Our Society Still Has a Long Way To Go To Protect Animal Rights
Animal rights may have many “Likes” on social media, but the reality is still far from humane. Here is a perfect example of a beaten cat that was failed by our society, from the Police that was supposed to arrive to the site where the reported torture took place, to the shelter that did not offer a sensible solution to a family that stepped in to help. Where the society sadly failed, compassionate individuals and underfunded rescues stepped in, again. The sad thing that it was too late.
People think that “someone” will take care of the neglected and abused animals. Don’t we pay taxes? Read this story to see what you can really count on…. It’s not much.
Dispatcher took animal cruelty call seriously, 911 recording suggests, but Paterson police never arrived
PATERSON — When the police dispatcher took the 911 call about a tortured neighborhood cat last month, she asked detailed questions and assured a concerned family that help was on the way.
“I’m going to send a unit to you, and you give them all the information you can because they’re going to want it,” the dispatcher said. “I’m going to send them out there.”
But the woman who placed that call to police dispatch said Tuesday that after waiting for 45 minutes, she saw no patrols arrive at the corner of Matlock and Temple Streets, where the male cat, named Quattro, was found bloodied and critically hurt, wheezing, with a damaged eye and broken legs.
The woman’s teenage nephews, who hours earlier stopped a brutal attack on Quattro by a group of schoolboys, stayed waiting at his side for another hour. They said they, too, never saw any officers arrive.
The lack of police response to the incident has disappointed animal rights activists, who say that it illustrates a reality they see too often: that animal cruelty is not taken seriously. Police Director Glenn Brown said last week that an internal affairs investigation was under way to find out if units were ever dispatched and, if so, discover why they never reached the injured animal.
Brown did not return messages on Monday and Tuesday seeking his comments about the status of that investigation and comment on the 911 call recording obtained by The Record.
In their effort to seek treatment for Quattro, the teens went a firehouse but were told by firefighters there was nothing they could do. And a neighbor called a nearby animal shelter, where a worker told the struggling family that they would have to pay for Quattro’s veterinary expenses if they brought him there.
The teens, who are 12 and 14, placed Quattro in a box and eventually took him home that night, attempting to feed the friendly gray and white feline and nurse him back to health. But he languished without medical care for two days, until one of the boys’ teachers put them in touch an animal rescue worker.
“I hope somebody will find out where was the mistake,” said Renee Olah, founder of Chance at Life Cat Rescue in Hackensack. “This cat was left in this family’s house for two days because nobody helped them.”
After Olah’s group took Quattro to a veterinary hospital, he became unresponsive and was euthanized on May 15.
The family of the teenage boys, who have requested anonymity, learned of the abuse late on May 7. The teens told their mother and aunt about how that afternoon they stopped a group of about six younger boys from pelting the cats with rocks and a chunk of concrete. After hearing this, the aunt went with them to an alley near School 4 where Quattro remained, barely moving, she said.
“He wasn’t walking, he was breathing very shallow, he was trying to meow, but he couldn’t get air,” she said. “He was in really bad shape, inside as well as out. … It was disgusting.”
She said she first called 911 for animal control’s number. At that time, around 9:30 p.m., animal control was closed, so she called 911 again.
“Is there anyway we can get a patrol out here because there’s an animal severely injured and he’s about to die,” she said during the call. “Is there somewhere we can take him? In this case what can we do?”
The dispatcher took her phone number and location and told her to provide all the details about the cat’s attackers when police units she said she expected to send arrived on scene: “We’re going to need that,” the dispatcher said.
A few weeks ago, the woman said a high-ranking police officer conducting the internal affairs inquiry told her that police were dispatched, but he didn’t know why they didn’t make it to her location.
“He said he’s going to try to get to the bottom of it and assured me it was not going to happen again,” the woman said. “But once [they] failed like that, you can’t help but think it’s going to happen again.”
Mayor Jeffery Jones said he requested the internal affairs inquiry after a reporter with The Record told him about the apparent lack of police response.
“I know I called immediately, because I was bothered by the fact there may be a policy issue,” said Jones, who has discussed the issue with acting Police Chief William Fraher. “My concern is whether information gets dropped in the loop and how accurate we are in responding the units to wherever the call is.” Fraher could not be reached for comment.
Mayor-elect Joey Torres has said there should be a review of the police and animal control response to the incident. Animal control officer John DeCando said he never heard from police about the injured cat or he would have responded to help him. At some point, he said he did receive a call from a staff member of School 4 about the attack and referred her to the juvenile detective unit.
Three children – ages 6, 10 and 12 – were suspended by the school district and have since been criminally charged with animal cruelty. Animal rights activists, led by Olah, support the criminal charges and that the case will be heard by a judge.
In recent weeks, the activists have clashed with some Paterson residents and the city chapter of the NAACP who argue that as an alternative to the juvenile justice system, the community should be allowed to provide the children counseling and encourage some kind of punishment without going through the juvenile justice system.
Leaders in both groups are condemning hateful reactions in online forums, including racial slurs and epithets. Olah, flanked by Quattro’s rescuers and their mother, met with the Rev. Kenneth Clayton, who heads the NAACP, last week to discuss the issue. They continue to disagree on the issue of criminal charges – Clayton says he’s trying to encourage the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office to drop them – but they agreed to incorporate animal rights and understanding of race issues in each other’s activism.
The police response to Quattro’s injuries illustrate that society needs to show greater compassion for animals, Olah said. If officers had to be rerouted on a human emergency, the call could have been referred to animal control, and even if police couldn’t find the cat and his rescuers, the family was only a phone call away, she said.
“‘It’s only a cat, lets face it.’ I’ve heard that too many times with the officials,” Olah said. “If the police did care, they could have [treated it] as a true animal emergency.”
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