Walmart officials tell us because of potential dangers to customers, their families, and employees, they are working to safely remove a feral cat colony that lives near their Jasper store.
Locals say the colony has been there for years and have been fed, spayed, and neutered by a caretaker.
Walmart released this statement regarding the cats:
The health and safety of our customers and associates is paramount. The cats' presence in a busy parking lot represents a hazard for the cats, and a health and safety risk for our customers, their children, and our associates. In addition, the food is attracting other wild animals, which heighten the health and safety risks to our customers and associates who are using the parking lot. Our goal remains to remove the feral cats using the safest and most humane means. Walmart is working with local authorities and animal welfare organization to identify a safe home for the feral cats, which is not in a busy parking lot. To date, we have reached out to 42 shelters, in multiple states, unfortunately, all of the shelters or groups we have spoken with will only take animals which they deem "adoptable". The cats are not adoptable because there can be no assurances that they are safe to be around and that they are not carriers of disease. We want to be part of the solution to identify a more suitable location for these animals, if anyone in the community has suggestions for a safe new home for the cats; we encourage you to please call our Customer hotline at 1-800-WALMART (925-6278).
Walmart officials say they are making a list of Jasper residents that would like to adopt the cats. They will then take the necessary precautions to make sure the cats are safely adopted.
The colony's caretaker, Priscilla, says doing that is not safe for the cats or the people trying to adopt them.
Priscilla said the cats are wild and could scratch people if they are approached.
"The cat will become scared to death," said Priscilla. "It will become almost un-trappable for a while, which will prolong this situation. They could drop the cat or injure it in some way."
Executive Director for the Dubois County Humane Society Mary Saalman said even if the cats are moved to another area, there will be more cats come back. She also says the cats that are there now, will most likely die if this action is taken.
"If that colony is removed, there's something called the Vacuum Effect," said Saalman. "Other cats will come in to take over that colony. If you remove them, more will come."
Saalman said the cats can be adopted, but only if they are kittens and are done so properly.
Priscilla said she has contacted Walmart officials and is trying to help in the process, but is not receiving any response.
"I want to make sure that they're kept in family groups, in friend groups and mother with baby," Priscilla said. "I want to make sure the people that take them are aware of all that's involved with adopting feral cats."
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