A few months back a homeowner called Animal Services in Wichita asking for someone to come to his block and do something about the number of cats that were running wild in his neighborhood. These cats were finding their way into a house on the property next to his by climbing a tree and entering through the roof. They were also constantly in his yard, setting his dogs off and causing them to jump through the screened windows. On the day that he called Animal Services one of his dogs had done just this, resulting in the animal being hit by a car.
Animal Services told him that they would not come out as they had no one available and that he should call Friends of Felines instead. He did so, hoping that he could at last recover the respite provided by his home, but was told, again, that he could not be helped. Friends of Felines do not trap cats during kitten season because they don’t want to take mothers from their kittens.
And so out of desperation this homeowner retrieved a handgun, went out into his yard and, allegedly, attempted to shoot the cat. And this is how I learned about the Keystone Apartments in Wichita’s District 3. So I decided to go and take a look at the environs and speak with this gentleman. So along with an individual who runs a spay neuter clinic and an animal rescue in town we went to see for ourselves how bad it was.
We saw several cats (below) running around the lot between buildings. One unit had a portion of the steps pulled away which revealed two holes large enough for the cats to enter for shelter. We knocked on the door and was met by 2 kittens and an elderly woman who was not able to say much more than she was being helped by a group to spay and neuter the cats. A pregnant cat lurked nearby as the kittens poked their heads out at us from the door of the apartment.
In fact ear tipped cats were running around but they were not this woman’s cats. We spoke to a family across from her who said the family that had been taking care of these cats had moved away a couple of weeks ago and the cats were now eating out of the dumpsters and that this woman would occasionally leave food out for them. The cats were living in the basements of these buildings as all of the basement doors were ajar and would not shut. When we walked into these basements we saw cats leap to a hole in the wall and disappear.
We interviewed neighbors who told us that a silver SUV had shown up loaded with traps and released the cats in the apartments. We spoke to the owners of the apartments and they said that tenants are not allowed to have pets.
When I mentioned this at a DAB discussion on TNR, the president of Friends of Felines Shrugged her shoulders and said that this occasionally happens, people will move away and cats will be without a caretaker. She seemed unconcerned that by releasing cats to an individual (if they were in fact released to a caretaker) who cannot legally have cats on their lease, the TNR group is skating dangerously close to violating Kansas State Statute
21-6412 (2) knowingly abandoning any animal in any place without making provisions for its proper care. When I spoke to a state official about this incident at licensing they agreed that this was something that they should probably look at.
And now in Wichita we are looking at the possibility or our City Council members voting to approve an ordinance that would let these groups operate legally and with zero oversight or accountability of their activities. It is difficult to fathom that an advisory board to an Animal Care division could stray so far from it’s stated purpose to protect animals welfare that they, and their misguided adherents, would support a proposal that puts animals in such danger, not to mention the danger to human and wild life in our city.
And despite all of this, remember that City Council members are still free to vote yes for this very proposal. Even if their Advisory boards all vote no. These are dark times for homeowners, their pets and for wildlife in Wichita.
Below are some of the cats we were able to photograph. You’ll notice the left ear on all cats are clipped.