At the March 25th City Council Meeting, Antioch officials launched their Cat Extermination Campaign, led by Police Lieutenant Robin Kelly, Councilman Gary Agopian, and City Manager Steve Duran (who helped the Lieutenant say the big numbers).
Lt. Kelly got us all on board with her Powerpoint Education Blitz, during which she blamed the rescue groups (who mean well but need to be educated) for causing “the Feral cat threat.” Even though it's the rescue groups, not Lt. Kelly, who trap and neuter and work their asses off trying to find homes for cats that are dumped downtown; and they've been doing it for years, before the Lieutenant even knew there was a problem.
The meeting went almost as planned; the room was packed with people worried about what will happen to the cats when the Starvation Ordinance goes into effect.
The Councilors made us wait for four hours, hoping we would get tired and go away, while they dawdled over their pre-planned votes on every other issue before them. But everybody stayed anyway, irritating Councilman Agopian past endurance. After twenty people got in their two minutes-worth at the mic, Mayor Wade Harper thanked them for their passion, and voted to starve the cats.
CITIZENS NEED TO BE EDUCATED
The extermination campaign started off with a breathtaking presentation by Lt. Kelly, who oversees the Antioch Animal Shelter. So jaw-dropping was it, that the guy beside me (my husband) whispered, “Wow, she sure hates cats!”
She piled on the evidence for domestic cats being the worst scourge on earth: Quotes from Wikipedia and visuals on the big screen from groups like PETA, known for their endorsement of euthanasia as a first resort, and notorious for rewarding shelters that increase their kill rates, with money and gift baskets of vegan goodies.
Her personal contribution was a photo of some cats sitting on the sidewalk next to the Antioch Police Station.
The Feral Cat problem is so bad, she said during questioning by the Council, that she “Did not even know about it until two and a half months ago!”
Lt. Kelly continued our education by informing us about a little-known class of criminal: the Rogue Feeder - a seemingly harmless but very messy individual, going about leaving styrofoam plates and such laying around.
THE BIG NUMBERS
The big numbers came up when Lt. Kelly made up how much the City would have to pay if TNR is instituted: $324,601 and 89 cents and $157,533 and 89 cents. But since the rescue groups already do all the work, the City wouldn't have to pay anything, just get out of the way.
JUST SAY DITTO
Then it was the public's turn. The rescue groups were ready with their own graphs and studies. Unfortunately they couldn't show them, having only two minutes each to tell their side. Mayor Harper was so eager to speed them on their way that he recommended they “Just say ditto, if someone has already said what you wanted to say.” But if they wanted to take their two minutes anyway, (and waste everybody's time) that would be OK too, he said.
A few were for the cat-feeding ban. Cats kill wildlife, cause disease and stink the place up. Worse, they make it impossible for a grown man to walk his dogs without having to “wade through a bunch of cats.”
But most in the room were against starving the cats. One of them was a man who runs an engineering business downtown, who was going to have to walk back to his office that night and was more worried about getting mugged by “menacing meth-heads” or shot by the gang-bangers who live nearby, than “some cat urinating” on his feet. He called it “vicious, un-Christian and cruel to starve animals to death.” Mayor Harper thanked the man for adding a little humor to the proceedings.
AND THE DRAMA QUEEN OF THE EVENING AWARD GOES TO...
Politician-turned-Ecologist Gary Agopian declared house cats to be a non-native invasive species, threatening the ecology of Antioch's downtown parking lots. He called the Council “gutless” for pretending to give any consideration to the public comments.
His tirade started when someone objected to his criticism of the rescue groups for not working harder longer. He began by summing up his philosophy of government saying, “This is not a dialogue, this is a monologue; I am a sitting councilman and you will not disrespect me.” Concluding his statement by saying, “I will not be mocked,” he demanded an immediate vote on the Ordinance as-is.
After a lot of hemming and hawing, Wilson and Rocha, citing their love of animals, voted Yes: To ban feeding and institute starvation; and to limit pets unless you pay a hefty Kennel License and get inspected by the Antioch Animal Welfare Authority, Lt. Kelly.
Councilman Tony Tiscanero wanted to know, when you just stop feeding them, then what? He questioned what the long term effect of the feeding ban would be and wondered what would happen to the rescue groups' TNR efforts. He wanted to give them a chance to keep on begging Animal Control to work with them, rather than against them, on TNR even though Animal Control discourages public involvement that interferes with their euthanasia program. But Councilman Agopian would have none of that.
The City Council will be voting on the final approval and subsequent implementation of the Anti-Animal Rescue/Cat Extermination/Multiple Pet Taxation Ordinance on Tuesday April 8th, 7PM.