I don't honestly know what to say here. As far as the cats go, it boils down to this: MEB refused to let them stay, citing health and safety hazards, and are removing them to an undisclosed location.
If you're looking at that last part and thinking, "Um, that won't work," you're right. Cats are territorial and will do everything they can to come back here to this space. If you're looking at that last part and thinking, "Hey, that's illegal," you're also right. Under AZ Animal Cruelty Laws, you cannot dump a feral cat-- you are not allowed to take them anywhere but the Humane Society. But if you're also looking at that last part and thinking, "Well, at least they'll have a chance there, unlike the Humane Society," you will see my current dilemma.
A wonderful, kind, and smart feral-cat caregiver, a volunteer with the Foundation for Homeless Cats, was to come with me to this meeting. She and I met and spoke ahead of time and I had a little bit of hope from this veteran negotiator.
False hope, alas, as when we got to our meeting I was completely blind-sided. The complex manager had called in two higher managers from MEB and they refused to allow the volunteer to stay and talk. This was, apparently, about a "resident concern" and thus for residents only.
Let me tell you, guys, it was awful. Imagine being taken to the principal's office with your teacher and your guidance counselor there, all of them thinking you're a recalcitrant child in need of severe behavior modification. (Later, when I pointed out that I'd been blind-sided, they had the gall to say, "Well, you brought someone." And I responded with, "Yeah, and you made her leave.")
Clearly the purpose of this meeting as far as these three managers were concerned was to get me to shut up and to have you all stop writing to them. It seems that they honestly don't care what anyone thinks except their residents (and their residents have said only negative things about the cats. I pointed out that angry people are the 10% who are vocal-- what about the 30% who are neutral and the 60% who are happy to let the cats stay? They said that wasn't their experience. Well... yeah, by definition of those other 90% not being vocal!) Not caring what potential renters might think? Seems short-sighted to me.
They've been taking down my flyers because they are "Solicitation." Since I don't try to sell anything, that would be completely untrue. Not to mention, those flyers are posted directly next to other flyers THAT ARE SELLING THINGS. So, uh, solicitation?
The only two resident complaints that they shared with me were one: a small child was attacked by a feral cat recently. Uhh... No. I'm not saying that the mother claiming this is lying (although she might be) but I think there must be a lot more to this story that we're no getting because that's not what feral cats do. When I pointed that out, I was dismissed with, "well, maybe it was stray or a pet or whatever, but it can't be there." And they suggested that children may run after a feral, corner it, and get scratched. My thought there, as I'm sure any responsible parent or sane person would have is, "Teach the freakin' kids not to chase strange animals!" but again, no. And secondly, they complained about the smell near my building. I will admit that Sir Percy's penchant for spraying made the area slightly pungent. I pointed out his story, and that he's been removed. They said that I couldn't promise that it was that cat doing the spraying. I said, actually, that I could, because all the other males have been neutered. They refused to believe me.
I tried everything I could, although I'm not a skilled negotiator. They had all the cards in this situation-- a veiled threat not to let me renew my lease (I so don't care) atop the whole ganging up on me thing. THREE OF THEM against me. Sure, they had the temerity to claim that they were all there out of concern for me, because I'm a resident and had registered a complaint, but I'm calling them on that BS.
End result... not sure, precisely. They claim that they took the three cats they've caught the Humane Society but that upon finding out that they were going to be killed, they did not leave them there but took them to a housing development elsewhere where they had permission to leave the cats.
There are holes in that story, however. If they're using only one trap, how did they catch three cats and take them to this special location? If they caught one and found that out and took the cat elsewhere, then took he others elsewhere, that might make sense- but when I asked the manager last week she said that three cats had been taken to the Humane Society. Today she said she hadn't known, and that since then they've changed their mind. Well... that doesn't make sense.
And the larger problem-- dumping cats, even ferals, elsewhere is ILLEGAL. No two ways about it-- it's part of AZ's anti-cruelty laws, as I stated above. I said as much to them, and I was informed that their attorneys said it was okay. Well, I don't know what loop-hole they've found, but it's not.
I suggested that I would be fine with everything if two things happened:
1. They removed the cats in a safe, humane, and effective manner--- which includes keeping the cats contained at the new location for several weeks. (A 21 day period is suggested by this group, for example)
2. That they offer me some proof that they have permission to move the cats to this location.
They FLATLY denied both. Flat out. Offered nothing in return. Claimed I was giving them an ultimatum (they said I was free to do whatever I liked but they were equally free to not renew my lease.) They said their attorneys wouldn't let them tell me where the cats are being taken (could this be the way they're getting around the fact that it's ILLEGAL!?)
I said that between being blind-sided by this meeting and their refusal to listen, I had no real reason to trust any of them without some kind of proof. They said they'd never lied to me-- well, a) first time for everything and b) ... isn't that what a liar would say?
Look, bottom line? I believe that they think that they're doing the right thing. They honestly believe that they're at risk because of the cats and that by removing them they'll be fine. (They're wrong, but nevermind that.) And if they actually are taking the cats to some undisclosed location (or a sanctuary in Mesa, supposedly as their second location), they undoubtedly again believe that at least they aren't getting the cats euthanized.
Because I heard them say that this is what they're doing-- all three of them said it at one point or another-- I could legitimately report them to the police's anti-animal-cruelty division. But I'm terrified that if I do, they'll simply revert to taking the cats to the Humane Society. And okay, that option's legal but equals death. On the other hand, there's a reason that dumping a cat is illegal and considered cruel-- they're away from their food source, their familiar territory, and if they're just dumping the cats in the desert, well, they're just sentencing them to death anyway, but a longer and more painful one.
So I'm at a loss. And the cats have lost, too.