By Charles Thomas
The cats at Lincoln Place need our help again. The cats and the Stray Cat Alliance need our help fast. The Stray Cat Alliance is the organization that has most substantively stepped in and worked tirelessly to guarantee the safety and survival of the cat population at Lincoln Place. The past two weeks has been something remarkable in the advancement of justice thanks to the Alliance.
If you have followed this story, last reported on in the July issue of the Beachhead (by Barbara Eisenberg) then you know that Lincoln Place has, for years, had a stray cat population. Lincoln Place, as most Venetians know, of course, is the apartment complex just “east of Lincoln” (behind Ralphs) that has often been at the center of controversy for the actions of its management company, AIMCO. The controversies have related to evicting tenants in cavalier fashion and simply shutting down living access to the facility while a legal issue ensued over AIMCO’s desire to convert the property away from affordable housing. AIMCO recently voiced intent to begin trapping the stray cats and turn them over the West L.A. division of the city’s animal shelter. Those of us researching the issue agree that such a trip to the shelter would probably be a death sentence for the cats.
The threat escalated almost two weeks ago when AIMCO posted notice of having secured a permit to begin trapping within days. The posting was something of a “slap in the face” to the Stray Cat Alliance (SCA) that had worked for almost two years at feeding and caring for the cats. SCA’s efforts also included spay/neutering the cats, along with vaccinating, microchipping and some veterinary services. SCA spent thousands of dollars on these efforts and reduced the cat population from over one hundred to less than twenty five.
When the trapping notices were posted, SCA sprang into action and filed suit in L.A. Superior Court to enjoin AIMCO from proceeding with the cat extinction. SCA quickly secured an “ex parte” hearing (before the October 23 trapping commencement) and attorneys for both SCA and AIMCO appeared for oral argument. Judge John Reid ruled for SCA giving a temporary injunction to prevent AIMCO’s trapping or proceeding with construction activities that would threaten the cats. This ruling is an exciting result because it could lead to “precedent setting law” in cases where an animal welfare organization is correctly claiming legal rights to, and “ownership” of creatures being protected. In addition to the injunction, a hearing was set for November 9 to revisit the issue, and on SCA’s right to bring suit. However, the November 9 date will probably be vacated. Why? Because in the meantime, after the injunction, AIMCO has (interestingly) “come to the table” in dialog with SCA. The result is that SCA and AIMCO have come to an agreement. SCA has access to Lincoln Place to continue removing the remaining cats. Details of the agreement between SCA and AIMCO may be available as we go to press (but for now are private between SCA and AIMCO). The temporary injunction and the temporary sigh of relief mean that the cats will enjoy a “no kill” situation under the auspices of the Stray Cat Alliance.
The next step is finding homes for the cats. That is where we, fellow Venetians, can come in and help. We can come together as a community because a “stressed out” nonprofit like SCA can’t do it all. The SCA has come this far (and done great work), but is in dire need now to find homes for the Lincoln Place cats. This may be more than the usual challenge because some selected darlings from Lincoln Place will be “special needs” cats. Some of these cats have lived feral lifestyles in various degrees. So, some may be “semi-feral,” or some could be very unsociable (true ferals that must be “back yard cats” for now) and others may be harder to place due to visible characteristics rendering them “not pretty enough.” Some, on the other hand, may be handsome felines, docile and completely adoption-ready.
Having said that, please consider adopting one of the Lincoln Place cats, and help us spread the word that the Alliance has these cats available. You can visit SCA’s web site at www.straycatalliance.org for contact information. In lieu of adoption, you can make a donation or sponsor a cat. SCA also needs volunteers for activities at Lincoln Place to complete this project. The web site displays the appropriate buttons and menus for whatever option you choose. It is a fun site with photos of cats up for adoption.
You can make a difference in the lives of these amazing creatures. Please open your hearts and your homes to these cats. It just takes enormous love, that’s all.
By Charles Thomas