Does the NYPD Care About Cats?

Grey and white cat

Old Man Grey, one of several feral cats reported missing by Marry Witty in Astoria. Photo by Joe Irizarry

It was early December when the first cat went missing. Feral cats come and go, so Mary Witty didn’t worry at first, but within two weeks, all except one of her regulars was gone. Suspecting foul play, she formed a group dedicated to the seven missing cats, Astoria7. She circulated petitions and contacted public officials. Soon reports of other disappearances poured in. By May, she had tallied more than 240 missing cats across four boroughs, all in the space of six months.

Initially the 114th Precinct turned her away, Witty said, but after she drummed up support, Inspector Kevin Maloney appeared to take on the case of Astoria’s missing cats. “It was getting media attention, so for a brief time he was helpful, and after that he was not,” Witty said. “Obviously the local precinct has other things to attend to besides this.” After all, the NYPD has human victims too. Maloney could not be reached for comment.

Before this year, animal victims in New York City were protected by their very own team of law enforcement agents at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The ASPCA had been granted the power to enforce animal cruelty laws by New York State in 1866, thanks to lobbying by founder Henry Bergh. Just like real police, modern day ASPCA agents had guns, uniforms, and the power to arrest. In fact, several were former cops. In the 2000s, they starred on Animal Precinct, a show that ran on Animal Planet for seven seasons and had multiple spin-offs. But its golden era would soon come to an end.

In July 2007, a New York Times story slammed the 18-person unit as ineffective and overwhelmed by the volume of complaints. A few months later, Animal Planet announced it was cancelling the show. Then over the next few years, the ASPCA laid off the unit’s leaders, Dale Riedel and Annemarie Lucas, and finally, in December last year, most of the remaining agents. On January 1, all enforcement duties were handed over to the NYPD.

Now that police have been on the job for nine months, are they actually looking out for the city’s animals, or have animal investigations fallen by the wayside as police focus on crimes against humans?

“It was a sad day for animals when they made that decision,” Lucas said. “To take all of that expertise and throw it all away is a real crime against the animals.”

The ASPCA disagrees.

“The partnership plays to each organization’s strengths,” said Natasha Whitling, an ASPCA spokesperson. “The NYPD has always had the authority to enforce animal cruelty laws, but they have a much larger force than our humane law enforcement.” The ASPCA still helps collect evidence that supports NYPD investigations and provides care for animal cruelty victims.

Yes, having the NYPD investigate cruelty investigations makes sense—if they actually do it, said David Favre, an animal law expert at Michigan State University, but he notes that animal-related crimes have not historically been prioritized by police.

Yet fears that the NYPD would under-investigate animal crimes were somewhat allayed in July when the department launched a dedicated animal cruelty squad. Local precincts still handle animal cases, but the new squad assists on big ones and provides guidance more broadly. The NYPD did not respond to requests for comment.

“Through June 30th, there were 70 arrests and nearly 200 animals rescued and treated by the ASPCA, an increase of nearly 160 percent and 180 percent, respectively, over the same period last year,” the ASPCA wrote in a press release. Whitling was unable to provide details about these figures, but arrest data from the Division of Criminal Justice Services do suggest an uptick. In less than eight months this year, there were 65 arrests across five categories of animal cruelty crimes, rivaling the whole-year average of 68 arrests for the last five years. In the same period, however, there were 5,966 calls reporting animal abuse to 311, meaning that at most 1.1% of animal abuse calls resulted in arrests in these crime categories. Using the ASPCA’s numbers and the January to June timespan, the proportion of calls resulting in arrest is still only 1.6%.

Law enforcement should take animal cruelty seriously, if not for animals, then for humans, according to Jarret Lovell, professor of criminal justice at California State University, Fullerton. “Often what happens is that where there is animal cruelty there is child abuse and domestic violence,” said Lovell, “so investigating animal cruelty often reveals these types of crimes.”

Lucas agrees that the NYPD should be involved in humane enforcement, but doesn’t understand why ASPCA agents couldn’t work alongside them.

Witty said neither the ASPCA nor the NYPD were of much help to her. When she called in December, the ASPCA hotline repeatedly disconnected.

She now counts at least 300 missing cats across four boroughs, and keeps track of where cats went missing and who reported the incidents in a detailed spreadsheet. Her numbers are estimates, she said, since from time to time different people might report the same cats missing.

Whitling declined to comment on the missing cats, but Lucas said such numbers are beyond anything she saw during her time at the ASPCA and of real concern. Given the volume of cases, however, she understands that the NYPD would prioritize crimes with tangible evidence–bodies and witnesses. Her agents would have done the same.


10 Responses to "Does the NYPD Care About Cats?"

  1. TNR Researcher  September 27, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    The more important question is: Why should anyone care about cats that you are more than happy to throw under the wheels of moving cars, let them lap-up antifreeze in any gutter, get eaten-alive from the inside-out by parasites, or die any other of the totally inhumane ways that you want all your free-roaming cats to suffer to death?

    The real question is: Why isn’t the police department locking-up every last one of you for animal-neglect, animal-abandonment, and animal-endangerment laws on every book in every county of every state?

    Sorry, you can’t throw your cats into traffic and then whine why nobody is trying to dive for your cats to get them out from under those cars that you threw them under. The only thing that works is locking you up for a long time and making sure that no animals are ever allowed to be under your criminally negligent “care” ever again for the rest of your phenomenally useless, animal-torturing, manipulative, and self-victimizing lives.

    • Lori  September 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      I could not have said it better. Domestic animals deserve to be safely contained and responsibly maintained. The world is not your litterbox. I saw yet another car killed cat yesterday. If you care so much about the lives of cats, then adapt to TENVAC.

  2. Randy Janssen  September 28, 2014 at 7:16 am

    The ASPCA gave voluntarily gave up its right to investigate animal cruelty, probably because it cost too much to do the job. The national animal rights groups like the HSUS, PETA and the ASPCA have become urban concentrated vegan cults. They raise millions of dollars by pretending to take care of dogs and cats, then spend it on attacks on agriculture and hunting. Local shelters complain about their aggressive fund raising sucking up all the money, so animals go wanting. All three have concocted stories about animal abuse. They have little or no experience with the animals they claim to protect and either misconstrue legitimate animal husbandry or take isolated instances of animal cruelty and say they are the norm. They get away with this because of the urban population of the US is separated from its food production and large animals. The country has become a society of small pet owners who view livestock the same as small lap dogs. If these groups have their way, primates will be viewed as human and meat eating will be outlawed. Their attack on food production is already causing an increase in cost. So unless you want to end up paying $10.00 a doz. for eggs, $20.00 a lb. for bacon $30.00 a lb. for chicken and $50.00 a lb. for beef, don’t support these groups.

  3. TNR Researcher  September 28, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Randy J., here’s some more information you can add to what you just said (a post I often paste to these animal-torturing cat-lickers):

    Can you spell “Hoax” & “Fraud”?

    These TNR cat-lickers (criminal outdoor-cat-hoarders) who re-spew all the highly manipulative and deceptive lies and misinformation of Alley-Cat-All-Lies didn’t do their due-diligence research.

    Here’s the very first link that any of their followers and supporters should have checked out.

    They don’t even meet the criteria to qualify for being a reputable charity organization under “Better Business Bureau” standards. While Becky and all her close friends are laughing all the way to the bank to the tune of $5M in assets with a $6M income. (Their 2013 financial report now puts their income at over $7.2M last year.)

    They all flew to Hawaii not long ago for another “cat-conference” because, for some unknown reason, they had to be there to discuss these issues. (I wonder how many cats could have been saved from freezing to the pavement this last winter from the price of all their flights and lodging and luxurious food, drink, and entertainment in Hawaii? But these TNR group-leaders were so warm and having so much fun!)

    For another good laugh check out how much Becky and her friends pay themselves with everyone else’s money.

    They have now been launching some damage-control with their new “Future Five” program to prove to everyone their true and trustworthy intentions. Awarding a princely $5,000 grant to some deserving group. $5,000 is only 0.1% of their assets, 0.08% of their yearly income. They might as well just sh** in the face of every last fool that ever donated to them.

    Support yet another organization that exploits and perpetuates the suffering of animals for their own personal financial gain, then try to sleep well at night.

    This is even more “rich”. I recently discovered that anyone who posts a request for financial help on Alley-Cat-All-Lies Facebook pages is then referred to this page of theirs:

    Not ONE link on that page refers to getting actual financial help from Alley-Cat-All-Lies themselves. And even more rich, their very first resource that they send people to, to feed their feral cats, is a national food-bank organization where people donate food to feed needy humans. They are taking the food out of the mouths of needy human infants to feed their diseased vermin cats.

    I don’t think I’ve seen a sadder and more sorry and despicable case of “charity” in my whole life before this.

    Oh wait, that’s right. I forgot. You MUST throw cats out into the streets with Becky Robinson’s TNR programs so they get ran-over by cars or attacked by other cats or other animals, get eaten from the inside-out by parasites or die any other of the myriad heinous and inhumane ways that nearly every last TNR cat dies from “loving attrition”. Then when you find them suffering to death from TNR’s “humane death by attrition”, you can parade them in the media to ask for even more $millions in donations to line your own pockets. This is why HSUS and SPCA loves TNR so much too. You can’t exploit suffering cats for $millions if you humanely euthanize them first! Oh no, you need them to die publicly in the streets if you are going to get any money from cats. It’s the ONLY value they have now — to suffer to death so those who exploit them can get wealthy.

    It’s the new money-making scam! Torture cats to death with TNR and then as they die-off from “attrition” exploit them in the media for even more money! You too can become a deceptive, manipulative, and morally reprehensible $millionaire by following this animal-torturing business-model invented by Becky Robinson!

    My mistake. Carry on.

    • LJC  October 1, 2014 at 12:14 am

      Well researched and stated.

  4. TNR Researcher  September 28, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Here’s some more information that these pavement-brained bambi-cartoon-educated cat-lickers might also enjoy knowing …

    If they advocate for cats as rodent-control on farms and ranches they’ve already doomed them to being destroyed by drowning or shooting when it becomes a financial liability more than any asset. Ranchers and farmers worldwide are fully aware that cats’ Toxoplasma gondii parasite can cause the very same birth defects (hydrocephaly and microcephaly), still-births, and miscarriages in their livestock and important wildlife as it can in pregnant women. Consequently, this is also how this cats’ brain-parasite gets into your meats and onto your dinner-tables, from herbivores ingesting this cat-parasites’ oocysts in the soils, transferred to the plants and grains that they eat. Not even washing your hands in bleach nor hydrochloric-acid will destroy this parasites’ oocysts if you have contracted it from your garden or yard that a cat has defecated in.

    This is why any cats are ROUTINELY destroyed around gestating livestock and wildlife-management areas in the most efficient, humane, and least-expensive method available. Common rural practice everywhere. The risk of financial loss from dead livestock and important native wildlife from an invasive-species cat is far too great to do otherwise. This cats’ parasite is now even killing off rare marine-mammals (dolphins, seals, otters, etc.) along all coastal regions around the world from run-off containing this cat-parasites’ oocysts.

    Children on farms and ranches also learn how to be a good steward of their lands when it comes to invasive domesticated species like cats, with one simple statement from the ecologically responsible parents (those who are directly dependent upon the very lands on which they live, including yourself), “If you see a cat more’n 100 yards from any building, shoot it! It’s up to no good.”

    So the next time you bite into that whole-grain veggie-muffin or McBurger, you need to just envision biting down on a shot-dead or drowned kitten or cat. For that’s precisely how that food supply got to your mouth — whether you want to face up to it or not. It’s not going to change reality no matter how much you twist your mind away from the truth of your world.

    If you want to blame someone for the drowning and shooting of cats, you need to prosecute yourself — every time you eat. Enjoy your next meal! At least 1 cat paid for it with its life.

    Here’s some other ways that everyone humanely kills livestock for your weekend barbeques and their own “pet” animals; outside of their psychotically isolated, myopic, bambi-cartoon-educated, pavement-brained, mommy’s-basement grasp of reality:

    granny-miller D0T com SLASH small-animal-livestock-euthanasia-on-the-homestead-what-you-need-to-know/

    You are aware, aren’t you, that out of ALL types of pet-owners on the face of this earth, that cat-owners are directly responsible for the suffering deaths of more animals and more species of animals than any other pet-owners on the planet. Cat-owners are a triple-threat to all animal life on earth. If not having animals killed for their own consumption, then they are having animals killed and crammed into bags and cans and having a “CAT FOOD” label slapped on them for their cat’s consumption, and if they let their cats outside then they are senselessly torturing billions of native animals and countless thousands of native species to death yearly just for their cats’ play-toys. As well as the countless BILLIONS of offspring of all those animals that are either starved to death or never get born. How many animals are they going to have senselessly killed or tortured today for their entertainment and their purely and wholly self-serving “but cats make me feel good!” values?

    • Woodsman revealed  September 29, 2014 at 11:55 pm

      OMG! Psycho Woodsman is now posting his insane rantings as TNR Researcher! The moment you said “cat lickers” I knew it was you. That last paragraph was just… insane. You seriously need help.

      • TNR Researcher  October 1, 2014 at 8:47 am

        The only people that that paragraph might even remotely seem “insane” to are those who have had their brains hijacked by their cats’ Toxoplasma gondii parasites and can no longer reason and think like a human-being anymore. Their thoughts demoted to that of protozoan awareness, where only its base biochemical survival matters, without concern nor regard for anything else in its environment. (Sound just like every last cat-licker on earth, doesn’t it.)

        In case you or anyone are curious — the term that I use of “cat licker” is justifiably and accurately gleaned from the growing fad of people who are obsessed with cats and want to do everything possible to make their cats feel good at the expense of all that is reasonable and sane. They are now licking their cats clean.

        It’s just another one of the many aberrant and mentally-ill behaviors of “cat lickers”.

        I cannot, in all good conscience and honesty, EVER use the term “cat lover” again to describe these heartless and spineless cretins. People who love cats do not throw them under the wheels of moving cars, let them lap-up antifreeze in a gutter, being eaten from the inside-out by parasites, or force them to attack one another to fight for territory by letting their cats roam free. One of the main selling points of TNR: forcing their cats to fight, often to the death, for territory. Absolutely NO different than people who run criminal dog-fight rings to see who wins. Both just as guilty of animal abuse. There are many laws in place in every county of every state that make it a highly punishable crime to force ANY domesticated animals to fight each other for their very survival.

        “Cat Lover” is an extremely oxymoronic label. “Cat Licker” is the only one that accurately works today.

  5. amfrisco  September 28, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    To TNR researcher – I know who you are and you’re going down very soon.

  6. LJC  October 1, 2014 at 12:21 am

    Love it researcher man….


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