Monday, December 20, 2010

Christine's Meeting with Riverfront Association

Dear Neighbors,

This is to update you on my efforts to educate the Riverfront Association about the Riverfront Cats and to get them involved in this community effort.  We have witnessed the millions of dollars spent on new brick pavers, landscaping including new palm trees, shrubbery and flowers. Obviously this is to turn around  the once eyesoar exterior and increase property values. I'm sure we all appreciate this beautification.

To provide a little background, last summer I left several telephone messages for the developer, Inigo Ardid of Key International to meet with me so I may share the effects of the cats on our community and the solutions to ensure they live humanely alongside residents.  My calls were never returned. I also sent NUMEROUS emails to the property manager, Lori, of The Wind, to forward my emails to Inigo and the Riverfront Association. I never received a response. 

To give them a third and final opportunity to express whether they are genuinely concerned about the community at large and not just money, I went up to Inigo Ardid one morning when I was on my way to work and told him I have been trying to reach him for a meeting. He referred me to Fabie Varona, new property manager for The Mint condominium.

I then proceeded to email Fabie to hold a brief meeting. She then passed me onto her assistant.  Telltale signs indeed. While briefly discouraged at being repeatedly "passed on", I am also persistent.  I gladly accepted the meeting with her assistant Susana Liera on December 16, 2010.

Essentially I am asking the Riverfront Association to add a budget line item to assist in controlling the cat population. I have spent thousands of dollars in the initial efforts but can no longer continue by myself. I started the ball rolling and have successfully recruited other volunteers to help feed the cats daily. $500 a year is a "nickel in the bucket" for the association given what they spend on other operational costs. This will help ensure the cat population does not keep growing. We the volunteers will continue to coordinate the trappings/sterilization of new cats, if the Association would pay for it. The volunteers continue to pay for the food out of their own pockets.  It's about teamwork! 

Below is a copy of the email I sent to Susana to "recap our meeting".  I will keep you posted of the progress.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thank you for your time Friday. It was a pleasure to meet you and to be able to share the facts and efforts in addressing the Riverfront Cats that affect our community. Most people know little to nothing about outdoor stray cats. As I mentioned, South Florida is facing a record high number of homeless pets and I wanted to help prevent downtown Miami from facing the crisis that Miami Beach is currently struggling with. Therefore, I'm glad to help educate the community to mitigate any concerns and complaints.
I just wanted to recap some important points:
1- There will always be cats on the property. Stray cats are ubiquitous for this section of downtown for a number of reasons. Even if all the current cats "packed their bags and went on extended vacation", a new colony would take it's place. This section  has all the ingredients for breeding new colonies.   Therefore I recommend containing the current cats which is manageable and not costly if we all contribute.
2- The Master Association can choose to help contain the number of cats as I have done, or ignore the situation and have 100+ cats run amok as we see in many parts of Miami Beach. If the association chooses the former, I also propose that we start to reach out to  neighboring businesses. We could become the model example of how to address the issue responsibly and successfully!
3- While I personally love animals, having excessive number of cats on a property is never a good idea.
4- Taking the cats to Animal Services means killing them (While they are healthy, these type of cats are NOT adoptable which means they would be put to sleep). Given the growing community support for our efforts, and the amount of money, hard work and commitment by residents, this is NOT an option.
5- Relocation is NOT an option as it is illegal under Florida law. There are no cat sanctuaries in South Florida. Taking them to Oleta State Park or any state park is 100% illegal.
6- I am happy to continue to monitor the situation but can no longer finance the spaying and neutering of new strays on top of feeding them. I am asking for the association's involvement. A simple budget line item of $500 a year should cover the sterilization of any strays that eventually make Riverfront their home. What's $500 out of 1,000 current units? a couple of dollars a year?
7- Any complaint by residents may not be legitimate. The fact that a dog may want to go after a cat is not legitimate complaint in the opinion of most responsible pet owners.  This could be interpreted that the dog owner needs to control their dog. There would be far more complaints from residents who know these cats are taken care of responsibly in following guidelines and philosophy of organizations such as  the Cat Network of South Florida, the Humane Society of the US.
8- The cats are both Riverfront pets (pets to all of us) and pets of the environment. They are like birds. They come and go.
Whoever financed the new palm trees and brick pavers could EASILY help with the cats. $500 is a nickel in the bucket compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on aesthetic improvements. I just received an email announcing that Starwood properties awarded monies to  local charities.  Well this effort affects both an investment and a charity effort. It's a no brainer! 
I would be more than happy to meet with Inigo, or Starwood Properties or future board. But the sooner the better to keep up efforts of containing the number of cats. This does not take an Act of Congress and could be resolved quickly!
Thank you again for your time Susana.
Wishing you a Merry, Merry Christmas!
Christine Michaels

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meet Johnny Walker

There's a new cat in town and his name is Johnny Walker.

One Sunday, when I was late in feeding the cats around 8:30pm, I jumped out of  my car and the car wash guys at The Wind exclaimed, "Thank God you arrived, it's cat pandemonium here!".  He explained there were cats up and down that streetfare awaiting something. I replied with profuse apologies that I had to work late and it was my turn to feed the cats. Hence I was late. Then suddenly this black cat ran up to me, begging for attention and affection. This was NOT Romeo or Zorro, the only two big black cats. This newcomer was much smaller but not a kitten.

Stunned, I asked the cat "Who are you?"  The second he allowed me to easily pick him up, I knew he was accustomed to humans.  Luckily for this black cat, he crossed my path!

Soon I noticed that the Riverfront cats did not welcome him (as expected) and kept attacking him. But this little guy would not take "no" for an answer and was fighting back.  He was determined to eat and find a comfortable home.  Good for him. Except he still has a couple of scar wounds to prove it.

Noticing his smooth stride, his friendly demeanor, and willingness to walk to you when called, I was on a mission to capture him and get him off the streets for good!

Johnny Walker is about 10 months old, he's undergoing treatment for ridding any internal parasites and tested negative for Feline Aids and Leukemia. Today he was neutered and is recovering nicely.  He should be ready for adoption in about one week!

This cat is special. His calm demeanor and easy glide have rightfully earned him his name, (although the Whiskey brand is spelled with an "ie" Johnnie).  He's not as playful for a young cat which means he may not have had siblings or he's just one cool cat who takes life easy.  Also he does not scratch furniture like most cats, only the single scratching post in my home.  But that could change. Time will tell.

In general I have found that black cats are more like dogs, very affectionate and  trainable.  Johnny Walker is special. Unfortunately I can not keep him but I'm doing my part to save one life, another life off the streets.

Look at him! He's absolutely gorgeous!
If you are interested in adopting Johnny Walker, contact Alicia at 786-205-6165 or email her at

Tails up!