It’s nice to know I’m not alone in being disgusted by the high kill rate in the Upper Keys. Maybe if enough people speak up, things will improve. There’s no doubt that in the short-term any solution will have to come from the citizens – private donations, private volunteer efforts. Monroe County has made it crystal clear that they intend to do nothing to improve the situation.
When asked about the high kill rate last year, Monroe County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy said that she is “perfectly happy” with the services provided by the shelter. Murphy “represents” the Key Largo area – if you can call her long history of inaction “representing”. There will be no improvement on that front unless Robby Majeska defeats her in the Republican primary in August.
When it comes to the high kill rate, county staff has zero ideas, zero proposals. They spend much of their energy distorting the facts. They inflated the number of animals served at the Middle Keys shelter and the Lower Keys shelter in the 2015 State of the County report. My guess is that they were trying to obscure the fact that the county provides less funding to the Upper Keys shelter on a per animal basis. Why?
You might remember the whole Stand Up For Animals (SUFA) debacle. Monroe County sued SUFA, the operator of the Middle Keys shelter. It was a groundless lawsuit, and SUFA eventually prevailed in a counter-suit. Ironically County Administrator, Roman “the iPhone Bandit” Gastesi, accused SUFA of “sloppy bookkeeping” in his deposition. How would he characterize the actions of his own staff who seem to have deliberately distorted the numbers? Isn’t that a whole lot worse than “sloppy bookkeeping”? Whatever is going on here clearly has nothing to do with helping animals.
So far, county officials have refused to take constructive action. It is doubtful that they will make progress on this issue without determined public intervention. Fortunately, I’m not alone in being concerned about the welfare of animals, particularly in the Upper Keys.
Here is a letter that appeared in the Free Press, March 16, 2016: Kill Rates Are Unacceptable. The author, Joy Tatgenhorst of Marathon, suggested a trap-neuter-return-feed-monitor as one way to control the feral cat population in a humane manner.
A similar method has been used in the Ocean Reef area to reduce the feral cat population.
There will be folks who argue that feral cats (or outdoor cats) are a threat to wildlife. There is no question that is true and I agree that it is a problem. However, people aren’t going to bring cats to a “shelter” knowing that those cats are facing almost certain death. And people aren’t going to stop feeding and befriending outdoor cats. So why not reduce the outdoor cat population in the most humane way possible?
The county has put a tremendous amount of resources into distorting the facts when it comes to animal control. How much staff time was spent gathering “annual estimates” that conflict with the monthly reports they already had? How much staff time was spent addressing questions about the obvious bust in the numbers? They’re not fooling anyone. They’re just allowing a terrible situation to continue. Why? The county needs to devote taxpayer resources to honestly addressing the issue instead. And they should start by explaining their actions.