Saturday, April 09, 2005

Complaints

Cats the Society was asked to take in today :- Four

We were sent an email about a radio programme yesterday where someone had complained that there were too many cats in a particular area. The volunteers in the area whom we alerted to this were understandably upset today in case the cats get rounded up.

What is upsetting is that there seems to be a lot of weight given to complaints against cats. For example, one thing that really irks me is anonymous complaints. If someone wants to complain and get somebody else or the cats into trouble, they should at least be willing to stand up and allow the caregiver or person being complained against the right of reply and to try and solve the problem.

Why is it that volunteers who tirelessly sterilise and manage the cats in the estate often have their comments/feedback brushed aside, but someone who anonymously complains is immediately dealt with? What I think is that some town councils and management committees forget that volunteers who look after the strays are also residents, and more than that, are residents who are actively helping to make the area they live in a nicer one. This is of course opposed to the complainants who pick up the phone, lodge a grouse and then do not actually help to resolve the problem or make the situation better.

Of course when the Society brings the matter of anonymous complaints up to town councils or management committees, we are often told that all complaints are dealt with on the basis of whether they are legitimate, but how much investigation is done? There's often no way as well to go back to the complainant and clarify on what the exact nuisance is, or to report if action is taken, because the complainant is not contactable due to their anonymity. I find that if someone is serious about resolving a problem, they are more than willing to work with volunteers to try and find a solution and in these cases, solutions are often found. Frankly, I fail to see the legitimacy of an anonymous complaint where someone says there are cats in the vicinity for example (which happens more often than you would think).

This brings me to another bugbear - the grounds of complaint, some of which border on the ludicrous. There are a LOT of other things that may be annoying in the vicinity, and yet nothing is done about them. There will always be cats - and people should just learn to deal with it. If the cats are causing a nuisance in some way, or are inconveniencing the other residents, then of course something must be done, but the fact that for example, sterilised, managed cats EXIST in an area should not be grounds for removal. Where do we draw the line otherwise? If the birds/leaves/grass/incense burning/my neighbours bother me, will they be removed too?

In one case I went to last year, the person who was being complained about told us that apparently a resident could SEE a cat in his window even though the block was across from the complainant's. The cat was not in bothering the resident in any way, except by merely being in the same field of vision. Yet this complaint was taken seriously.

Of course there are also some town councils and management committees which support the work of the volunteers and are willing to look at the matter objectively and then let both parties work it out. Kudos to them - and here's hoping that this enlightened minority will continue to grow in numbers.

On another front, the Society just confirmed that we will be presenting at Asia for Animals in June this year. I will be moderating one of the sessions in all likelihood. It is a conference organised by ACRES - and will be attended by delegates from all the world. It is open to the public, so do go to ACRES website if you want to register.

2 Comments:

Blogger Rebecca said...

Complaint abt seeing a cat in someone's window?? That's the lamest complaint I have heard...

Maybe I can offer some advices, we can get the complainant some curtains or a cheaper alternative, stick old newspapers on his windows.. lol

14/4/05 7:25 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

The person with the cat actually kept the windows closed, but then the complainant said they could see the cats THROUGH the window!

14/4/05 7:45 PM  

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