Tell the US National Park Service Not to Kill Cats in San Juan, Puerto Rico

  • by: Louise Holton
  • recipient: NPS Director Charles Sams III, NPS Regional Director (Region 2) Mark Foust

Alley Cat Rescue, a national nonprofit focused on cat welfare, officially opposes the U.S. National Park Service's (NPS) plans to remove the community cats currently living at the San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico. Removal of the cats will not effectively rid the area of cats. As Alley Cat Rescue and numerous others have explained to NPS officials, when cats are trapped and removed from an area, new cats quickly move in to fill the vacated territory and take advantage of the resources that had been sustaining the cats there before them and start the breeding process all over again. This phenomenon, called the "vacuum effect," is inevitable but repopulation at the National Historic Site will be particularly swift as it is a popular place for people to abandon unwanted cats.

Alley Cat Rescue supports trap-neuter-return (TNR) of the cats, which includes removal of kittens young enough to be socialized from the park and into adoption programs. The National Park Service complains that the population of cats has actually increased over the years, despite local nonprofits and volunteers doing TNR. However, the cause for this is most certainly the rampant pet abandonment that the NPS has not taken steps to correct.

The park is estimated to have around 200 cats there now, and the NPS is going to allow one nonprofit whom they select just six months to remove and find new locations for all of the cats. If this objective is not met, or if at least "substantial progress" is not made (per a Nov. 28, 2023 AP News report), the NPS will hire a removal service. That is a somewhat delicate way of saying the cats will be killed.

Not only is the timetable impossible, finding a place for 200 cats, some of whom are too wild to be adopted into regular homes, is really an impossible task on its own. There is an absolute crisis of shelter overcrowding throughout the U.S. Neither rescues nor state shelters in this country will be able to take in more than a few cats, if any. The logistics and cost of shipping cats all over the country would also be ridiculous.

The NPS is in effect saying they will kill around 200 cats, many of whom were pets who have been callously abandoned, in six months. They do the bare minimum to diffuse criticism with the impossible six-month relocation period.

Please join Alley Cat Rescue in HOLDING THE U.S. NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE ACCOUNTABLE for the overpopulation problems at the San Juan National Historic Site. They should work on deterring abandonment, not punishing the cats who are abandoned. A relatively small number of people who TNR and care for all of the cats will also suffer a huge emotional loss if this plan is implemented.

Sign your name if you believe that this CRUELTY should not stand.

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