Abandoned cats are deserving of our compassion
I write to explain to Gazette readers that abandonment of animals is a violation of the state Cruelty to Animals law. The reasons are clear.
Abandoned animals are subject to myriad kinds of suffering associated with injury, predation, exposure to the elements and abuse by people, notwithstanding falling prey to hoarders. Animals are struck by automobiles, develop parasites and suffer from starvation, dehydration and disease. Life expectancy of abandoned cats rarely exceeds two to three years.
It is a life largely of struggle, compromise and misery for these animals. It can be heart wrenching to observe them.
As an example, this winter was a very harsh one, for people, for all living things. One frigid night, two cats were abandoned at our home. I was awakened at 2 a.m. by the cries of one cat at our back door. The cat fled at my approach. Minutes later, this creature was observable in the barn's floodlight; I could see and hear this animal wailing, almost a kind of Irish keening -- an animal crying in confusion, fear, disorientation and cold. This memory will long endure.
The following morning, their tracks in the snow told their story.
Attempts on my part to provide appropriate shelter and sustenance were woefully inadequate. These cats were, or quickly became, feral; they could not be approached or handled. Their presence was clearly known, however, by our own two felines. One warm day, our animals' stress resulted in a territorial, physical conflict with these challenged cats. I don't know how severely they were injured, I do know how traumatized our animals were.
In the end, these two creatures required humane box-trapping. I am thankful for the immediate availability of shelters to rescue and receive these animals. Shelter capacity and staff need to remain constant for the needs of these and other animals. Programs that spay/neuter/return feral cats must ensure that these animals are returned to guardians who will provide appropriate shelter in a reasonably safe environment and unconditionally provide for nutritional and other sustenance needs.
In closing, there are an estimated 50 million feral cats in the United States. Community problems and consequent animal suffering will continue until cats are afforded the same cruelty prevention and animal protection laws as dogs, involving their licensing, with differential fees to mandate spay/neutering.
Susan M. Gibson
The writer is a former director of the Animal Protective Foundation.
SCOTUS alters voter balance of power
In a series of 5-4 decisions, the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts has demonstrated its disregard for achieving a level playing field in the election process.
As a result of a June 2013 ruling, nine states no longer are subject to federal oversight for election decisions. Therefore, election changes in these states no longer require preapproval by the Justice Department. The assenting judges apparently believed that the nine states would voluntarily adhere to the intent of the oversight.
To the contrary, since the ruling, six of the affected states have moved to reinstate statutes that limit early voting and registration, require voters to show photo ID and allow the purging of voter rolls. These statutes disproportionately affect poor and minority voters.
A January 2010 ruling by the Supreme Court held that restrictions on independent political expenditures by corporations, associations and unions were unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Corporations now enjoy First Amendment rights that were once reserved for people. This ruling allows organizations the right to spend unlimited sums on ads and other political tools, calling for the election or defeat of individual candidates.
An April 2014 ruling of the court eliminated previous overall limits on how much individuals can donate during the federal two-year election cycle. Before the ruling, donors could not exceed a $123,200 overall limit during the two-year period. The ruling now allows a single donor to write a $5.9 million check to a joint fundraising committee controlled by an elected politician or party official, with that individual then distributing the money to individual candidates and local or state committees.
Apparently, the assenting judges in the January 2010 and April 2014 rulings believed that money would not influence the decisions of politicians. Any thinking individual would conclude that allowing unbridled contributions seriously limits the ability of poor and minority voters to impact elections.
The three Supreme Court decisions noted above suggest that the five conservative members of the Supreme Court are either naive or cynical regarding voting rights and campaign contributions.
Schenectady not a good site for casinos
It is wonderful hearing from knowledgeable people in regard to the development of Alco, especially John Garver's April 20 Viewpoint on the development of Alco. A project of this size in a flood zone could be devastating, as far as disrupting the river landscape. We certainly do not need more floods for the people in the surrounding area.
If people really want to preserve what is reasonably a quiet area, they will certainly vote no for a casino at the Alco site or anywhere in the city of Schenectady. Casinos should not be built in residential areas.
In regard to changing the landscape of the river: Kernan Davis' April 26 letter was about the warnings that the U.S. Geological Survey made after reviewing the topographic map of Anchorage, Alaska, when houses slid into the sea in 1964, as geologists had predicted.
Mary Siegel's April 28 letter, "Schenectady casino: More harm than good," describes the streets behind the casinos in Atlantic City: derelicts, beggars, drunks, check-cashing storefronts and the negative odors.
The casino would be too close to the Stockade section of Schenectady, the oldest historic section in New York state. One could imagine the traffic problems on the neighborhood's narrow streets.
Developers are interested in making money. How many people are affected negatively is secondary. This would definitely not improve our city.
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