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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Mattfield

The Latest Casualty of NJ Lawbreaking

Magic the friendly stray cat died of injuries sustained after being left outside

Many of our supporters have been following a recent campaign to save Magic, a friendly stray who was found by one of our 50 Feral Fix voucher recipients in Paterson. Our caring voucher recipient was not feeding him, but saw him struggling to drag his lifeless back legs behind him to attempt to feed himself at her colony. She followed him back to a neighbor's yard who refused to give her information or assist in any way. Our Feral Fixer quickly acted to trap him and get him to PFA for surgery, since he wasn't fixed, either.

As a low cost spay/neuter clinic, PFA was not able to do orthopedic surgery, but they did recommend it and provided x-rays. Kathy jumped into action and started calling vets, and while there are orthopedic veterinary surgeons, virtually none were available or able to assist before weeks or days passed of his excruciating pain over Memorial Day weekend.

We ended up at Eclipse, a great emergency vet who gave us substantial discounts for immediate testing and care. With clean bloodwork, he was cleared for surgery the following day and pulled through, standing and eating days after with an absolutely fantastic foster (the same woman who pulled him off the streets!).

Sadly, because outdoor cats do not come with histories, and many people simply turned away from his suffering, we had no idea that his liver and kidneys were about to fail and pump toxins into his young and otherwise healthy-looking body. Just over a week later, Alicia rushed him back to Eclipse because he was no longer eating. That evening, after confirming with more testing and an ultrasound, our hopes were dashed as we were advised and agreed to humanely euthanize Magic.

Magic should never have been outside and abandoned; however, there is more to the story.

Where Magic was found in Paterson, NJ, animal control officers and the town shamelessly break the law, which requires animal control to respond to calls about stray cats and intake sick or injured animals of any kind.

This is such a chronic problem in NJ that this memo was issued by the Department of Public Health in September 2021 and even posted on the NJ Certified Animal Control Officers Association, reminding officers that the law requires responses to calls about cats.

In March 2023, when I noted an inordinate number of posts on social media about dumped and suffering cats in Paterson, I investigated the town's website to find a blatant statement that they "do not respond to calls about stray cats." I immediately reported with a registered letter to the state public health veterinarian and requested a response. I was ignored. Just a few months later, we met Magic. Any one of these scenarios could have been true and why he was forced to suffer:

  • Magic could have simply been lost and wandered far from his home in search of a mate as an unneutered male. He was hit by a car and unable to return, and with no one to pick up a stray and bring to the impound facility, his owner would never find him.

  • Magic could have been dumped by someone outside after spraying as unneutered males do. AC does not pick up strays, so he remained outside and was hit by a car.

  • The neighbor who saw him could have legally demanded that animal control pick up the injured cat who suffered in her lawn. But they would refuse and he remained outside, dragging his legs toward food.

While Whiskers elected to help him and foot the bill, he was ultimately euthanized after much suffering. This did not have to happen, and animal control policies and lack of enforcement are directly responsible for the suffering caused to countless cats like Magic. It is time for animal control to be part of the solution instead of avoiding work and ignoring huge overpopulation issues.

Remember: it is against state law for animal control to refuse to respond and intake cats in need of medical care that are stray, sick, or injured. Illegal animal control practices should be reported to the state public health vet and acts of cruelty must be reported to the HLEO and then the county prosecutor if no response is given by the HLEO.

We need animal control to be active participants in the equation for "no kill." Avoiding them because they are unpleasant or insist on breaking laws just takes them further out of the equation while they are funded and pass their work onto rescues.

RIP MAGIC - We will keep fighting for you.


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