LETTER: ‘Open Season’ on Central Park Cats

This rescue cat, "Tiger Lilly," is happily still in the land of the living.

This rescue cat, “Tiger Lilly,” is happily still in the land of the living. (Photo: Sandy Mayer)

November 17, 2014


Keep your kitties inside! Evidentially there was a complaint filed with the Sheriff’s office by a woman who was disturbed by the cats in her yard. Consequently, the Sheriff’s office and Animal Control are actively hunting cats in the Cape Charles Central Park area. No animal is safe — it is open season on Cape Charles cats. If you are missing an animal you need to call Animal Control in Onley at 757-787-7385 to identify the animal and produce evidence of rabies vaccinations to reclaim the animal.


Animal Control has already euthanized two beautiful neutered cats from the Madison Avenue area, Haze and Circle. They were friendly, loving cats. We are devastated, and they will be sadly missed. If only my tears could bring them back. Rest in peace, Haze and Circle, we will meet you at the Rainbow Bridge.

There are two more cats being held in custody until we produce their paperwork and rescue them. If your pet is missing, call Animal Control. It is my understanding that they can trap animals on personal property without the owner’s knowledge or permission. It is too sad that there is no safety for our pets in town. Animals need to be loved and protected, not hunted and destroyed.

ESSO is an organization in Cape Charles actively working to reduce the local cat population. We have spayed and neutered in excess of 20 cats and delivered about 27 kittens to the Virginia Beach SPCA for adoption in the past few months. Our mission is to offer low-cost spay and neuter service to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. If you cannot afford to spay or neuter your pets, we will provide financial assistance. Call Sharyl Cline at 757-331-3037 for appointments or visit us on Facebook at Eastern Shore Spay Organization, Inc.

We have purchased a “neuter scooter,” or mobile surgical unit, that is currently on display near Eastern Shore Custom Carts on Randolph Avenue in Cape Charles. We have an ongoing raffle to help pay for the scooter. First prize is a golf cart. Second prize is a night at a Cape Charles B&B and a $50 gift certificate from Aqua Restaurant. Our drawing will be on Thanksgiving. To buy a raffle ticket please visit our website, EasternShoreSpayOrg.com. We are a registered nonprofit organization, and your contributions are tax deductible.

Thank you for all your wonderful contributions and support.

Secretary/Treasurer, ESSO
Cape Charles

Letters to the Editor are welcome, and a diversity of opinions is encouraged. Send submissions to [email protected].



8 Responses to “LETTER: ‘Open Season’ on Central Park Cats”

  1. Kearn Schemm on November 17th, 2014 9:32 am

    This what happens when there are too many police and not enough for them to do. Can you picture them wasting their time (and tax dollars) rounding up sweet cats in Newark, New Jersey, or Los Angeles or New Orleans?

    Maybe we should cut back on the number of officers at the sheriff’s office, then they wouldn’t have the resources to have an open season on cats. Who was “the woman” who has the pull to get the county to do this? Someone on the town board?

  2. Linda Wenners Zaremski on November 17th, 2014 3:55 pm

    Hunting and killing perfectly healthy, innocent cats is just not the answer. Trap-Neuter-Return is the humane and effective approach for these stray and feral cats. TNR relieves them of the constant stresses of mating and pregnancy, therefore also cutting down on roaming, howling, fighting, etc. The cats are also vaccinated against rabies, making them less susceptible to disease. TNR cats actually live pretty healthy lives and can live independent of humans. In addition, it’s been proven for decades throughout the U.S. and Europe that colonies involved in TNR decrease in size over time. We are fortunate here in Cape Charles that our small colonies are pretty friendly. My husband and I adopted a feral cat and I know of a few tourists who have taken home a cat or two as well. Sandy Mayer and others in this town are doing a fantastic job, dedicating hours each day to the TNR program, in addition to getting the kittens adopted. It would be nice if the county, town and more residents could support these incredible, selfless efforts and perhaps even chip in a few bucks or even a little time to help. Great strides have already been made. Please donate to the neuter scooter so that Sandy and others can stay the course!

  3. Karen R. Lowe on November 17th, 2014 8:12 pm

    I, too, think this is outrageous action on the part of our taxpayer-supported “civil servants.” Cats are exempt from any existing leash/control laws, and I pray we will never come to that in the state of Virginia or the town of Cape Charles. So, if the woman who complained about cats in her yard wants to keep them out, she should build a suitable fence and be ever vigilant about keeping her gates closed!
    Most of us in Cape Charles understand and embrace the existence of feral cats (although ours are quite friendly) because we have a harbor and we have fish and we have rodents…all of which historically combine to make a very hospitable habitat for cats. Chincoteague Island used to be overrun with feral cats, hanging around every restaurant in town! A Trap/Neuter/Return program there has had a very successful impact on the cat population. TNR is the way to go. Let’s NOT have the reputation of the family vacation town who condones killing small nuisances instead of pro-actively changing the situation for the better! It is NOT the image that drew us to buy a house in Cape Charles!

  4. Jill Combs on November 18th, 2014 12:47 pm

    WHAT A SHAME….but what is the deal with the neuter scooter? My daughter went to check it out for the spaying of her two kittens and was told that they would have to CLIP 1/8″ of their ears off……really….what a barbaric practice! Mutilate their ears to prove they have been spayed….you can look at them and tell. If you want people to use the service you can’t mutilate the cats. She was appalled and so was I. Please reconsider the ear clipping and you will have better results with the program.

  5. Wayne Creed on November 18th, 2014 3:09 pm

    This is really sick, and oh so typical of the New Cape Charles. Who decided that Cape Charles has a feral cat problem in the first place? I lived in the Fan in Richmond, and those alleys were lined with lots of cats. Considering some of the rats I saw, I always just considered them as not a problem, but just some blokes out on the job. I feel the same way about the feline crew that runs patrols around my house.

    Sandy and the Eastern Shore Spay Organization, Inc. is already working to manage the population (thanks Ms. Lowe for the Trap, Neuter, Release education), so instead of hunting them down and shipping them off to kitty Auschwitz, maybe the government should back off and let them do their work. I really hope Animal Control is not going onto private property to carry out these atrocities; that would not be a good thing. Considering the number of children living in abject poverty in Northampton (yes Virginia, there are still many homes without windows, doors, or indoor plumbing), the haranguing of Cape Charles cats seems energy and money misspent.

    Literary notes: T.S. Eliot reminded us that the naming of cats (especially neighborhood cats) is a difficult matter, as Albert Camus also understood that it is always forbidden to spit on cats in plague time. However, given what we’ve seen over the last couple of years, the grotesque killing of cats in Cape Charles should not really come as too much of a surprise.

    Oh, and Ms. Combs, ear tipping is pretty much a universal sign that a feral cat has been neutered; it’s about the only way to tell, and without it, sometimes the same cat will be unnecessarily trapped and anesthetized, and even operated on. It also serves to identify the cat as part of a managed TNR family.

  6. Susan Bauer on November 18th, 2014 4:29 pm

    Ear “tipping” is generally only used to identify feral cats who are altered and then released back to a colony. The purpose for the procedure is to assist caretakers in identifying which cats have already received veterinary care, so that the cats do not have to be stressed by being “re-trapped” and sedated unnecessarily. It is not a procedure that is used for companion cats that are kept indoors. I am sure there was some sort of miscommunication. To the good people of ESSO, I mourn your loss of Haze and Circle. You valued them, and their lives mattered. Please keep up your compassionate and humane work.

  7. Butch Vest on November 19th, 2014 8:07 am

    Under Sec. 50-191 of the code that Cape Charles has states, “it shall be unlawful for any person who owns or has control of any animal to permit such animal to run at large at any time.” Further down the same section states, “for the purpose of this section, the term “Animal” shall be deemed to include, but not be limited to, any mammal, bird, or reptile.” Yes, I am a pet owner and I do not let my pet roam the streets. I can understand why some people get upset when doing yard work and have to clean up waste from some inconsiderate pet owner’s pets. There are times that you can find at least 3 cats that don’t belong to me in my yard.

  8. Susan Bauer on November 19th, 2014 3:24 pm

    To Mr. Vest: “Feral” cats by their nature, and by definition, are not owned and controlled. Although some of the CC cats are quite tame, feral cats are generally wild and undomesticated. They have become part of the fauna of CC, despite the fact they are not indigenous, but likely the offspring of domesticated cats abandoned by irresponsible guardians generations ago. They deserve to be treated humanely, and not eradicated. TNR is the best response to this issue and ESSO should be encouraged and supported in its efforts to continue its compassionate and responsible work.