start with, the Naugatuck attorney will review an existing ordinance in another community and draft one of his own. Then citizens will get to voice their opinions on the subject at a public hearing. Finally, the board will vote on whether or not to adopt the new ordinance.

Needless to say, that won’t happen overnight.

In the meantime, here are some things to consider:

  • Feral cats are also known as “community cats” by some animal welfare groups.
  • The ASPCA estimates the number of “community cats” in the United States to be in the “tens of millions.”
  • Traditional methods of dealing with feral cat colonies include “lethal extermination” or relocation.
  • Most kittens born into feral colonies don’t live long.
  • Although the practice is often criticized, the ASPCA endorses Trap-Neuter-Return as “the least costly and the most humane, efficient way of stabilizing community cat populations.”
  • Having a “colony caretaker” who “provides food and adequate shelter and monitors the cats’ health,” is key to successful TNR programs.

Personally, as someone who loves cats I have mixed feelings about TNR programs. On one hand I think they’re great. On the other hand, I think it’s sad that we need them at all — and I hope that there will one day be a time when we no longer do.

Until then, there are things we can all do to reduce the number of unwanted cats and kittens in the United States. Please, please, please, do not buy kittens from pet stores. Consider adopting from a shelter rather than buying a kitten from a breeder. Please think carefully about buying or adopting a cat or kitten — it is a big responsibility. Please spay or neuter your cat or kitten — they will be happier and healthier — and it is just the right thing to do.

The cutest kittens ever get another chance thanks to FURRR 911

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This has got to go down as one of the most turbulent weeks in recent American history. There were acts of terrorism in Minnesota, New York and New Jersey. Riots broke out in Charlotte after a yet another police shooting.

Cute Kitten, courtesy of FURRR 911. Photo by A. Bogdanovic
Bolt, a kitten rescued by FURRR 911, at Puttin’ On The Dog & Cats, Too 2016. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

But there was one day when thousands of people came together for a good cause in Greenwich, Connecticut. That was on Sunday. And I was there.

This was the fourth year that I had the honor and privilege of photographing the action in the demonstration rings at the Puttin’ On the Dog & Cats Too festival at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park. Hosted by Adopt-A-Dog, the local animal shelter where I volunteer, the event attracts pet owners and animal lovers from the Tri-State Area.

At the festival, pooches participate in various competitions including a costume contest. Their owners can check out the latest pet supplies and pet foods available from the vendors on site. Most importantly, the host organization along with other area animal rescue and welfare groups, get to introduce some of the dogs and cats available for adoption to the general public.

Please take the "chance" to help this little guy.
Chance’s story. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

This year,  FURRR 911 brought several young cats and kittens to the event. Based in Westchester County, NY, FURRR 911 specializes in rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing young cats and kittens most in need of help. Their stories are heartbreaking and heartwarming.

There’s Chance. He was thrown out of a building in New York City. And there’s TumbeLina, who was born with a disorder that affects her balance. There’s another little kitten who is missing an eye. And then there are those who were simply born into feral colonies.

They are all bundles of cuteness. They are all in need of good homes. And to be honest, if I didn’t have my hands full with Eli (a big bundle of cuteness in his own right) I probably would have adopted one or two.

As it stands, I can only hope that some of them will end up in good homes. In fact, I hope that all of the dogs and cats available for adoption will end up in homes where they know nothing but love and kindness. They deserve nothing less.