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save the cats of san juan
because viejo san juan without gatos is unthinkable
there are times when you think the federal government just could not become any nastier, more shortsighted, or more deadly venal.
and then you run into the truly terrible output of groups like the national park service (NPS).
you can read the whole story HERE and it is, as is too often the case, an awful one.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Hundreds of cats have long slinked through the cobblestone streets of Puerto Rico’s historic district, stopping for the occasional pat on the head as delighted tourists and residents snap pictures and offer bits of food.
The cats are so beloved they even have their own statue in Old San Juan.
now, granted, this is a bit of an odd likeness, but there is nothing remotely odd about cats and san juan.
viejo san juan is the oldest city in america. it has beautiful colonial architecture, old spanish forts, and lots and lots of cats.
and then these national park yahoos show up and want to deal with what is not only a non-problem, but a longstanding feature and quite literally a vital solution for old san juan.
But officials say their population has grown so much that the U.S. National Park Service wants to implement a “free-ranging cat management plan” and is considering options that could include removing the animals.
The idea has outraged many people, who worry the cats will be killed.
“This is like Disney World for cats,” said Alfonso Ocasio, who has been going to Old San Juan since 2014 to feed the cats a couple times a week. “I don’t know how these people dare face the world with their proposal.”
neither do i.
(and yes, this is puerto rico, they’ll get killed wholesale. no one is taking them somewhere nice to live out their days on cream and tuna.)
The agency said the plan aims to improve “visitor experience,” protect cultural and natural resources, reduce health and safety concerns and alleviate “nuisance issues.” It also noted that cats are likely killing wildlife in the area.
and this is disastrously stupid on about 12 vectors not least of which is this:
oh, OK, so we’ll just trap and kill the cats that fail to read the sign and move into the empty space we keep creating in all the local green zones and parks?
you know, the kind of places cats like to live?
yeah, that’ll work.
it’s going to be a massacre.
this does not “improve the experience” it degrades it. the cats of VSJ are much beloved and featured in guidebooks, calendars, photo collections, and the happy memories of millions of visitors.
they not only class up the joint but provide a service that is desperately needed.
and you would think that people like the NPS would know that.
Cats were introduced to Puerto Rico to battle plagues of rats and other vermin. Many are direct descendants from their Spanish lineage. Now they’re as much a part of Old San Juan as the colorful buildings and city walls.
this is not only aesthetic and ethical, it’s functional in a classic “chesterton’s fence” sense of “never tear down a fence until you know why it was put up in the first place.”
in a place like old san juan with 500 year old buildings and the drains and culverts that come with them, you have a simple choice:
do you want cats or do you want rats?
nobody chooses rats. there is a reason for that…
and people have strong feelings about this issue:
and they were not going to be denied.
On Wednesday night, dozens of people gathered for the first of two public meetings on the issue. But when National Park Service officials said there would be no hearing and asked people to only write down their comments, the crowd erupted in anger.
“This doesn’t make sense!”
“We have doubts! We have questions!”
“Let’s defend the cats!”
The crowd kept yelling, demanding a public hearing until officials relented. They opened the doors to a small theater as one elderly activist blew on the emergency whistle of his keychain to herd the crowd in.
People spoke one by one amid loud applause. Their biggest concern was that the cats would be euthanized, even though the National Park said it is still receiving public comments and that any decision would be based on those.
yeah, that’s right. we damn near had a cat riot here.
“I’m not alone in wanting to know the answers,” he (Toru Dodo, Old San Juan resident) said amid claps and cheers. “These are one of the wonders of Old San Juan.”
yes they are.
and i, for one, would have them remain so now and always.
so, from the community of bad cat boosters, i would ask a boon:
i think the national park people would benefit from getting a piece of the public mind on this.
perhaps you would be kind enough to help.
there is no study here, no ethics, no sound reason to change 500 years of practice.
it’s the ill conceived hobbyhorse of some uncomprehending apparatchik.
this is going to be the “kill the wolves of yellowstone” debacle all over again. these agencies never learn anything…
the cats live in san juan.
the people of san juan like it.
the tourists like it.
groups like SAVE A GATO (at which some of my friend’s children volunteer) support them and so do countless individuals (including me).
(and yes, because many are asking, there is already a spay and neuter program in place run by save a gato)
if these fine felines are extinguished, you are going to not only lose the joy and cultural heritage of it, but you are going to get a rodent romper room the likes of which you cannot believe.
let NYC have “pizza rat.”
we’ll keep the cats thank you very much.
we like it that way.
they are asking for “substantive comments”
and that seems a reasonable ask. so, should you chose to share your views with them, please be polite and factual and most of all firm in calling this like you see it.
this sort of comment campaign really does work and overwhelming response rates are how we stop bad ideas like this from becoming reality.
please do as your conscience and predilections guide you.
let the gatos enjoy the san juan sunset, not be dragged off to die in darkness.