Saturday, October 30, 2010

Poor Reporting by WPLG on Hookworm

As some of you may have heard, there is a reported outbreak of hookworms on 50-52nd Street in Miami Beach. On WPLG, Local 10, they reported that the source was cat feces and that the city was going to trap the many cats and take them to Animal Services.

Sadly, WPLG has erroneously reported the facts which are very misleading.

First while it is true that humans can contract hookworms from cat feces, they can also get it from dog feces and human feces.  While there are many stray cats in the area, health investigators did NOT find any cat feces on the beach itself as originally reported. Cat feces were found nearby but not on the beach sand where the victims most likely contracted it when walking in bare feet.

We also know that residents take their dogs walking on the beach where they do defecate and the owners do not always pick it up. It happens here at our condo complex everyday. So it is possible the people infected with hookworm contracted it from dog feces.

Since the stray cats in the area are visible, they are to blame by WPLG reporter Rob Schmitt. What happened to journalistic integrity and doing homework or research?

Next, it was reported the stray cats were going to be trapped and taken to Animal Services which means they will be put to sleep.  The facts are that the City of Miami Beach never said that according to the Chief of staff.  What I do know is that the City is working with the Cat Network to trap the cats, get them sterilized and also apply topical medication to treat any parasites. 

It was also reported that residents would be fined for feeding cats.  What viewers need to know is that as long as tons of food and containers are not left unattended, volunteers can feed cats as long as they stay for the feeding to ensure no trash is left behind.

This is what we do here at Riverfront. We know how to feed the cats, what food they will eat and the proper amounts so there are no remaining crumbs attracting ants and insects. That is why we ask residents not to throw leftover human food into the alley. Some foods are harmful for cats.

I used to be a long-time viewer of Channel 10 but their journalistic reporting is no longer of high standing. There is no fact checking and grossly misleads viewers.

Please feel free to share this posting so residents do have the facts.

After many residents and experts called in with complaints of erroneous reporting, WPLG has since changed their report.  Here is the link to the latest report.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Can't the Humane Society or ASPCA help?

This posting is very important as it answers commonly asked questions about stray cats. I had the same questions and learned it's really the responsibility of a community, not the government or Humane Society to help these animals. That is why we need volunteers to continue our efforts to control the cat population.

1. Can't the Humane Society or ASPCA come out and rescue these cats?

Answer: both of these organizations are private entities with different goals. The Humane Society does NOT go out to the community. Rather they accept a very limited number of friendly, healthy pets that owners surrender or can not care for. The Humane Society then will find a new home for that pet.

The ASPCA, addresses a different problem--pets that are neglected or abused. ASPCA does wonderful work to rescue these animals, nurture and rehabilitate them. 

Neither organization goes out and traps outdoors cats and kittens.

2. Can't Miami-Dade Animal Services come out and trap and take these cats away?

Answer: Animal Services, as a county-run operation funded by our taxes, only picks up dead or injured animals on public property. They do not trap stray cats (feral or friendly strays).

However, Animal Services shelters will take in any animal, pet or strays. Since the shelter receives approximately 100 cats a day and due to limited space, friendly cats that are not adopted in five days are euthanized. So even if someone has to surrender their pet (dog or cat) because they are moving and the new condo does not accept pets, that dog or cat most likely will be put to sleep.

Therefore it is really the responsibility of a community--both residents and businesses and condo associations to address the issue together.  Unfortunately, there are no cat sanctuaries in Miami to relocate the cats to. Trapping any outdoor cats and "relocating" them to an island or park or any other location is illegal under Florida law.  It is considered "dumping and abandoning" as it is known that cats will instinctively run away in search of their original "home" where they are likely to get injured, starve or get killed.

The most effective solution is TNR---Trap, Neuter, Release.  If an outdoor cat is feral or wild, it should be trapped, taken for sterilization, and released back to the outdoors.  This limits new cats from joining the colony as cats are often territorial and this prevents cat population from growing. From there it's easy--just regular feedings and ensuring no cat is injured.

The Cat Network is a wonderful resource. They teach individuals and associations how to humanely trap the cats and where to get low cost sterilization and vaccinations, how to capture kittens, foster them and find them homes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's Raining Black Cats

Celebrity Cat: Otto from Los Angeles

Le Chat Noir was a fabulous event and a success!

If you missed this exciting, inaugural event, there are many photo slideshows to watch.

The day started with a Harley motorcycle ride from Peterson's South dealer to the EPIC Hotel in downtown Miami--the only five star hotel that allows pets!

The celebrity guest was biker cat, Otto, and his chauffer, Christopher Coppola (nephew to Francis Ford Coppola and brother to Nicolas Cage).

 Thanks to a wonderful photographer, Claudia Rehder, she captured the essence of the event!

Christopher Coppola and Otto arrive at the EPIC Hotel, downtown Miami

Christopher Coppola and Otto wearing Goggles

Otto and Christine connect

Otto and Christine fall in love

Back at the gallery, swimsuit models practice with fellow black cat models walking down catwalk.

Swimsuit model and Gypsy (black cat model)

Christopher and Otto arrive at art Gallery in Design District

Otto comfortably smiles at flashing cameras and walks through crowds/fans

Carole Stevens Bibisi and Christine Michaels
Carole Stevens Bibisi is the well known author of a book that champions the cause of black cats, "Tails of American Bronte". Visit her site at

Tia with Gypsy and Charlene with Dusky Rose
The two black kittens above were models for the evening and showed off their beauty, grace and intelligence. They shined on the catwalk as they walked on leashes. Both kittens are available for adoption! If you're interested in cats that are not "scared" or "skiddish" and love attention and people, these kittens are very special. They have been exposed to people and crowds since they were little. If you are interested in adopting them PLEASE CONTACT the Cat Network at

The event raised awareness about the plight of homeless cats and shone a spotlight on black cats to turn around myths associated with their black color. The video below shares the positive history of the black cats, photos of famous celebrities with their black cat, and Top 10 Reasons to Adopt a Black Cat.

To see more photos of the event by Tomas Loewy, click here.

You can save a life! Donate, volunteer, foster--anything. Contact Christine Michaels to help the Riverfront Cats.