The phone conversation began politely with a personal introduction and explanation of the matter at hand: To discuss the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Working Group, particularly in relation to free-roaming community cats.
After that explanation, the tension sizzled, and a combative conversation ensued. This brief phone harangue with Sharon Q. Adams, Executive Director of the Virginia Beach SPCA is all-telling and provided all the information needed to begin this series on the status of and emotionally charged debate regarding free-roaming community cats and humane trap-neuter-return in Virginia.
The answer to the first question, as to whether Ms. Adams would answer some questions regarding this topic, was defensively stated, “I will answer the questions I want to answer.”
Not a good omen. On to Question 2:
Tell me about the Virginia Beach SPCA’s efforts to educate the community on free-roaming community cats and initiate trap-neuter-return assistance in your community.
After spinning her way around the answer by listing the Virginia Beach SPCA’s wildlife and low-cost spay-neuter programs, Adams was prompted to answer the question directly.
Adams explained that the Virginia Beach SPCA teaches adults and children the dangers and risks of transmittable diseases, such as toxoplasmosis and rabies, carried by free-roaming community cats.
Fact: The health risks attributed to free-roaming community cats such as intestinal parasites, rabies, flea-borne typhus, and toxoplasmosis have not been conclusively proven. The vaccination component of trap-neuter-return is designed to protect free-roaming community cats against disease.
Again the question was posed: How is the Virginia Beach SPCA helping free-roaming community cats?
Adams professed, “We want to protect all species.”
Pointing out to Ms. Adams that the question was being skirted and not answered directly, Ms. Adams rudely asked, “Isn’t this interview with me?”
Stating that it would be reported that Ms. Adams was uncooperative, Ms. Adams replied, “Go ahead and say I was uncooperative.”
Sharon Adams, Executive Director of the Virginia Beach SPCA, was uncooperative and argumentative, but finally answered the question.
“We don’t provide any assistance for TNR,” Adams stated. “We think it’s abandonment.”
Her answer is incongruent with the stated mission of the Virginia Beach SPCA “to create a more humane and responsible community by decreasing our tolerance for cruelty while increasing our capacity for compassion.”
Her answer is also contradictory to the the goal of the Virginia Alliance for Animal Shelters, (of which Adams is Chair Officer of the Executive Committee), “to enhance animal welfare in the Commonwealth of Virginia through the collective knowledge, experience, professional commitment and sharing of resources of our organizations and agencies.”
On September 5, 2013, the Virginia Comprehensive Animal Care Laws Workgroup will meet from 10am to 4pm in House Room 3 of the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond to craft potential policies affecting free-roaming community cats and trap-neuter-return in Virginia.
Forward thinking veterinarians, animal lawyers, animal control officers, progressive animal shelter personnel, active trap-neuter-return supporters, and colony caregivers are encouraged to attend. Those unable to attend can email a letter of support to Virginia State Veterinarian, Dr. Dan Kovich, DVM, MPH and Virginia Federation of Humane Societies President, Debra Griggs.
For certain, instilling fear and doing nothing to help free-roaming community cats is not humane and could be considered abandonment.