Tenting for termites killed 6 community cats in South Beach Miami

SOUTH BEACH, MIAMI - NEWS AND COMMENT: Six community cats were killed by a fumigation chemical possibly colorless sulfuryl fluoride when they entered a building that was being 'tented'. There are businesses which cover a building in a tent so no gases can escape from it and then they pump in fumigation chemicals to kill every termite and nasty organism inside the building to render it completely free of these pests.

Tenting for termites killed 6 community cats in South Beach Miami
This is a file photo from Wikipedia of a tent fumigation process in Los Angeles, Calif.

Clearly it is a dangerous process because the chemicals can harm animals and people. Therefore, there must be strict rules on how they go about fumigated buildings in this way. They have to check to make sure the building is free of all life before they pump in the chemicals. They have to make sure there's no means of an animal getting into the building.

In this instance, six cats did get into the building or to buildings that were being tented and were trapped after they draped the tent over the building. It seems that nobody checked to make sure the building was clear and as a consequence they were poisoned. They were community cats which means that they were domestic cats living in the community being cared for by volunteers.

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The volunteers got to know these cats very well and they become their pets. One such person is Holly Whalan who lives in South Beach, Miami. She said that three of the cats who died were come into her home and snuggle with her on the sofa. One cat, Sol, would hug her. They had become her pets she said and she is extremely distraught. She said: "I can only imagine their fear. Being suffocated to death and having nowhere to hide."

The 6 cats killed by tenting
The 6 cats killed by tenting. Montage: 7News Miami.

Three of the cats, Maru, Sol and Chloe were known to Whalan. They were three of 15,000 community cats living in Miami Beach. A local non-profit caring for the cats in partnership with the city, SoBe Cats, emphasised that they were not feral cats and that they were looked after in all respects including veterinary bills, by volunteers.

Whalan said that the building had a crawlspace which allowed the cats to get in which was subsequently fixed. She says that it was a code violation to leave that crawlspace access open to the cats. She claims that it was a code violation. SoBe Cats made a complaint to the city about the fact that the openings were not covered properly.

A further three were also killed in the same way. These cats were Oreo, Barbie and Lemon. Another South Beach resident was very fond of them. A local news media business, 7News, said that the city had known about this problem for a long time and therefore it must have happened before without any action being taken.

The city say that they cannot pass laws regulating fumigation companies because it is the state's responsibility. In the meantime, the volunteers wonder what can be done to protect community cats under the circumstances.

Comment: based upon the report on 7News it is clear that the fumigation business was negligent but they not been punished because of a lack of evidence, apparently. And it seems that nothing will be done in the future in the way of proactive steps to stop a recurrence.

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