Leading pets in lets campaigning organisation AdvoCATS has joined forces with fellow campaigners at CatsMatter to publicise this year’s World Animal Road Accident Awareness Day, after their founder lost one of her cats in hideous circumstances at the beginning of September.
Jen Berezai of AdvoCATS takes up the story: “Simba was a hugely confident, friendly ginger & white tabby, with a penchant for wandering. Ironically we’d only had him four months when we lost him; his previous owner (an AdvoCATS former client) had wanted to rehome him as he was crossing several main roads on his escapades”.
“He didn’t turn up for supper one evening, which was not unusual, so we weren’t unduly worried, but when he failed to appear for either meal the following day, alarm bells started to ring. I scoured the local Facebook pages, and found what I really hadn’t wanted to see : a ginger and white cat reported hit & killed on a minor road just a couple of streets away the previous day. We headed over to the site, but in the dark there was nothing to see, just some marks on the road. We had posted on Facebook that he was missing, and produced flyers and posters, and over the next couple of days, slowly pieced together enough information to suggest that the cat who had been killed was likely to have been Simba. Then came the phone call. A woman living just round the corner from the accident site had asked her neighbour to “do something” as it “wasn’t pleasant.” So what did he do? Scraped the cat off the road and dumped him in a public waste bin.”
“I spoke with Erewash Borough Council, who were incredibly helpful, but the bin contents had already been collected and passed on…I spoke to Veolia Waste, again, very helpful, but it was too late, and rubbish sent over from Erewash had already been sent to the incinerator.”
“At this point, we still didn’t know for sure if it was our boy. I begged the woman to let me go and see her/her neighbour to ask some questions and show some pictures, but she ignored my calls and messages. I knew which road she was on, so I walked round, with a mind to knock on every door til I found her…but I chose to visit the accident site again first. “Oh Simba” I whispered quietly. “I wish we knew if this was you or not.” Crossing over to the other side or the road, I wandered down a few yards more, and then I saw it. A very distinctive little green collar bell, slightly squashed but certainly recognisable. Closer investigation revealed a small piece of broken green plastic. Both items were clearly identifiable against enlarged images : they were from Simba’s collar, and we had our answer. Our boy was dead, and, worse, had been chucked in a bin like a piece of trash, with no thought for his dignity, his owners’ feelings or indeed any semblance of basic decency.”
“There is nothing we could have done to prevent Simba being killed, except keep him inside, which would have made him miserable. Some cats are suited to the indoor life, Simba was not one of them. But he was loved, and he was microchipped. If he’d been taken to a vet, if it was law to report any such accidents, we would have at least been able to lay him to rest, but that last thing that we could have done for him was denied us by someone who thought it acceptable to bin him. That hurts almost as much as losing him in the first place.”
AdvoCATS, which champions pets in rented accommodation, and CatsMatter, who challenge the lack of laws that protect cats on the road in the UK, are already well known to each other: CatsMatter were one of the first organisations to sign up for AdvoCATS’ “Heads for Tails!” campaign to make renting with pets easier, which was largely responsible for the inclusion of the issue on the Government’s renters reform white paper, published in June this year.
World Animal Road Accident Awareness Day was established by CatsMatter with the aim to commemorate, promote and further mobilise action to help stop animals being hit on the road and left by drivers, and is held each year on the 10th of October.
Unlike animals such as dogs, cats do not have the same protections should they be hit by a car. Why? Do dogs matter more than cats? Do their owners love them more than cat owners love their cats? Of course not! A cat is an animal that deserve to helped if injured, or shown dignity and respect in death, and it should not be a big ask that their humans, who love them very much and consider them family members, are respectfully notified should the worst happen. In this so-called animal loving country in 2022, it cannot be right that cats can be hit by a car and left in the road, or disposed of like rubbish by those who find them.
World Animal Road Accident Awareness Day is recognised internationally and aims to be a period to observe the pressing issues of concern and raise awareness. It also aims to be a day to remember the fallen and pay tribute to and speak up for lost beloved pets.
Mandy Hobbis of CatsMatter adds “One such very loved cat was Jen’s cat Simba. The AdvoCATS team work tirelessly with rescues, landlords and tenants to ensure as many pets as possible can stay with their families in rented properties. With all the dedication and hard work Jen puts in to help people and their pets, it is even more sad that such help was not given to Simba, Jen and her family when they needed it.”
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