Monday 6 April 2009

Free Cat to Good Home

All those who are considering putting up an advertisement that reads something like, "Free Cat to Good Home" in the local paper, or anywhere else for that matter, should read this and then think hard about it. It is both a tragic and uplifting story.

A man, a very nasty man indeed, has been convicted of animal cruelty in New Jersey. His name is Anthony Appolonia. What is remarkable is that the judge (I love this judge, Judge Edward Neafsey -- for a cat lover he is a hero) sentenced him to 5 years imprisonment, the maximum under the law in that State (see cats and the law for worldwide laws). It is rare, in my experience for maximum sentences to be handed down and in this case it is the first time it has happened in an animal cruelty case in this State. Praise should go to the prosecutor Nicole Colucci and support from Sherry Ramsey of the The Humane Society of the United States (the source of this story). The excellent investigation was carried out by Monmouth County SPCA Executive Director Ursula Goetz sent Chief Amato. It seems in these two people that the county has a committed team of investigators.

It is so refreshing to read about a criminal investigation into animal cruelty actually being carried out fully and professionally to a proper conclusion. How often does that happen? In the UK we can't get the police to turn up to a burglary, for example, and if they do catch a burglar they get off with a caution (a warning). Burglaries can have a hugely negative impact on a person's life.

I am pleased that the law of New Jersey allows for a substantial sentence for animal cruelty. Praise should also go on this occasion to the politicians, the law makers. It is not often that I praise politicians!

Appolonia obtained, at least, 19 cats through adverts in local newspapers reading, free cat to good home, and then systematically tortured and killed them. Although he initially tried to lie his way out of it, he eventually confested to first beating then torturing and finally drowning the cats. It would seem that Mr Appolonia is sane but very angry, ill and nasty.

Here is the point of this post. The people who gave up their cats to this monster are mortified, shocked and saddened. They placed a free cat to good home advert in the local paper and it seems (no criticism intended) that they failed to carry out proper checks or if they did Appolonia fooled them. What HSUS call " due diligence" in re-homing your cat (or any other companion animal) should include the following (this is a summary in which I refer to cats, see the full article here):
  • initially ask why you want to give up your cat. If it is for behavioral problems this can possibly be dealt with on seeking advice. Cat behavioral problems are usually caused by us or are health related and both can be resolved.
  • if the need to give up the cat is housing related (i.e. moving to unsuitable housing) HSUS have a page on that:
  • if the above have been "ticked off" then the best place to re-home a companion cats is through the shelter network and the best way to find one in the USA is through and/or
  • If conducting the re-homing process yourself the advice of HSUS is to do this with the cooperation of friends, neighbors and your veterinarian first (people you know) and then as a last resort use the local newspaper.
  • always visit the prospective adopters home but of course take precautions when doing so. If the person won't cooperate strike that person off the list of adopters. Professional people deal in cats and dogs and they obatin them by responding to free to a good home adverts. These people simply deal in cats and dogs and are to be avoided obviously.
  • ask the prospective adopter for ID and if none is forthcoming the deal is off.
  • ask yourself realistic questions about the suitability of the new home (children, space, location etc.).
  • make sure the cat is spayed and neutered before re-homing.
This case is a warning to us all about the dangers of re-homing our cat. I think the first item on the list above is probably the most important. We need to commit to caring for our cat throughout the lifetime of the cat and nothing bar our health should interfere with that.

From Free Cat to Good Home to Home Page

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