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Archive for Steve Irwin–Animals in the Wild

Our CoExistence with Animals and the Conflicts that Arise:”To Dismay of Inspectors, Prowling Cats Keep Rodents on the Run at City Delis” by By KATE HAMMER (Article published in the New York Times on December 21 2007

FRUSTRATION.jpgI have had cats, dogs, guinea pigs,  and a hamster as pets.  Since I was a  child my mother has had a love of animals.  I have developed a love of animals too. 

If I was a more intelligent human being I would have been able to take up a career as a Veterinarian, or zoologist, or even been   like the poor   deceased  Steve Irwin,   that was so famous for his care and interaction with extremely wild animals ( who died from the accidental Stingray stabbing). 

 I think I got this way of thinking from watching Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom,”  or Jacque Cousteau.     One of my all time favorite cable programs is animal planet.  As an adult I have come to love “Animal Planet” on cable. 

I only have a difficult time watching the shows that highlight animal rescue based on animal abuse.  I cannot stomach abuse programs.  I become too emotional.  But I stay glued to the television until the show is over.

  But then I think about how my mother  handily (with my help of course between the ages of 12 and 20 years old–believe it or not!***I used to volunteer and care for or walk animals at the Freeport Animal Shelter)  saved cats and dogs on the streets.  My mother would find organizations that would donate food,  and spay for free and then she would place adds in the news paper to get the “saved animal a home.”  

My mother developed friendships with two women who helped her with “newspaper”, and veterinarian’s that saved animals when injured or treated infections for a cheaper price (since it was based on the animal rescue.) 

My mother would often go to car junk yards and find female dogs that had just given birth to  puppies, or skinny male dogs wandering a neighborhood hungry — and bring them food late at night or early in the morning. 

 My mother was fearless!  My mother never, ever got bit by animal!  Never!  Oh, and neither did I!  Giving an animal space, and time to adjust to you as the helper  takes time….but it can be done.    

 Because   my mother assisted animals as a younger woman as I was growing up,  I feel that it will always be my duty to maintain that mentality as much as possible.  Thus the reason for the following article that I am highlighting here today.   The above title tells it all.  

We as humans have to co-exist with each other and the  around us.  It does appear to be a great idea for bodega owners to use cats to help cut down on the mice and rat populations that generally frequent food stores of any size. 

However,  the discussion on the health code is crucial.  While I was pregnant with my son (who is now 14 years old)  I was told that a pregnant woman should not handle cat feces!

  Well,  even when I was a kid, cleaning the kitty litter box…was my most dreaded chore!  I could not stand the smell and the look of the old fashioned kitty litter box!  I would look at the clumps of waste rolled up in the sandy mixture of the kitty litter box and feel sick to my stomach. 

 —But I understand that the doctors have explained that the bacteria is dangerous to a pregnant human.  Thus my understanding of the Board of Health on the illegal practice of a cat being in a bodega! 

 Question:  Which is worse,  the cat in the store, or the rat on the floor of the store, and in the packages and on the shelves throughout the store ALL NIGHT LONG?  When I was watching Animal Planet station I saw a program called “EXTREME ANIMALS.”  

This program would highlight extreme characteristics of various animals from the tiny to the gigantic!  One night I saw a highlight on rats.  It showed how a rat can “swim” through the pipes of a house and even bore a hole through a household pipe that holds water in your own house.  I could not believe it!

Then you know what happened?  My mothers home,  where we lived at the time had a strange occurrence!  I noticed in the basement,  where lighting was poor,  there were mounds of dirt around by the corners of the finished basement walls and behind the toilet in the basement. 

 I said to myself….where did this stupid dirt come from????  I thought my dog had done something crazy, like bring dirt into the house. 

 But I found the culprit!  It was a rat….or several rats!  My mother as I have written in the past,  owned a very large lot.  Directly behind our piece of land in Springfield Gardens Queens,  there had been an abandoned lot for many, many, many years.  Suddenly money was pouring in from the banks and people developed the land behind our house and built two houses. 

 After the houses were built, now we received the fall out from the rats.  My mothers home was in her possession at that time from the year of 1955 to the year 2006!  Crazy Right???!!!  My mother had that house many years. 

 I was told that rats can eat through the foundation of a house.  I thought that a mole had gotten into the house….but it was a rat. 

 Look,  I will not go any further….just know that I eventually MOVED OUT OF THAT HOUSE!— So in my defense of the store owners who keep cats…..I understand the conflict that they are having.

  If they do not do something and the legal pest control methods do not work…What to do?  What to do?  Rats will RUN YOU OUT OF YOUR OWN HOUSE—IF THEY ARE NOT CONTROLLED! 

 I do not like to “kill any thing”—but let us be realistic.  Safety,  and protection for humans is a must.  But the methods by which we control pests must be evaluated constantly!  

 Read the following article….respond and tell me what you think.  It gives, *excuse the expression…food for thought!

To Dismay of Inspectors, Prowling Cats Keep Rodents on the Run at City Delis

Richard Perry/The New York Times

Holly scares the rodents away at home, a deli in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

To Dismay of Inspectors, Prowling Cats Keep Rodents on the Run at City Delis

Richard Perry/The New York Times

Holly scares the rodents away at home, a deli in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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Published: December 21, 2007
Across the city, delis and bodegas are a familiar and vital part of the streetscape, modest places where customers can pick up necessities, a container of milk, a can of soup, a loaf of bread.

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Richard Perry/The New York Times

Oreo roams at a deli in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Amid the goods found in the stores, there is one thing that many owners and employees say they cannot do without: their cats. And it goes beyond cuddly companionship. These cats are workers, tireless and enthusiastic hunters of unwanted vermin, and they typically do a far better job than exterminators and poisons.

When a bodega cat is on the prowl, workers say, rats and mice vanish.

That is the case at a narrow corner store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where a gray long-haired tabby named Halloween goes on regular patrols when she is not lounging on a plaid bed tucked behind dusty rows of Schweppes ginger ale and empty cardboard boxes.

“In the morning she is lazy, it is her nap time,” said Urszula Jawor, 49, the deli’s manager, a Polish immigrant who smiled with motherly pride at Halloween, adding that the cat was named for the day she wandered in off the street and claimed the Bedford Avenue store as her home.

“But in the afternoon she is busy,” Ms. Jawor said. “She spends hours stalking the mice and the rats.”

To store owners, the services of cats are indispensable in a city where the rodent problem is serious enough to be documented in a still popular two-minute video clip on YouTube from late February (youtube.com/watch?v=su0U37w2tws) of rats running amok in a KFC/Taco Bell in Greenwich Village. Store-dwelling cats are so common that there is a Web site, workingclasscats.com, dedicated to telling their tales.

But as efficient as the cats may be, their presence in stores can lead to legal trouble. The city’s health code and state law forbid animals in places where food or beverages are sold for human consumption. Fines range from $300 for a first offense to $2,000 or higher for subsequent offenses.

“Any animal around food presents a food contamination threat,” said Robert M. Corrigan, a rodentologist and research scientist for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “And so that means anything from animal pieces and parts to hair and excrement could end up in food, and that alone, of course, is a violation of the health code.”

Mr. Corrigan did concede that some studies have shown that the smell of cats in an enclosed area will keep mice away. But he does not endorse cats as a form of pest control because, he explained, the bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and nematodes carried by rats may infect humans by secondary transfer through a cat.

Still, many store owners keep cats despite the law, mainly because other options have failed and the fine for rodent feces is also $300. “It’s hard for bodega owners because they’re not supposed to have a cat, but they’re also not supposed to have rats,” said José Fernández, the president of the Bodega Association of the United States.

Luis Martinez, 42, has managed his brother’s grocery in East New York, Brooklyn, for two years. At first, despite weekly visits from an exterminator, the store’s inventory was ravaged constantly by nibbling vermin.

“Every night I had to put the bread in the freezer,” he said, pointing at shelves filled with bread and hamburger buns. “I was losing too much inventory. The chips and the Lipton soups all had holes in them.”

Then, last winter, a friend brought Mr. Martinez a marmalade kitten in need of a home. Mr. Martinez, who was skeptical of how one slinky kitten could fend off an army of hungry rats, set up a litter box in the back of the store, put down an old fleece jacket and named the kitten Junior.

Within two weeks, Mr. Martinez said, “a miracle.”

“Before you’d see giant rats running in off the streets into the store, but since Junior, no more,” he said.

Junior sometimes brings Mr. Martinez mouse carcasses as gifts, which he said bothers him less than the smell that permeates his store when the exterminator’s victims die and rot under a freezer.

In October, a health inspector fined Mr. Martinez $300 and warned him that if Junior was still there by the time of the next inspection he would be fined $2,000.

“He wants me to get rid of the cat, but the rats will take over if I do,” Mr. Martinez said. “I need the cat, and the cat needs a home.”

Because stores do not get advance notification of an inspection, Mr. Martinez is trying to keep Junior in his office as much as possible. Many bodega owners reason that a cat is less of a health threat than an army of nibbling rats. “If cats live in homes and apartments where people have food, a cat shouldn’t be a threat in a store if it’s well maintained,” Mr. Fernández said.

Some animal rescue groups, like the Spay and Neuter Intervention Project, support the legalization and regulation of store cats so that owners would be required to provide basic veterinary care and to spay or neuter their animals.

At a corner store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Andre Duran, one of the owners, said he had kept a cat for six years and had never been fined.

“That’s Oreo,” he said, as he lifted a tiny black cat with white paws into his arms and carried her like a football. “No one’s ever complained about cat hair in their sandwiches, and if she weren’t here, you bet there’d be bigger problems than hair.”

As a line formed at Mr. Duran’s cash register and he excused himself to take orders, Oreo’s ears perked up and she slunk away toward the back of the store. She was, perhaps, in pursuit of something.

Well,  what would you do as a store owner?  Would you keep cats because they appear more affective than traditional pest control methods or would you follow the rules of the Board of Health? 

 If it is really true that cats keep mice and rats away…..it makes me wonder!  Can there be a method that could be developed that would maintain a pristine, clean environment in a store and yet keep the rat and mice population down?  Lets discusss it and maybe come up with a solution.

Till next animal interest blog—-RIVEROFLIFELISAJOY!

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