The controversial Guantánamo Bay Naval Base is no longer just home to a military prison, they now have a steadily growing stray cat population. It is estimated that there are 500-600 stray cats on the base, all unsterilized and unvaccinated. Last year, almost 200 feral cats at Guantánamo underwent euthanasia because the military base had no alternative method to address the cat population.
In March, a nonprofit organization called Operation Git-Meow issued a request to start an adoption program to help find these feral cats new homes.
The navy base commander Capt. Dave Culpepper rejected the formal proposal, citing regulations and a lack of authority over the matter. Instead, Culpepper’s team is “committed to maintaining an animal control program as guided by Navy and Department of Defense regulations and ensuring all species are legally and humanely managed,” the commander’s spokesperson, Julie Ann Ripley, told the Miami Herald.
Under its current policy, the base is bound to the practice of “trap, neuter, and release.” However, a percentage of Guantánamo’s stray cat population may be euthanized if deemed too ill, injured, or dangerous to the general public.
Operation Git-Meow—a play on Guantánamo’s nickname, Gitmo—intends to appeal the decision to the Department of the Navy, now proposing a new “no-cost solution” that would include volunteer veterinarians who could vaccinate and sterilize the cats. The group has even drafted an anti-animal cruelty rule to contend with the growing ill treatment of animals at the base. The proposal, if approved and implemented, would be free for taxpayers.
“Based upon the unique situation at Naval Station Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an aggressive trap, neuter, vaccinate, and release program funded by our organization would be a far more effective approach than simply trapping and killing the cats,” Meredith Ayan of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International told the Miami Herald.
In the meantime, the Git-Meow “proposal is under review,” said spokesperson Ripley, even though it would deviate from Navy regulations.
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