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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Save a Gato calls for opposition to Paseo del Morro cat removal plan


By The Star Staff


Save a Gato, the leading nonprofit organization for the conservation of cat communities through the TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) method, invited cat lovers of Old San Juan on Tuesday to participate in a public meeting convened by the National Park Service to discuss its proposal to remove the cats that have lived for decades in Paseo del Morro in the Old City.


The organization’s spokesperson, Lara Cartagena, said the federal agency will hold two public meetings, today and Thursday, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Castillo San Cristóbal Visitor Center in Old San Juan.


“It is important that all cat lovers make their voices heard at the public meeting called by the federal government,” Cartagena said. “For more than 20 years, Save a Gato and its volunteers have cared for and maintained the Paseo del Morro cat colony without help from local or federal authorities. We find it incredible that, even though we have signed several agreements with the National Park Service since 2005, the agency has barely fulfilled its responsibility to now announce, without any consideration, the removal and elimination of the cats from the Paseo.”


Last Friday, Save a Gato volunteers held a meeting with National Park Service staff in Puerto Rico, where they let the agency know that its plan does not comply with federal conservation laws, that it is vague, that its conclusions are not supported by evidence, and that the organization intends to vigorously oppose it.


“We made it clear that the Paseo cats cannot be removed, which we know means ‘euthanized,’” Cartagena said. “All situations outlined in this proposal have a solution that does not involve removing the cats. The National Park Service has abandoned the area, eliminating nighttime surveillance and turning it into a place for unscrupulous people to leave cats, a crime under Law 154. Even without their support, Save a Gato feeds, maintains and finds homes for most cats abandoned there. Still, our efforts, without government support, are not enough.”


The Save a Gato spokesperson stressed that, in addition to attending the public meetings, the public can submit a public comment until Nov. 22 through the following link: https://bit.ly/salvemoslosgatosdelvsj, or by regular mail to SAJU Superintendent, Att: Paseo Cats, 501 Calle Norzagaray, San Juan, PR 00901.


“We already feed the cats, sterilize them, vaccinate them, take them to the vet and take care of them,” Cartagena said. “They are a historic part of the Old San Juan community. We will not allow them to be eliminated and Old San Juan to be filled with rats.”

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