Wednesday, June 01, 2011

ACR Sends a Letter to the Director of the National Zoo

Alley Cat Rescue sent a letter to the director of the National Zoo requesting Nico Dauphine be suspended until a full investigation into the animal cruelty charges she is faced with has been completed. Below is a copy of the letter. We also encourage our members to send a letter to Director Kelly expressing your thoughts on the situation. You can find the Zoo's contact information here. Thank you.

Dear Director Kelly,

Alley Cat Rescue and our 110,000 members are very disappointed to learn that you are permitting Nico Dauphine to continue her research with the National Zoo, in light of the recent animal cruelty charges she is facing for allegedly poisoning cats in her neighborhood. In fulfilling the National Zoo's mission statement, you owe it to all the animals under your care AND to the citizens of the United States to ensure that all employees are providing “the highest quality care” to ALL animals and protecting ALL wildlife. By allowing Dauphine to continue her research with the Zoo’s Migratory Bird Center, where she directly works with citizens’ cats as part of the Neighborhood Nestwatch project, is highly hypocritical of the Zoo’s mission statement and goes beyond irresponsible.

Dauphine may say “her whole life is devoted to the care and welfare of animals," but history has shown that her devotion to animals clearly only extends to birds and does not include cats. In 2008, Dauphine wrote a letter to the St. Petersburg Times saying: “cats may be the single biggest direct cause of bird mortality, far outnumbering all other causes (including human hunters) put together!” On what science is this statement based...the same pseudo science that she and her colleague, Dr. Peter Marra, use to perpetuate the lies about cat predation? This statement and numerous others by Dauphine are not based on any scientific research; though she takes every opportunity to misrepresent statistics in order to paint a dark picture of cats.

In that same letter to the St. Petersburg Times, Dauphine speaks of taking it upon herself to control community cat populations by trapping them and taking them to a local shelter to have them euthanized. Though this method of management is not criminal and is widely accepted by local animal control agencies, it has been brought to our attention that Dauphine’s trapping cats in Georgia was not always conducted within the guidelines of the law. Luckily for her, official charges were never filed. However, this time her neighbors were not taking any chances when they suspected something was wrong. This time the Washington Humane Society was able to gather evidence needed to charge Dauphine.       

The American public trusts the National Zoo to protect and care for, not only the animals under its care, but for all animals. So how can your institution say, “We know what she’s doing would in no way jeopardize our animal collection at the National Zoo or jeopardize wildlife, so we feel perfectly comfortable that she continue her research.” Do you honestly believe that statement, knowing the current allegations against her? It is the National Zoo’s responsibility to the American public (especially since the majority of its funding comes from “federal appropriations”) to ensure its employees are of high moral character; and if for some reason a situation should arise that brings into question a person's character and intentions (like being charged with animal cruelty for example), that person should be removed from his/her position until a full investigation proves otherwise.

Washington, DC officials and residents support the use of trap-neuter-return for managing community cats. In December of 2009, the City Code was amended to read that TNR must be the course of first response when answering constituent inquiries related to stray and feral cat challenges. The Washington Humane Society, along with various other animal organizations, assists local residents with sterilization and vaccination of community cats year round. Cats in the DC neighborhood where Dauphine was allegedly poisoning cats are regularly cared for by residents and are part of a trap-neuter-return program. According to a national survey, an overwhelming majority of Americans (81%) believe that leaving a feral cat outside to live out his life is more humane than having the cat caught and killed by animal control. The American public does NOT support management practices of community cats that include killing the animals. Rather, citizens will support (and volunteer their resources) for programs that utilize non-lethal methods. By supporting Dauphine and her rogue activities, the National Zoo shows it does not take into account the public’s opinion, nor does it extend its mission statement to cats.

Again, Alley Cat Rescue is requesting that you start taking these allegations seriously by suspending Nico Dauphine from her position at the National Zoo until a full investigation is completed. Along with our members, we have also gathered an additional 700+ signatures from individuals who agree that Dauphine should be suspended. The American public requests your attention to this matter. Thank you.


Louise Holton
President and Founder

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