Women Due in Court on Charges They Care for Feral Cats

August 3, 2012

By John Burton

SHREWSBURY — When you call Ruth Rapkin’s Sycamore Avenue home in Tinton Falls, her voice message tells the caller: “I can’t come to phone right now. The cat’s got my tongue.”

But Rapkin and another woman will have an opportunity to talk about cats, or their lawyer will, when the two are expected to appear in municipal court on Tuesday, Aug. 7, on allegations of caring for a colony of feral felines.

Borough Animal Control Officer Henry Perez issued a series of summons charging Rapkin and Jeanette Petti, Oceanport, with failing to have at least five cats licensed and vaccinated against rabies and creating a “nuisance upon public and private property.” According to the summons, the cats allegedly soiled and defiled property, in violation of a local ordinance.

When contacted on Aug. 1, Petti declined to speak specifically about the charges. “I’m waiting for the next court appearance before I make any comment,” she said. “There’s a lot involved. We’re trying to do the right thing.”

Rapkin and Petti’s lawyer, Isabelle R. Strauss, Toms River, did not immediately return a call placed to her office.

Perez, who also serves as Red Bank’s animal control officer, did not respond to numerous calls requesting comment on the matter.

A written request by The Two River TimesTM under the state’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA) provided copies of the summons and a narrative of events and allegations drafted by Perez and Karen Lloyd, an assistant to the borough clerk.

According to the information supplied, the animal control office received an anonymous phone call back in March complaining about a cat colony on Avenue of the Commons.

Perez then contacted the two women in March. Rapkin told Perez that Petti was the primary owner of the property and she worked as Petti’s assistant. Perez indicated he told the women the makeshift cat shelter on the property would have to be removed along with the cats.

By April, according to Perez’s written statement, Petti allegedly told him she was unable to relocate the cats and wanted to discuss the matter with the mayor and borough council.

Mayor Donald Burden also declined to make any public comment on the matter on advice of legal counsel.

In his meeting with the borough attorney and administrator, Perez said in his report, officials were “all in agreement with the borough ordinance due highly to the health issue that this could cause, especially being so close to a school,” presumably meaning the Creative Learning Center, 160 Avenue of the Commons, a private K-1 nursery school.

In June, Jerry Rosenthal, executive director of the Monmouth County SPCA, acknowledged being aware of the Shrewsbury situation, though the agency was not directly involved.

“In terms of the larger issue,” of addressing feral cat populations, Rosenthal explained, “we are advocates of a trap-neuter-return program.”

The program has been formally adopted by Sea Bright, Highlands and Eatontown. SPCA representatives assist in rounding up the wild cats, vaccinate them and help find caretakers with appropriate sites for the animals.

The program has been very effective in addressing feral populations, basically eliminating the problem for a town in a few years, he said.

Beach towns, like Sea Bright, are prone to having a feral cat problem. He said people who come for the summer sometime “leave the cat” when they return home.

“The problem starts off with irresponsible pet owners,” Rosenthal charged, leaving it to his group to work with some private organizations and individuals to remedy it.

Homes can often be found for cats if they are young enough and haven’t become truly feral. The prospect for older ones, which have been living on their own for some time, is more final. “We will have to put that cat down because it’s unadoptable,” Rosenthal said.

“There are always Good Samaritans who take on situations. They say, ‘I’ll feed them and take on the responsibility,’ ” Rosenthal said. “The key thing is are they accepting responsibility for the long term?”



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  1. So Susan & Kyle – if you had a child attending that school where the cats use the playground as a litterbox, you’d be ok with that?

    Somehow, I DOUBT THAT.

  2. The residents of Shrewsbury have a rare opportunity here to rally behind a positive cause along with telling their local elected officials to spend their time and tax money more wisely. The two women that are being dragged into court are upstanding citizens who have used their own time and money in an attempt to compassionately deal with a feral cat population. EVERY town has feral cats, that is not a debatable fact. It’s how the towns address the situation that makes all the difference. The most productive option is to establish a Trap, Neuter, Return program using local volunteers. The cats are trapped, neutered/spayed, given their shots, and returned to where they were captured. As the article mentions, this has worked very well in the other local towns. I should know, I’m a volunteer in the Highlands program. And luckily enough, Shrewsbury already has two women who are willing to volunteer their time. Shrewsbury is very lucky to have them. They should be put in charge of the program and treated with respect for their charitable work. But what is happening instead? They are being dragged into court so everyone can spend money on attorneys and in the meantime the cat situation will only grow worse. It’s an outrage. It’s politics at its worst and the citizens of Shrewsbury should speak out on behalf of these two women. This is rational/moral versus political/ignorant. If caring and charitable women of Shrewsbury are being publicly attacked by local officials, just think about what they might come knocking on your door for next. Wake up and speak out now!

  3. “There are always Good Samaritans who take on situations. They say, ‘I’ll feed them and take on the responsibility,’ ” Rosenthal said. “The key thing is are they accepting responsibility for the long term?”. Ms Rapkin and Ms Petti have been feeding, trapping, neutering/spaying and returning these cats for almost 20 years, using their own funds and asking nothing from the township/city. If that is not taking responsibility for the long term, I don’t know what is.

    I find it rather ironic that anyone in the complex where the cats are located would start to complain about the cats being there right after Henry Perez found out that the cats were there. Up to then, all the tenents either enjoyed the cats or ignored them. Seems to me the cats are not the real problem.


    FACT: Trap & Kill failed because cats cannot be trapped faster than they exponentially breed out of control.

    FACT: Trap & Sterilize (TNR) is an even bigger abject failure because these man-made ecological disasters cannot be trapped faster than they exponentially breed out of control, and they also continue the cruelly annihilate all native wildlife (from the smallest of prey up to the top predators that are starved to death), and the cats continue to spread many deadly diseases that they carry today — FOR WHICH THERE ARE NO VACCINES AGAINST THEM. Many of which are even listed as bioterrorism agents. (Such as Tularemia and The Plague — Yes, people have already died from cat-transmitted plague in the USA. No fleas nor rats even required. The cats themselves carry and transmit the plague all on their own.)

    FACT: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY _NOTHING_ HUMANE ABOUT TNR. Nearly every last TNR’ed cat dies an inhumane death by road-kill, from cat and animal attacks, environmental poisons, starvation, dehydration, freezing to death, infections, parasites, etc. And if very very lucky humanely shot to death or re-trapped and drowned (the two most common methods employed on all farms and ranches to protect their gestating livestock’s offspring and valuable native wildlife dying from cats’ Toxoplasmosis parasites). This doesn’t begin to count the thousands of defenseless native animals that cats skin alive and disembowel alive for their daily and hourly play-toys. The only difference in destroying cats immediately and humanely instead of trapping, sterilizing, then releasing them to an inhumane death; is that money isn’t going into an HSUS or SPCA board-member’s pocket, veterinarian’s pocket, cat-food company CEO’s pocket, or a drug-company CEO’s pocket. And that’s the ONLY difference!

    FACT: Cats are a man-made (through selective breeding) invasive species. And as such, are no less of a man-made environmental disaster than any other caused by man. Cats are even worse than an oil-spill of continent-sized proportions. They not only kill off rare and endangered marine-mammals along all coastlines from run-off carrying cats’ Toxoplasma gondii parasites, they destroy the complete food-chain in every ecosystem where cats are found. From smallest of prey gutted and skinned alive for cats’ tortured play-toys, up to the top predators that are starved to death from cats destroying their ONLY food sources. (Precisely what cats caused on my own land not long ago.)

    FACT: Hunted To Extinction (or in this case, extirpation of all outdoor cats) is the ONLY method that is faster than a species like cats can exponentially out-breed and out-adapt to. Especially a man-made invasive species like these cats that can breed 2-4X’s faster than any naturally occurring cat-species.

    FACT: Alley Cat ALL-LIES of NYC have reduced feral cats in their own city by 0.08% to 0.024% (as the months go on that percentage becomes more insignificant), allowing more than 99.92% to 99.976% to exponentially breed out of control. Here’s how Alley-Cat-ALL-LIES’ deceptive math works: If you TNR 4 cats and 3 get flattened by cars this translates to 75% fewer feral-cats everywhere. Alley Cat ALL-LIES can’t even reduce cats in their own city, yet they promote it as a worldwide solution. Then even bigger fools fall for it and promote it.

    FACT: When researching over 100 of the most “successful” TNR programs worldwide, JUST ONE trapped more than 0.4%. Oregon’s 50,000 TNR’ed cats (the highest rate I found) is 4.9% of all ferals in their state. Yet, by applying population growth calculus on the unsterilized 95.1% they will have trapped only 0.35% of all cats in their state sometime this year. <0.4% is a far cry from the required 80%-90% to be the least bit effective.

    FACT: Their mythical "vacuum effect" is a 100% LIE. A study done by the Texas A&M University proved that any perceived "vacuum" is just the simple case that CATS ATTRACT CATS. Get rid of them all and there's no cats there to attract more. I proved this myself by shooting and burying hundreds of them on my own land. ZERO cats replaced them FOR OVER 2 YEARS NOW. If you want more cats, keep even one of them around, more will find you. That university study also found that sterilized cats very poorly defend any territory. Non-sterilized cats, being more aggressive, take over the sterilized cats' resources (shelter & food if any). If there is any kind of "vacuum effect" at all, it is that sterilizing cats cause non-sterilized cats to restore the reproductive void.



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