Pompano Beach: Bailing the Ocean with a Thimble

David Aycock says he loves cats. Which is why he sends them—as many as he can—to the Broward County (Florida) animal shelters to be killed.

Having trouble following Aycock’s “logic”? Me too.

So are the folks at Broward County Animal Care and Adoption, according to a story in Friday’s South Florida Sun Sentinel.

“Broward County two months ago officially embraced a no-kill goal for its shelters, a move Miami-Dade County made just last week. But Broward officials and cat lovers concede the goal won’t be met as long as the shelters continue to fill up with feral cats, and for now, the cats continue to be put down.” [1]

Which is where Aycock, chief animal control officer for Pompano Beach, comes in. “While [Broward officials] try to achieve a no-kill shelter, he’s continuing his aggressive approach, sending scores of feral cats from Pompano Beach to their shelters.” [1]

Since last October, Broward has killed 5,790 cats. (The Sentinel-Sun insists on using the euphemism put to sleep, as if its readership skews heavily toward grade school children.)

Not surprisingly, Aycock is not a proponent of TNR. According to the paper, he says TNR “won’t work, because it’s impossible to catch them all.” [1]

“‘The simple fact is the public wants to believe that you can do it without killing them, and I wish in my heart that were the case,’ he said, ‘but the fact is, there’s no way.’” [1]

But lethal control methods will do the trick? Mark Kumpf, former president of the National Animal Control Association, doesn’t think so. He compares the traditional trap-and-kill approach to “bailing the ocean with a thimble.”

“There’s no department that I’m aware of that has enough money in their budget to simply practice the old capture-and-euthanize policy; nature just keeps having more kittens.” [2]

Aycock’s not interested in laws of nature, though; his approach is to impose laws on nature.

“Pompano’s law, which he said he wrote years ago, requires cats to be contained on a person’s property, taken care of, vaccinated, neutered or spayed. Free-roaming cats aren’t allowed. Community cats aren’t legally condoned.” [1]

It hasn’t worked in Akron, Ohio; why would it work in Pompano Beach?

It won’t, of course. But Aycock is undeterred. “Why are cats so expendable?” he asks rhetorically. “Why do we allow people to go out and feed cats, let them multiply, and then watch them die from disease, from cars, pellet rifles, poison?” [1]

Sound familiar? It’s the Travis Longcore approach to elevating the status of cats: wide-scale killing. And, like Longcore, Aycock has, when all is said and done, no feasible plan (humane or otherwise) for managing the population of stray, abandoned, and feral cats.

According to the Pompano Beach Public Works Department website, Aycock’s put in 25 years as the city’s animal control officer. More than enough time, I’d say. His old-school approach runs counter to both science and public opinion—Pompano Beach and Broward County deserve better.

Thanks to Dorian Wagner, of Your Daily Cute, for bringing this story to my attention.

Literature Cited
1. Wallman, B. (2012, July 6). Cats face death sentence at county shelter. South Florida Sun-Sentinel, from http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/fl-cats-overrun-broward-20120702,0,7715072,full.story

2. Hettinger, J., “Taking a Broader View of Cats in the Community.” Animal Sheltering. 2008. September/October. p. 8–9. http://www.animalsheltering.org/resources/magazine/sep_oct_2008/taking_a_broader_view_of_cats.html