‘I refuse to cower’

To the Editor:
In answer to Selina Kyle’s Letter, BCN, Sept. 15:
I never attacked Kathy Henderson or the foundation in my presentation to the council or letter to the BCN; I simply presented an opposing view on the proposed ordinance and corrected inaccuracies in information provided by Ms. Henderson and Mr. Sullivan. However, Ms. Kyle, you don’t practice what you preach. I have as much right to voice my concerns about how a TNR program will be implemented in our community as you, Ms. Henderson, and foundation members have to voice your support. Many people told me not to pursue a public opposition to the ordinance and hide in the shadows like many of the “silent majority.” However, I refuse to cower to people like you who resort to personal attacks. These attacks will not silence me and only reinforce my resolve to make sure the citizens of Bayonne know what hazards they face if an improperly managed TNR program is implemented and fails to protect the most endangered citizens: the children, elderly and immunocompromised.
Since my opposition to the proposed ordinance is based on its failure to address human health risks, I did not speak to the effectiveness of TNR programs. You failed to contradict the issues I raised. The so-called Stanford University study Mr. Sullivan noted in his article, A fuzzy issue, does not exist. This “study” is nothing more than an internal memo from G. Morrow, EHS, to B. Witscher, Facilities, after concerns were raised about risks to students when the Stanford Cat Network was being formed. I contacted the Department of Environmental Health & Safety and Department of Comparative Medicine (another Stanford dept. claimed to have participated in this study on feral cat websites), who confirmed no study was conducted by either group. As for the University of Florida study, which concluded feral cats and owned cats share similar health status, this study compared free-roaming “unowned” (feral cats) to free-roaming “owned cats,” not indoor cats. Since free-roaming cats, whether owned or unowned, frequent the same areas and the two groups commingle, they would, of course, share similar health status. If the comparison was done with indoor cats, the outcome would have been dramatically different. In addition, this study only covered fatal feline diseases, feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus; it did not test the cats for the 15 plus diseases feral cats carry and transmit to humans including rabies, toxoplasmosis, salmonella, etc.
As for the organizations you mentioned, I don’t put much stock in information provided by organizations, like Alley Cat Allies, whose sole purpose is to put the welfare of an animal above that of humans. However, I will impart information provided in the Humane Society Your Cat and Your Health brochure. Until recently, zoonotic diseases touched few lives in this country (note statement “until recently”). Cats are a source of a variety of intestinal ailments and parasites. These diseases spread to people by contact with feces or soil that has been contaminated. These infections can be life-threatening for people who are immunocompromised. Cats are the “only” species of animal that sheds the infectious stage of toxoplasmosis in their feces. Pregnant women infected with toxoplasmosis can miscarry or have babies born with birth defects.

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