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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Feral Cats on Rat Patrol

LA Times:

They are the homeless of the domestic animal world -- colonies of feral cats that roam residential neighborhoods and lurk around office buildings and commercial garages, scavenging for food.

Unlike other strays that might rub up against a leg hoping for a crumb or a head rub, these felines are so unaccustomed to human contact that they dart away when people approach. Feral cats cannot be turned into house pets. When they end up in municipal shelters, they have little hope of coming out alive.

On the job
click to enlarge

But one animal welfare group has figured out a way to save their lives and put them to work in Los Angeles. The Working Cats program of Voice for the Animals, a Los Angeles-based animal advocacy and rescue group, has placed feral cats in a handful of police stations with rodent problems, just as the group placed cats in the rat-plagued downtown flower district several years ago -- to great effect.

Six feral cats were recently installed as ratters in the parking lot of the Los Angeles Police Department's Southeast Division, and another group will be housed at the Central Division early in the new year.

Their reputation as furtive and successful exterminators grew after feral cats were introduced to the parking lot of the Wilshire Division nearly six years ago. Rats had been burrowing into the equipment bags that bicycle officers stored in outside cages; inside the facility, mice were sometimes scurrying across people's desks.

"Once we got the cats, problem solved," said Cmdr. Kirk Albanese, a captain at the Wilshire station at the time. "I was almost an immediate believer."

After Albanese moved to the Foothill Division in the northern San Fernando Valley, he introduced feral cats to the building's mice-infested basement in 2004.

"I think it's a very humane way to deal with a very stubborn problem," said Albanese, now assistant to the director in the office of operations at Parker Center, which has its own rat problem.

This sounds like a win-win situation.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Neva Walker Out: Candidates Step In

Neva Walker (DFL, 61B) is retiring from the legislature.

Eric Pusey at the Big E reports on the race:

Current and possible candidates: Matthea Little Smith, Jeff Hayden (also mentioned in an article in this week's Insight News), Russ Adams and Farheen Hakeem running as a Green Party candidate.

Eric points out this would be the best shot for Greens to win a legislative seat.

Doug Grow on Rich Stanek

Minn Post:

Both men have similar backgrounds. Stanek is a former state legislator and former Minneapolis cop. Fletcher is a former St. Paul City Council member and St. Paul cop. Both are said to have dark sides. Neither is saddled with any troublesome humility.

Both men have built-in strengths for the race. Stanek, who has designed a dress uniform fit for a Latin dictator, heads an office nearly twice as large as Fletcher, 800 employees to 400. But Fletcher has the home-field advantage, given that the convention — Minneapolis views to the contrary — is a St. Paul event.

Drop the name Fletcher around St. Paul police officials, or drop the name Stanek around Minneapolis police officials, and eyes roll -- and sometimes neck veins pop.


Stanek has shown his look-at-me! personality with the release of a so-called training video, "Twenty Days in August,'' which is supposed to be about how the sheriff's office responded to the collapse of the I-35W bridge." The Star Tribune's Mike Kaszuba noted that the $30,000 video does not bother to mention the work of Minneapolis police or firefighters, though those two groups had primary responsibilities for heading law enforcement operations at the bridge.

Stanek versus Fletcher. It promises to be the most entertaining event of the summer. But a warning to all Minnesotans: Under no circumstances get between either of these men and a television camera.