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    Further On Feral Feline Fracas: Gold Star Manor Mgmt. Sends Letter Declining "Trap, Neuter, Return" Citing LB VA Hospital Policy...BUT We Learn Policy At LB VA Hospital Is Now...

    (January 26, 2006) -- Gold Star Manor CEO/President John Higginson (RADM, USN, Ret.) has sent a letter to residents of the WLB housing complex stating that cats captured by the property's maintenance crew "cannot be permitted to return to the property" and "this policy is followed by the Long Beach Veterans Administration Hospital, which, similar to the Manor, has extensive grounds."

    But has learned that following a 2002 controversy in which LB's VA Hospital initially indicated it wouldn't let feral felines (neutered or otherwise) remain on its grounds, the Hospital administration implemented -- and is currently using -- a "trap, neuter, return" policy which a hospital spokesman says has worked out OK and is even helping keep rodents under control.

    In a polite, businesslike letter to Marge McKinney, who with several other Gold Star Manor residents held a recent demonstration to urge a "trap, neuter, return" for feral cats at the 23-acre, parklike housing complex (Santa Fe @ Spring), Adm. Higginson said that after meeting with representatives of the residents' group, he considered the matter and wrote in pertinent part:

    Our policy, as it has existed for years, is to remove stray animals from the grounds. This includes any unadopted, undomesticated, feral, wild or otherwise other-than-household...

    Your request to trap, spay and neuter cats on our premises is welcomed. Currently our maintenance crew has sole responsibility for animal control. However, after capture, the cats cannot be permitted to return to the property. Locally, this policy is followed by the Long Beach Veterans Administration Hospital, which, similar to the Manor, has extensive grounds.

    I applaud your efforts to treat these animals in a humane and compassionate manner but allowing the Manor to be a feral cat preserve cannot be permitted for any number of reasons, chief among them health and safety issues...

    ...[W]e recognize the benefits of pet ownership. I assure you that residents of the Manor have the opportunity to maintain many different kinds of pets, including a cat, within the rules outlined in order to protect the rights of all who live here.

    I hope that this has clarified our position and is concurred in by the Board of Trustees of the Manor...As always, I welcome any suggestion to improve life here at American Gold Star Manor.

    Although the VA Hospital's initial response to a 2002 feral cat controversy was to rule out having any of them on the property, Richard Beam, the LB VA Hospital's Dir. of Public & Community Relations, told that hospital management was subsequently referred to the Best Friends Animal Society ( which arranged to provide the VA Hospital with vouchers for animal birth control services in a southbay city.

    As a result, LB's VA Hospital now traps the feral cats, takes them (on its own) to the southbay area facility where a veterinarian neuters/spays them and they're returned to the VA property (with one ear clipped, a readily visible sign they've been clipped down below).'s it worked out? "Things seem to be OK," VA Hospital spokesman Beam said, adding "the cats have helped keep any rodents under control." Overall he said, "we've reached a kind of equilibrium, a sort of balance that's helped mitigate other problems and the situation is manageable now."

    Mr. Beam said the Hospital's first priority remains the health and safety of patients and visitors and thus far there've been no problems that the Hospital has been made aware of.

    He added that he's not making recommendations for others, just describing what the LB VA Hospital's experience has been to date.

    Related coverage:

  • Fracas Over Feral Felines: Gold Star Manor Residents Protest Property Mgmt's Trapping And Handing Wild Cats To LB Animal Control (Where As Unadoptable Animals They're Killed); Group Urges "Trap, Neuter, Return" Policy

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